Alexisonfire – Otherness
Released: June 24, 2022
Dallas Green // Vocals/Guitar
George Pettit // Vocals/Keys
Wade MacNeil // Guitar/Vocals
Chris Steele // Bass
Jordan Hastings // Drums
Warning- this sh*t is about to get heavy, and I am going to discuss mental health and depression, so I want to issue a trigger warning. My mental health has been not so great the past few weeks, and then I cooked myself by drinking too much over the weekend. I had no idea how I would get a review out of a brain that spent most of yesterday and today depresso sleeping. So I just thought about how after thirteen years since the release of Alexisonfire’s last album – I am lucky enough to write words about one of my favourite bands, the new album they are releasing, Otherness and somehow something came out.
The album starts with the chugging guitar riff of ‘Committed to the Con’. This song’s slow but heavy feel is an excellent introduction to a slower but heavy album. Next is the title track, ‘Sweet Dreams of Otherness’ which I have loved since it was first released. This song conjures a scene in my mind of a lonely figure standing on a train platform, looking pensively into the distance, and then the train arrives – the figure boards the train, never to be seen again. Random, I know, but the band have said that ‘otherness’- the feeling of being outsiders, has followed them their whole lives. They say they are at peace with it though, because it brought them together and drew their friends and fans to them. This song conveys that feeling of otherness well, and the image of the lone figure on the platform is the perfect personification of this idea. This album is a bit of a departure sonically from the previous album, Old Crows/Young Cardinals (after thirteen years, that is bound to happen), but the classic Alexis elements are there. Dallas Green’s soaring cleans, Wade MacNeil’s husky vocals, George Pettit’s screams with the wall of heavy instrumentation from Dallas and Wade’s guitars, Chris Steele’s bass, and Jordan Hasting’s incredible drumming.
Next is a song that’s made me a little emotional a few times this week – ‘San Soleil’. This gorgeous five-minute ballad leans into Dallas’ City And Colour world with beautiful harmonies and heartful lyrics. The very beginning of this song says, “These days won’t last / This too shall pass / The pain won’t linger on”, and then it says, “It’s easier to love someone else / Than it is to be kind to yourself”. The band said the song is about hanging onto hope at the heaviest times, and holy goodness I need that at the moment.
‘Conditional Love’ is up next, and it has a real Old Crows/Young Cardinals vibe- it reminded me of songs like ‘Midnight Regulation’ and ‘Emerald Street’. ‘Blue Spade’ slows down and has an incredible guitar riff and low vocals that build up to a crashing chorus. The contrast between the chorus and verses in this song is so great; there are also haunting high vocals and a fantastic guitar solo. ‘Dark Night of the Soul’ starts with incredible acapella vocals from (I assume) all three of Dallas, Wade and George. I LOVE Alexis songs where you hear George and Wade singing with their much rougher than Dallas vocals. This six-minute epic of a song features a long instrumental part complete with a guitar solo and some synthy sounds. The bass in this song is moody and rad also. ‘Mistaken Information’ starts off sounding like something from sleepmakeswaves or Mogwai with ambient sounds going into a soulful song with a bit of acoustic guitar action. Then ‘Survivors Guilt’ comes along with a synth solo that Wade says is like something from a John Carpenter film. This song is jarring and clashing in a great way, with George’s heavy vocals and a frantic guitar part leading to a typical Dallas chorus.
The band explained that ‘Reverse the Curse’ was originally for Old Crows/Young Cardinals, but they were self-conscious of the huge riffs and took it out. Thirteen years on, the band have stopped giving a f*ck and are doing whatever they want. It is awesome that this song finally found its place on an album. The keys on this song are fantastic too – a rad old-school organ sound under excellent guitars, bassline and drums. This is another awesome classic Alexis song that will be a great addition to the live set towards the end.
The epic 8-minute slow-burner ‘World Stops Turning’ closes out the album, starting with acoustic guitar bursting into a rad electric riff. This song is a great way to end an album, and for an album full of great guitar solos and riffs- the one halfway through this song is by far the best. It’s a proper, indulgent, extended guitar solo that is just so damn good. Then a repeat of the gorgeous acoustic guitar from the beginning completes the radness sandwich, and the album is done.
Imagine you’re a band who actually breaks up and does an international farewell tour. The members go onto other bands and release solo stuff but then reform. Members go to rehab, get sober and are either in or just about to head into their forties. And THEN you release your first album in thirteen years – of course, you would change. Alexisonfire started as a band of twenty-year-olds in their basements and has gone on to play stadium shows worldwide. This album isn’t the frantic fast-pace of Watch out!, Crisis or even Old Crows/Young Cardinals – it’s a slower, more thoughtful vibe, but it still has that essential Alexisonfire formula. The sound has changed a bit but not so much that fans will no longer recognise it.
Otherness is a great album – it hasn’t fully grabbed me to the point of obsession yet, and I doubt I will ever love it as much as Crisis (I know that album inside and out) – but it’s still damn good. After everything that has happened with this band, it’s so great to see them making new music and know that they loved the process of giving this music to the world. We’re so lucky to still have them and I cannot wait to see them when they make their way back over to Aus. With how much they have always said they love it over here, I don’t think it will be too long. The only band ever is back in a big way!
Alexisonfire – Otherness tracklisting:
1. Committed to the Con
2. Sweet Dreams of Otherness
3. Sans Soleil
4. Conditional Love
5. Blue Spade
6. Dark Night of the Soul
7. Mistaken Information
8. Survivor’s Guilt
9. Reverse the Curse
10. World Stops Turning
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