Alexisonfire – Old Crows/Young Cardinals

oldcrowsArtist: Alexisonfire
Album: Old Crows/Young Cardinals
Genre: Hard Rock
Label: Vagrant [US]

It’s been a few years since Alexisonfire has released a record. Dallas Green, the singer of the group [not the screamer] found some success with his solo project City & Colour, but has often commented his heart is in the heavier world of Alexisonfire. Finally, much to the pleasure of fans all over the world, the group has unleashed their most realized record to date. Old Crows/Young Cardinals was just released a week ago and if you only buy one record this summer, I think you might just need to put your money on this one.

There comes a point in every band’s career where they reach a crossroad where they’re getting older in the scene and need to keep pushing themselves, change genres, or just give up. Not many people would buy into Blink 182 if they were still writing Dude Ranch material and pushing 40. You have to evolve and even moreso, you need to realize the need to evolve before it’s too late. By the time you reach the end of “Young Cardinals,” the second track on the record, it’s clear Alexisonfire have realized this point and decided to push themselves further in the music world by expanding their range and writing more evolved songs. Starting the record by openly acknowledging that they “are not the kids they use to be” let’s us know right up front this is not the same band. They know they’re on the a short list of older groups in this scene and they worried by this fact. It’s empowering to anyone whose gone to a show and or played a show and realized they were older than most the audience [which has been happening to me a lot as of late]. Then, we get the call to youth [aka, the “Young Cardinals”] which is simply a gorgeous song that shows the band sharing their passion and knowledge with up and comers. Seriously, before I’d reached track three I was sold on this record. The writing is just that good.

However, let’s be honest, there are many more songs to go on the record. “Sons of Privelage” continues the brilliant metaphor use discussing wolves and sheep to a sound that’s more punk than the band has sounded in awhile. It’s not all fast and heavy though. “The Northern,” a song regarding the second coming of Christ sounds like an elegant Thrice b-side, but Dallas’ angelic voice makes it the band’s own. It’s powerful, moving, and once again, so well realized for the state of the band, that you’re left with nothing but appreciation for their work.

As we reach the back portion of the album, “Heading For The Sun,” an all out rock track, grabs you from the get go and refuses to let go. Musically, this track really stand out as the guitar work and overall driving sound never let up. It’s like a battler cry over 3/4’s into a record. Crazy, yet great. Also, shortly after this, we reach the all important closing track. Alexisonfire have made a name for themselves off of closing tracks and I believe “Burial” will only help to further this notion. This mellow closing number capsulizes winter and to some extent, death, beautifully. It grows to be rather epic, but it’s all about Dallas here. His voice pierces much like the cold wind he discusses.

I’m sure the evolution in sound of Alexisonfire won’t please all their fans, but for those who also have grown older with the band, it will be a very welcomed record. It’s rare to find a band who realizes and openly discusses their place in the music scene as well as Alexisonfire does on Old Crows/Young Cardinals. If this were a story, this record would be the passing of knowledge from elders to the next generation. It’s still loud and ferocious, but brilliantly written and engaging as well. It’s not about the flash and stardom, but about the music and there’s nothing in the world I could have asked for with this record that would be better than what they’ve given us.

Score: 9/10

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the founder of Under The Gun Review. He loves writing about music and movies almost as much as he loves his two fat cats. He's also the co-founder of Antique Records and the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. You should probably follow him on Twitter.

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  • Good to hear that there are still bands who don’t quit before trying to improve as musicians. I like Alexisonfire’s older albums, now I’m pumped to hear something new out of them.