It’s no secret that I wasn’t particularly fond of Crisis, Alexisonfire’s third album and Vagrant Records debut. In fact, I was very disheartened by it because any band that has the talent Alexisonfire possesses should never release an album that bad. I hoped that Crisis was just an aberration and not a trend, and after waiting nearly three years, my fear has been calmed. Old Crows/Young Cardinals is a gem, as it is the album we’ve been waiting for the Ontario quintet to write their entire careers.
Produced by Julius Butty, Old Crows/Young Cardinals takes the best progressive parts of Crisis and the intensity of the first two AOF records, making the album a force to be reckoned with. It’s fast, aggressive, and in-your-face; paced by the soul of punk rock and layered with the triple-vocal attack of George Pettit, Dallas Green, and Wade MacNeil. “Old Crows” kicks off the album with a dirty guitar riff and is carried by Pettit’s new gruff vocal delivery. Green makes his first appearance on the high-octane “Young Cardinals,” as he rips through the chorus, while drummer Jordan Hastings sets the tempo.
“Sons of Privilege” proves to be one of the highlights on the new disc, as the riffs from MacNeil urge their way into your cerebellum. The contrast between Pettit’s rough yells and the harmonizing done by MacNeil and Green on the chorus is riveting. All of the tracks on Old Crows/Young Cardinals have dark undertones, and “No Rest” heavily flows in that vein, with its raucous opening chords to the powerful chorus. The slower “The Northern” sludges through the middle of the album, as it expands the band talent. Green takes the reins on this track as guitars and cymbals clash, while the subtle organ haunts the background.
What really stands out on this album is how well the three vocalists utilize their talents and influences into creating such a cohesive end result. The members of Alexisonfire all have their own side projects (City and Colour and The Black Lungs, to name a few), and it is evident that each member brings a little of that to the record.
Green shines on “Midnight Regulations,” which is the jam of Old Crows/Young Cardinals, as Green continues to prove that he has one of the best voices in the scene, if not the best. “Accept Crime” features a very catchy chorus complete with handclaps and “heys!,” while “Burial” finishes the album on a somber, yet beautiful, note.
Old Crows/Young Cardinals is the essential Alexisonfire album. I know fans will spin nostalgic on me, but it doesn’t get better than this in AOF’s discography. Musically and vocally, it is on point, as the band accomplishes everything they set out to achieve with this record. Old Crows/Young Cardinals has a little something for all kinds of music fans to enjoy. It’s ambient, aggressive, progressive, and never displays a boring moment. Crisis averted, Alexisonfire is on top of its game once again.