Alter The Press!


ATP! Album Review: Alexisonfire - Death Letter EP

When Alexisonfire announced that, before they called it quits once and for all, there would be a farewell tour and a final release, I breathed a sigh of relief. The original post-hardcore heroes weren’t done just yet – we’d get one last chance to send them off in style, with new tunes ringing in our ears.

If you’d have told me then that the feted ‘final release’ was going to be a stripped-down re-working consisting mainly of songs from "Old Crows/Young Cardinals", I’ve have told them not to bother. I don’t think any fan of AOF will claim that OC/YC is anything other than their worst album – why do we want new versions of our least favorite songs?

Also, how can this be passed off as an AOF release when it features less than half of the band, at least at any discernible level? This is more City and Colour with added Wade than it is an AOF record. AOF are famous for having three vocalists – where is George? An AOF release with no George Pettit isn’t an AOF release, if you ask me.

The first track included here is 'Born and Raised'. Sure, it sounds pretty, but the drive and mixture of melody and aggression that made it such a good song in the first place are completely lost. Dallas and Wade sound like they’re having a competition to see who can sound like they’re singing farthest away from the mic.

The whispery-voice contest continues on 'Midnight Regulations', which was an average song at best the first time around. This new version is almost six minutes long, and is boring after about one.

'You Burn First', as re-imagined 'Death Letter' style, at least brings a gothic, broody feel to proceedings. But aside from added atmospherics, this is essentially the version of the song the band have been performing live since ooh, about 2007 (five years old does not constitute a ‘new’ version, as far as I’m concerned), minus all the wicked screamy-George bits. Wade’s sole contribution to the track here appears to be making his guitar wail a little bit, but he does manage to illicita passable impression of a shrieking crow from it at one point.

'Accept Crime' is possibly the worst song AOF ever written and isn’t improved here, and the new version of 'Burial' is barely discernible from the original. It’s ever so slightly more downbeat, but if you’ve got OC/YC, this is not going to add anything to your AOF catalogue.

On the upside, at least they had the foresight to include 'Happiness by the Kilowatt' to finish. Remember when Dallas covered it as City and Colour about four years ago? This sounds a bit like he covered that cover version, which seems a little redundant., but the fact remains that Dallas’ voice is mostly brilliant, occasionally astounding and always touching, and this is one of the best songs in the AOF canon.

Alexisonfire were such a great band because they knew exactly when to go for the throat and when to stave off. Their mixture of aggression and melody was all but perfect, and albums like "Watch Out!" And "Crisis" are rightly revered amongst fans of alternative music everywhere.

The musical landscape will be a worse place without them, but this last release feels almost entirely unnecessary. The stripped back approach showcases Dallas’ voice, but that is why we have City and Colour. In the end, the heart in "Death Letter EP" is one that has long ceased stopped beating and should have been left to rest. Stream the new 'Happiness by the Kilowatt' if you must, but stick to the classics to satisfy any Alexis nostalgia.


James Tremain

"Death Letter EP" is out now via Dine Alone Records.

Alter The Press!