Alexisonfire are like a cult. They aren’t wildly popular and haven’t rode the wave of “popular screamo” like most bands have, but they have a fiercely passionate core of fans and two albums that match that intensity. After spending a few years on the Equal Vision roster, Alexis has jumped ships to one of the biggest independent labels ever, Vagrant, to release their third album, Crisis. Possessing one of the finest vocals talents in the scene, Dallas Green, Alexisonfire are looking to break into new ground. Incorporating three styles of vocals (from Green, George Pettit, and Wade MacNeil) with dual guitar work, Crisis is a bag full of mixed results. Throughout the eleven tracks, you’ll come across some songs that are good, some that are horrible, and a lot that sound like watered down versions from Watch Out!.
Crisis kicks off with the bombastic “Drunks, Lovers, Sinners, and Saints.” The intro to this song reminds me a lot of Emanuel, with its jagged guitar work and gruff vocals. “This Could Be Anywhere In The World” starts with a crushing guitar riff and Green’s vocals shine, but this song blends in and starts to bore me with how straightforward it is. The album picks up with “Mailbox Arson,” which is one of the strongest tracks on the album. George’s screaming takes over the beginning of the song while the guitar riff needles in and out. Beside the horrible title, “Boiled Frogs” is my favorite track on the album, as Alexisonfire’s potential finally comes through. This song is equally aggressive as it is passionate, mixing the different styles of vocals nicely with the driving guitarwork. “We Are The Sound” starts off with a menacing riff that picks up into the breakneck speed of the track. The chorus brings down the overall vibe of the track, as the faster pace really benefits the overall sound of Alexisonfire. The next song, though, takes the overall mood of Crisis and turns into a natural disaster. “You Burn First” is probably one of the worst songs I’ve heard all year. Planes Mistaken For Stars lead singer sings on this track and sounds like a dying goat and the music is just so bland. Honestly, it sounds like a Staind b-side, it’s that bad. After that song, you might just want to turn off the album, as the second half of the album isn’t as strong as the first. “We Are The End” is an uninspired track that just drags. The title track is one of the lone bright spots on the second half, as it starts with a menacing riff and booming drums, and is another fast song that really plays to AOF’s strengths. “Keep It On Wax” sounds like a weak b-side from Watch Out!, while “To A Friend” is one of the harder tracks on the album, but loses steam throughout the track. The album closes with a slower track, titled “Rough Hands.” Green’s voice is the focal point on this track, and it’s an all right track, but its placement in the tracklisting doesn’t help its cause. It closes the album on a boring note, and I think it would have been better to cut “You Burn First” and put this song in its place, and close with the title track. That would have made the overall flow of the album that much better and more enjoyable.
I’m not going to lie, Crisis is one of biggest disappointments of 2006, if not the biggest. Their first albums are very good and daring, while Crisis comes off as a safe record, which is a shame, because Alexisonfire is capable of so much more. As of now, I would only recommend this album to hardcore AOF fans. AOF haters will still hate, as this album will do nothing to change their minds. If you are a new listener, then please get a hold of their self titled album and Watch Out!, as those are AOF’s best work. Personally, I hated this album at first, but as I gave it more listens, it become more tolerable, so don’t toss it after a few listens, as it is a grower. Overall, Crisis could have been so much more, as there are a few grand songs on here, but the mediocrity of the other tracks brings it down so much. Hopefully, this album was just a hiccup in Alexisonfire’s career, because if this is a sign of things to come, then we’ll have a real Crisis on our hands.