Alexisonfire

Watch Out!

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    7
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Alexisonfire's 2003 Equal Vision debut was one of the stronger entries on the ever-evolving emo/metal, post-hardcore axis, and the Ontario combo makes a few leaps with its sophomore return. As openers "Accidents" and "Control" prove, they've heightened the dynamic between singing and screaming. But they've also discovered a new yen for moody exploration, and fill the middle of Watch Out! with battered water wings that float on waves of emotion and reverb. That's fine; there's always the accessibility factor to worry about. Besides, Watch Out! really only refines what Alexisonfire already had the chops and lyrical potential for. It's rage rearranged, not opportunistic subtraction. "It Was Fear of Myself That Made Me Odd" and "Side Walk When She Walks" have their atmospheres broken up by varying instrumental fills; on the former it's technical guitar figures, the latter urgent metal chording and rousing tempo changes. "No Transitory" seems to begin in mid-scream, its tearing distortion giving way to thumping bass and searching lyrics. "If everything goes wrong if it's one more endless night/You know there's always tomorrow and tomorrow..." lead guy George sings, and it's clear that beyond the bloodcurdling screams and shifting parts, this is music made by kids still figuring out how to live. Some might decide that the band's spending too much time in the clouds when it's better at corrosive riffs and wiry screams. But, as one of the vocalists notes toward the end of the album, "Maybe music isn't dead/Maybe we all just forget what it f*ckin' sounded like." That's a truism, especially in the post-everything world of hardcore fallout, where vitriol and choking power lose purchase with each new combo's appropriation. Alexisonfire tries to forward things with an exploration of both ragged screaming energy and the drifting atmospheric strata. It might confuse some, but it bodes well for Alexisonfire's future.

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