There is something about Lorn I can't quite put my finger on. I can't say his music is all that dynamic, he isn't the type to add layer after layer. Typically, as the song starts is very similar to how it ends. The thing is, what he lays down just flat out sounds good regardless of the amount of layers or the level of creativity.
Lorn makes music to make your head nod. He makes music that puts an angry face on you no matter what you are doing. Not that this is angry music, it just makes you feel like a bad-ass when you listen to it. I am sure that sounds kind of cheesy, but really, listen to this and try not to make that stank face while you nod your head back and forth.
The best tracks here are the tracks with vocals. I assume they are Lorn's vocals and they are not at all sung but it's not really talking either, I guess it's somewhere in-between, but it works very well. He has a voice that is as deep and dark as his music is and it's honestly something that sets him apart from any of his other contemporaries, whoever they are.
On Weigh Me Down he has a repeated vocal sample that borders on catchy and it's flanked by his trademarked hard, but slow, bass. He kicks in a few lines of vocals and the combo of everything makes it the best track on the album. The Well is the one track that does have a build up and a large amount of layering. The end of the track becomes welled up (forgive the pun) with a wall of sound and hummed vocal track.
Overall Lorn isn't maybe doing a ton of original things, but he is doing enough unique things that he sounds different than anything else I can think of. It's dark hip-hop on some level, deep dubstep on another and it even goes to some catchy sounds here and there. If you want something that isn't afraid to be hard for the sake of being hard, but still have a gentle side at the same time, Lorn is your man.
When an artist or band releases material, whether it is one release or over a career, which rises up and above its genre and becomes something of a classic, we can always expect that artist to provide influence to countless other musicians. This will lead to flat out copycats and numerous other releases which are more subtle in their “borrowing” of that group or artist’s work. The most obvious example, to me, is Tool. After “Aenima” (and to some extent even as early as after “Undertow”) it was impossible to not hear Tool’s sound everywhere else. Maynard James Keenan’s influence on vocals in almost all forms of modern rock or metal and its still hear today.
What Tool is to metal or rock, Burial is to dubstep and future garage. His first release was amazing in that it took what people expect from dubstep and he turned it on its head. He took the beats and kept them just as deep as the genre fans had come to expect, but he pushed them to the background. He time and pitch-shifted vocals until they were unrecognizable and became more of an instrument than a focal point. On his second release, “Untrue”, he perfected his formula taking everything his debut was and making it better. People listened. It was only a matter of time before others copied.
Here we are, roughly 5 years after Untrue was released and the copycats are coming out in force. Volor Flex, Late, Sorrow, et al. When the influenced and the copycats come out, it’s not always worth people’s time. Sometimes the music is so derivative of the original that it’s boring. Not everyone wants a lesser version of their favorite artist.
Enter Nocow, the St. Petersburg, Russia producer. He takes Burial’s influence and does an excellent job at making it his own. The second Ruins Tape starts with “Allow”, you can hear it. The drums are muffled, the bass is deep when it kicks in and the sythns float over the music. It’s impossible to not see Burial’s fingerprints all over almost every track, but it’s equally as impossible to not like it.
On “Moonlight Flit”, Nocow introduces another of Burial’s ideas and adds a chopped up vocal sample that ends up being heavenly. The drum kick is obvious and repetitive, the bass really pounds in the background and by the time the vocal sample kicks in, it’s the height of the album. Late into “Ruins Tape”, “You Got Me” comes at you with a somewhat standard hip-hop beat and subtle, looped sample. The track feels perfect for the ride home after the club, the comedown from a high.
Nocow matches the feel and sound of Burial’s best work. He never looks to make you dance, he wants to be the sound that lets you relax while all the lights are off and you are entering that half-awake/half-asleep state which is ever so peaceful. He makes it more his own by including a little hip-hop influence on some of the drums and kicks.
The one area which Nocow does not match Burial is in the depth of his music. A lot of Nocow’s tracks are short, which don’t give them room to grow or to have as much depth as say, “Ashtray Wasp” (one of Burial’s more sprawling tracks). A lot of times with Nocow, what you hear the first minute of the song is the same as the third minute of the song. Then the song is over.
That’s the only minor issue I have with this release, songs don’t always feel like they are given the time needed to in order to give them more room to grow and add layers. Aside from that, this is an excellent re-work of what people love in Burial. The feel is all mellow. The bass is always lurking in the background, thumping in the most subtle way it can. The synths are light and airy, but always feel right on top of the beats. The moral of this story? It’s better to be good than it is to be original. Nocow takes what Burial taught him and makes better use of it than anyone not named William Bevan.
Milo is a nerd from Wisconsin. I am a nerd from Wisconsin. Milo lost his brother. I lost my mother. Milo might be lacking some self confidence. I might.... You get the picture.
I use those qualifiers because all those factors might make me like this more then I should, but there is no denying Milo is doing something unique. His flow is his own, the production isn't something you'll find from another hip-hop release and best of all, the EP is free.
His flow is very, very (emphasis on very) laid back. It borders on spoken word but it's quick enough to keep it from falling into open-mic-nights-at-a-lame-coffee-shop dribble. The beats he raps over are a combo of minimal electronic with usage of an acoustic guitar here and there. It's very reminiscent of Cex during his IDM days, minus the glitch. The combo of laid back flow and unique production make Milo one of a kind. One of kind that I don't think everyone is going to be able to appreciate, but he's going to have a rather large audience if people are listening.
Milo's been called nerdcore around the interweb, which does make some sense. He references Street Fighter and Pokemon in the same song. An entire track is dedicated to not getting nudes from his message board girlfriend. It just doesn't stop at clever nerd references, however. Milo is able to get the other part of being a nerd across. The social awkwardness and the self doubt a lot of us dorks and social outcasts deal with on a day to day basis. He has the knowledge of nerd culture to get himself some NES cred, but he has his heart in the right place as well. That's what is going to allow people to connect to this more then they ever could with MC Chris or whatever other random nerdcore legend you want to name.
This is more than talking about ASCII images, this gets a lot deeper.
It's finally here... This is easily the album that I have been most looking forward to all year. I only discovered Katatonia within the last year or so do to a random listen of The Great Cold Distance. I have been hooked ever since and once I found out they were going to release a new album this year, I marked my calendar in big, black marker and circled the month of November. The thing that Katatonia does better than any band in the world is their adaptation of Doom Metal (or Depressive Doom Metal if you want to get specific). While most bands scream their way through tracks doing their best Cookie Monster impression, Katatonia has some of the best clean vocals that can be found anywhere within the Metal scene. And before every Doom nerd mails me to tell me how stupid I am, there are some bands that are great within the genre, even with all that screaming. But they all take a back seat to Katatonia as far as I am concerned.
Like most people, the first thing I heard off this album was Forsaker which is the albums opening track. It's a track that is heavy as you can get with Jonas' wonderful clean vocals over the top. The track shows why Katatonia are the Masters of Melancholy because the track has this heavy, depressing feel to it. Most of the album gives of that vibe and while people might think that listening to depressing music is, well, depressing... they are correct. The way I see it, however, is that it's much better to feel something instead of nothing. So many bands have no feeling, no emotion. It's all glossy, happy stuff. Or it's just not from the heart. Night is the New Day is from somewhere deep inside the members of Katatonia and it comes through on every track.
After Forsaker opens things up on a high note, the next 4 songs are equally as brilliant. Onward Into Battle is my favorite track off the disk. Something about the pacing and sound of Jonas' voice just make me all warm and fuzzy inside. The albums latter half is not quite as good as the first half, but that doesn't make it bad. The entire album doesn't have a track worth skipping over.
The newer elements that help to push this disk forward (when compared to past releases from the band) is the addition of more prevalent sythns. They are used to supplement almost every track here and help to give them album more weight. If you had the privilege of hearing Unfrul (released on an EP after The Great Cold Distance) you will have a good idea of what I am talking about. They haven't turned into an electronic metal band or anything, they just use small electronic accents here and there and they work perfectly within the style of music.
If you are scared off by the words "Doom" or "Depressive Doom" in front of your metal, don't be. Katatonia takes what everyone thinks about the genre and flips it on its head. They have some of the best clean vocals in all of metal and some of the most talented musicians. The album is pretty dark and it is pretty depressing, but as I said before, I just like that it does such a wonderful job of conveying that emotion. This might not be for everyone, but I think it's something all metal fans should give a chance.
Post-rock isn't dead, but it might be on life support. The genre's life cycle thus far has been an interesting one. In the early 2000's there were maybe 50 releases in the genre to pick from each year. This year, according to Rate Your Music's database their are 108 release already. Over 200 releases last year. While those number sound small for a genre like rap or metal, for Post-rock that's a lot of stuff that's been released the past few years. A genre that used to flourish by having quality over quantity has now gone the other way with a lot of releases leading to a watered down selection of albums. With all of that said, there is still good stuff out there, it's just not easy to find. It seems like this year the only bands really putting out post-rock worth listening to are some of the more famous acts from the genres recent past. Mono's newest, Hymn To The Immortal Wind, is about as beautiful as you can get. Maybeshewill's sophomore album is pretty good, but not of the quality their first release displayed. Overall, there hasn't been enough good stuff to keep post-rock fans all that interested in the genre.
Thankfully Caspian has given us something to be excited about. Their last disc, The Four Trees, is looked upon as one of the classics in the genre. While I have enjoyed it, I never got into enough to call it one of my favorites. It was a good listen occasionally, but I wasn't overly impressed. The Four Trees was a little too soft for me, a little too safe.
Post-rock is at it's height, for me, when the album/songs reach a crescendo that pays off. Often times, artists within the genre meander across 10 minute long songs that never really go anywhere (I'm looking at a lot of your stuff, Mogwai), they never pay off. There are a lot of artists who are guilty of that which is why you see some people say that post-rock is dead. Maybe you have someone who is trying to get in the genre, with little knowledge, and they end up with one of these long, boring releases that turn them off of the genre for good. Now I think I have a current release that I can point many people and say "Post-rock is still alive and kicking".
Caspian's latest is an interesting progression for them, one I didn't expect. While there were some intense moments on The Four Trees, they were few and far between. On Tertia they bring the thunder and they bring it pretty often. They haven't gotten quite as loud as Isis or Minsk, but they have gotten hard enough to border on the "post-metal" edge here and there. That's what really makes this disc for me. It feels like it pays off time and time again with soaring apexes and a "wall of sound" approach that feels like it might engulf you.
The other smart choice that was made on this disc was the length. There are some long songs that come in at 8 or 9 minutes, but most of the album is quick and to the point. None of that pointless wandering that a lot of post-rock albums are guilty of. It's much easier to get into a 9 minute long song when the tracks leading up to it were between 4 and 6 minutes long and very engaging on top of that. Don't take my issue with time and make me out to be an impatient person. If an artist can do long songs and keep me interested (Mono, UpCDownC) I'm all for it. The issue is that there are few artists who are really good at that. Seeing Caspian come out with this release and shorten down some of the song lenghts has just made their strengths seem stronger and their weaknesses have been smoothed over.
The album starts with Mie which is a soft intro into what is easily Caspian's heaviest album to date. From there it's track after track of post-rock goodness. One of the things that surprised me the most about the first few songs is the strength of the percussion. There are some spots where the drums truly shine and that's pretty rare in this genre. Often the drums are there just as to keep pace; they rarely come to the forefront. The album's best track (or at least me favorite) is Malacoda. The song is heavy throughout but brings something not many post-rock artists use... vocals. Granted it's not lyrical or verse chorus verse, but it's a collection of elongated "ah"s and "oh"s that fight perfectly with the heavy guitars. This song is probably the one to point to where there is no fluff, no wasted moments. It's five minutes of post-rock in it's highest form. The other standout track is The Raven. Coming in at 7 minutes it's another track that is perfectly paced and has a wonderful build to the apex that just makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
This might end up being my post-rock release of the year, but there are still 3 months to go and If These Trees Could Talk had a damn good release earlier in the year. This is an album with 3 amazing tracks that are surrounded by very good tracks. There isn't a song worth skipping. The album is perfectly paced. Caspian proves to be some of the best at knowing when to go full bore and when to pull back. I think this is their strongest work to date and I hope they continue on the path they have created here because I think it's the right one for them. There may not be much that is new to the genre, but it's perfected a lot of what the genre already offers. If you like post-rock or are interested in getting into it, this is a great release for you.
I came across this album, released in 1999, mostly due to a rather large infatuation with Imogen Heap. She is featured here, on the track Blanket, which is a great, laid back hip-hop song. Because of that one track I decided to give the entire album a try. Can't say I came away entirely impressed but what did surprise me is that there are 3 or 4 songs here that are really good.
Urban Species is really a solo venture, though the name might lead you to think otherwise. The style here is ultra laid back british hip-hop. The genre is a blessing and a curse. Sometimes it's great to be laid back and chill. Sometimes it's nice to pick up the pace. Unfortunately, the one song he does pick up the pace in, turns out to be pretty awful. The vocal style is constantly slowed down and at times really drab. At times it does work well but after listening to an entire album with little to no change on the vocals, it becomes tedious. The production here feels very jazzy at times but for the most part I think this could be looked at as a trip-hop or downtempo disc. Some of the production reminds me of Lamb but comes across feeling very different because of the vocals present.
The album starts off really well. The first track is good, but nothing special. The second track, Destructive is amazing. The production contains a jazzy beat with some light guitar backing. The track starts of small but swells to a wall-of-sound buy the chorus, which is sung by a female/male combo. The track works really well all the way through. After that we get into Blanket, which is the reason I'm here in the first place. Again, the track is laid back, jazzy beat and laid back vocals. If it weren't for Imogen Heap I would probably be really bored with it, but she saves it and makes it a great song. She opens the song with a verse and then chorus. Then Urban Species kicks in with his laid back style. Heap takes over the chorus each time and each time it sounds brilliant.
After this it's mostly downhill from here. I Wonder follows Blanket with a 90's cheesiness that should have been dead by the time this was recorded. There is a female vocal backing the entire track with a "Ba-Ba-Ba-Bapa-Bapa" type style that sounds awful with the cheesy, wonky guitars. Next is Woman, his tribute to the female gender. It's boring and his attempt at ultra conscious lyrics come off as indulgent and corny. The album picks up with the next two tracks to then be a difficult listen the rest of the way. Predictably Unpredictable is a 7 minute long track with mostly female vocals. This track comes across almost as straight up Trip-Hop that you might have heard coming from Portishead in the mid-90's. The only problem is that the track is 7 minutes long when it should be 4. The verses and chorus are repeated over and over again. If you make it through the entire track you will become incredibly bored by the end, but it's a great song the first few minutes. Then comes Rockstar which is by far the strongest track from a lyrical perspective. At times throughout the album it feels like his lyrics are heavy handed while he is trying to help save the world. On Rockstar, however, his preaching turns into clever lyrical wordplay. I feel like if I explained what he was saying here it might sound cheesy, so listen to the song. After that it's the worst track on the album which is Religion and Politics. He literally talks, not raps, about religion and politics. Sound exciting? Not to me either. The last two tracks are pretty awful and long on top of that.
If this would've been a 5 song EP, it might be a really good one. Unfortunately it's an LP with 5 songs too many and needs to be looked at that way. I would say that if you really like laid back hip-hop with a jazzy feel to it, there are some excellent tracks worth listening to. Even if you love trip-hop, there are going to be some redeeming qualities for you here. Overall, the album just isn't very good. Yes, there are some great tracks, but there are just as many bad tracks and they are really bad tracks. If you are in the mood to chill, give this a shot. You might come away with a handful of songs that deserve to be on your iPod.
Prior to getting into the actual review of this one, I feel like I need to preface it with this.... The more I float around the interweb, it seems like people are very divided on what they think about Brand Newas a band. It's not so much a "love it or hate it" thing as it is a you either kind of like it or you are in love with it. When I say love, you love it in the deepest, most real way possible. I know that comes across as cheesy, but for my fellow Brand New fans, they will understand. Everything this band has done, including and since Deja Entendu, has been golden in my book. The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me is my album of the decade. That's how much I love Brand New.... So if you aren't ready for the gushing of a fan boy, stop reading now.
Brand New reinvent themselves with every release but still manage to sound distinctly like Brand New every time. There are a lot of bands that try to change over the course of their career and a lot of them fail miserably. Not Brand New. From Deja Entendu to Devil & God Brand New has matured and became this dark, heavy band with very serious lyrics and the balance of quiet/loud that is handled perfectly. With the release of Daisy, Brand New has gone even further to the dark side with the lyrical themes (death, religion, being alone, etc.) and Jesse has turned into quite the screamer. Not like his screams of the past, more like the screams of a metalcore singer. I mean that in the nicest way, because I know metalcore isn't really a great genre in and of itself. But what Lacy has done with his vocals on this one is mix them up more than ever before. We have these tortured screams that go to softly sung lyrics. Jesse Lacy, like the band which he fronts, is diverse and never happy with the status quo.
The album begins with what I thought was a joke... A soft piano plays while this terrible, operatic singer goes on for about 30 seconds... Then it hits. Lacey turns the screams to level 10 and he rips through the song like he has never done before. The screaming is so hard, with the music, that's it's almost off-putting. The second this song finished, the first time I listened to it, I knew why they titled this album Daisy. They wanted to pick the softest name possible. A name that makes you think of puppy dogs in fields of daisies and dandelions while the sun shines down. Then you listen to the album and realize that this isn't a happy place. It's dark, heavy and at times depressing. While that might not get you to run out and buy this, I think that when a band can make you feel what they are feeling, whether that be happiness or depression, they have done their job. That's what Brand New has always done for me. When I listen to their music I feel like I am wherever they are, as stupid as that sounds.
After the shock that was the opening track we go to the softest track on the album, Bed. After two tracks I was confused and had no idea where this was going. A shredder for an opener and then a soft track that is almost too safely a Brand New track. Thankfully the album settles in after the first two tracks and it's brilliant throughout. The 3rd track is one we should all have heard by now, At The Bottom. This is one of my favorite songs on the album. Lacey uses a vocal style we haven't heard from him before and it works really well. From there the album goes to track after track of greatness. Gasoline is another screamer. After that, You Lied takes Brand New's practice of starting out really quiet and ending with something really heavy. When the heavy portion kicks in it does so in this somewhat subtle way. It smolders like a volcano ready to blow and after a few seconds it absolutely erupts. My favorite of the remaining tracks is In A Jar which reminds me of Okay I Believe You, But My Tommy Gun Don't in that it alters between the light and heavy from verse to chorus brilliantly.
I could go on and on, but I'll end it here. I don't think this one is going to convert people who have disliked or hated Brand New in the past. Even though it is a departure from their past, it's in a less commercial direction than bands usually go. The album is dark. There isn't a song here that's going to make you happy. That doesn't matter. It's good. Damn good. If you are looking for something that sounds unique in today's sterile soundscapes, Brand New is a pretty awesome choice. Album of the year.
Not to start off with a “look how cool I am” item, but I have listened to Chevelle since their first disc, Point #1. I first heard of them when I saw their video for [video artist=Chevelle]Mia[/video] on MTV at some riduclous time early in the morning. The song sounded like Tool, kind of. The video looked like a Tool video, kind of. At the time (and to this day) Tool was my favorite band. I loved them. I ate, drank and slept AEnima when it came out and because of that infatuation with Tool, I loved anything that reminded me of Tool. Back then I was more forgiving, I listened to any crappy band that stole MJK’s vocal style or kind of sounded like Tool. Almost none of those band stuck with me except for Chevelle. I never really thought of Chevelle in the context of “on of my favs” but with the release of Sci-Fi Crimes, they are up there.
I have enjoyed every Chevelle album to a point. They have all had a handful of songs that I thought were excellent, but then the rest of the tracks bored me. With this release they have made an album that is good all the way through, front to back. The album starts off with Sleep Apnea and the opening guitar is distinctly Chevelle. The track is good, but the album gets better as it goes on. The chorus of Mexican Sun is excellent and it becomes very infectious. The further you get into the album, the stronger it gets.
For the first time I feel like Chevelle has their own identity here. Maybe that’s what was always missing for me. Something to make Chevelle strong on their own, not because they sound like someone else or have a heavy influence from another artist. And that’s what this disc does. The first single, Jars is a perfect song for radio play. While that will be disappointing to some, it doesn’t really matter because we all know Chevelle doesn’t get a ton of radio time no matter how good they are. The track has another awesome rif with a really catchy chorus, but it’s still heavy enough for Chevelle to keep that edge. The album really gets better the further you go. Letter From A Thief is by far my favorite track on the album. There is a certain emotion in it that Chevelle hasn’t displayed before. The last two tracks finish the album off in awesome fashion. The last track, This Circus has some of the best percussion that I have heard in quite awhile and like so many of the tracks here, the chorus will stick in your head for days.
Will this album convert people who have hated Chevelle? No. Will it make long time Chevelle fans happy. Hell yes. I think it’s their strongest work and gets better with each listen. I also feel like it’s brought me closer to Chevelle, as cheesy as that sounds. I feel like I can call them one of my favorites now because their body of work over 5 discs is strong enough to do so. I would be surprised if this didn’t get a spot on my top ten this year.
I did a "Most Anticipated Music of 2009" on my blog, back when I was doing that kind of stuff, and so far I have been pleased with most of the releases that I had been looking forward to. P.O.S.'s Never Better came out early in 09 and didn't disappoint. Well, it disappointed me a little, it is his weakest release, but still has some great songs. Other release lived up to my expectations as well. Isis and dredg both had very strong releases. Then some disappointed, The new Prodigy was pretty terrible, don't know why I get excited about their releases anymore, but I think that's over with Invaders must die. So now we are almost into the fall (my favorite time of year) and there are tons of releases that have yet to surface. This is going to be a wonderful few months leading up to the end of the year. Here is what I cannot wait for:
Brand New - Daisy: Yes, I know they titled the album Daisy. I don't care. Brand New has been a rare band in my opinion. They have gotten better and better with each release. 2006's The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me is my favorite album of the decade, hands down. For some reason people still love to label these guys "Emo" but they are the furthest thing from it. They are American rock to it's fullest. They just happen to have an emotional front man (one of the best in the biz) in Jesse Lacey. I will always have high expectations for Brand New releases, they have never let me down. Releases 9/22/09.
Katatonia - Night Is the New Day: This is a group that I randomly came across as 08 came to a close. I tried out The Great Cold Distance and was blown away. One of the best metal releases I have heard in forever. I'm not quite as enamored with their past work, but the song writing during TGCD was so fantastic, I cannot wait for new stuff. With this one I am slightly worried that expectations are too high as I just really can't get into any of their early work. I'll find out when this releases on 10/19/2009.
Thrice - Beggars: This one already leaked, which is way to early and might hurt (or help) with the final release. The same thing happened to Brand New with The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me and they scrapped almost everything they had and started over. Because of that experience I refuse to check this out early. I am going to wait for the release date and purchase it, because I want to support the bands I love. With the Brand New leak in 06 it kind of killed my excitement for the album because the leaked demos didn't sound that good. Well, that's because they were demos. From what I understand the Thrice leak might be more finalized than it's Brand New counterpart, I don't care. I'm getting this the day it comes out, in an actual store, which is 9/15/09. It is currently out on ITunes (well, current as of next week, 8/11/2009), but I feel like if I wait for the physical release I will be rewarded with something. Plus I want DRM free music.
Imogene Heap - Ellipse: This was on my most anticipated list from earlier in the year and it's still one I am waiting on. I've always loved the female vocals with electronic backing. Stuff like Lamb or the Sneaker Pimps. I feel like Heap has improved with every release that she has been a part of Foru Frou included and I am hoping she continues on that trend with this one. Releases 8/24/2009.
Some honorable mentions to go over.
-A Wilhelm Scream is easily one of my favorite bands and I was really looking forward to their release this year. I've since found out that is a EP (5 songs I believe) so while I am still stoked for it, I want a full album.
-AFI are releasing their follow up to Decemberundergroun this year and I am looking forward to it. I have cooled off on AFI the last few years and I'm not sure why. I think their last two releases have been their strongest (regardless of what others think) but I feel like I might be growing out of them. We shall see once Crash Love hits 9/29/09.
-30 Seconds to Mars is a guilty pleasure for me. They are kind of overly pretentious (seriously, that video for [video artist=30 Seconds To Mars]From Yesterday[/video] makes me want to gag) but I still enjoy listening to them. I'm not super stoked for this, but they are a decent band and always have 3 to 4 songs on each album that I think are great.
-CunninLynguists are set to release their second LP this year in the form of Strange Jourey Volume 2. The first one was better than I expected. It only had a handful of new songs and there are a few songs that weren't even their own, but it was still a great listen. Hoping for more of the same.
I was first introduced to Alexisonfire through random searching on the internet and coming across the video for This Could Be Anywhere In The World. I was blown away. As much as I disliked the screamer in the group, Dallas Green's vocals were amazing and musically the group was spot on. I quickly got my hands on Crisis and was just as quickly disappointed. It really had the feel of any number of sing/scream bands that have popped up since 2000. There are so many bands in this genre (is it screamo, is it post-hardcore, do I care?) that it's really had to stand out. There are a few groups I enjoy, stuff like Underoath or Evergreen Terrace but for every good band in the genre there are 5 terrible ones.
Since then, I have really gotten into Dallas Green's side project, City & Colour. It's a folksy, singer-songwriter gig and his excellent voice carries the style well. When I found out Alexisonfire was going to release a new album, I had to give it a chance based on Green alone and hope that I like the other elements better.
When first listening to the disc it was apparent that the strightfoward (generic) screams of the past were few and far between. Instead of screaming it is much more of a really, really (REALLY) raspy style of singing. The style sounds like a harder version of The Blackout Pact which sounds better and less "samey" then their screams of the past. On top of that it seems that they have matured as a group. The songwriting is fantastic throughout the disc, lyrically it's pretty serious/dark stuff and they use some excellent production techniques that come across as more than "studio magic".
The disc's best track (in my humble opinion) is The Northern. I don't know.... and I don't think the lyrics here are tongue in cheek but it sounds like something ripped straight from Revelations. As Dallas sings "I Want To Go To Heaven" and "Hallelujah" with great layered vocals from the screamer the track just feels epic. There is also some catchiness in effect here as well as some of the choruses are the kind of stuff you will be singing for weeks.
More mature, less generic screaming and excellent songs make for a pretty kick ass disc. I wasn't expecting to like this at all and came away loving it. Maybe I am missing something with their previous work, but it's going to be hard to go backwards after hearing how good this disc is. I'm going to be really surprised if this doesn't make it (somewhere) in my top ten.