Alexisonfire

Crisis

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Sitting a head above their peers in the emo/post-hardcore scene of the 2000s, Alexisonfire seem to get better with each release. Now a muscular force to be reckoned with, Crisis is the band's best album to date. The guys don't sound like an emo act trying to earn its tough-guy stripes through spastic freakouts and raw, throat-shredding shouts. Instead, they fully embrace the glory of post-hardcore with aggression, passion, and a controlled intensity that pushes their playing, singing, and -- yes, screaming -- to the limit, although not without direction or need. Chaos is in balance on Crisis, from the multi-vocalist dynamics and driving rhythms to the pummeling drumbeats and spiraling guitars. Even the "this is where we scream bloody murder and this is where we sing" components are seamlessly pieced together, building upon -- or bouncing off of -- one another without disjointed headache-inducing results.

Vocals are much of what stands out, namely the power and maturity behind main vocalists George Pettit and Dallas Green's strong deliveries, while the band channels the vigor of acts like Thrice and Rise Against without sounding cheap or derivative. Particularly in moments of rousing exhilaration is the latter group suggested, as in the invigorating "Boiled Frogs" and especially "We Are the End." The opening force of "Drunks, Lovers, Sinners and Saints" recalls the throaty power of Hot Water Music before slipping into a very Thrice-like chorus that challenges, "Are you even listening?/Are you pretending that your heart's in the right place?" Setting the album's overall tone, it's a song that immediately commands attention with earnest, forthright conviction proclaiming, "Alright, this is from our hearts/Sincerity over simple chords/We made some mistakes...but it's a long time coming when you're giving it everything." Alexisonfire embrace the drive and explosiveness of their past to fully come into their own on Crisis -- an album that's the polar opposite of an actual disaster.

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