Alexisonfire – “Old Crows/Young Cardinals”

Canada’s post-hardcore prodigal sons Alexisonfire once again return with this, their 4th studio album and this time taking a decidedly different approach to their usual sound that they are most known for.

Tracking back to their self-titled debut and then to their Watch Out! album, through to their last release Crisis, there has been a very similar, recognisable sound to their brand of post-hardcore, but as well as this there has been noticeable progressions. Their debut had experimental guitar sounds mixed with furious, cutting vocals courtesy of frontman George Pettit, whilst singer/guitarist Dallas Green focused mainly on the musical aspect of his role. Watch Out! saw him break out of his shell considerably more, and involved more high-tempo set lists and is still considered by many to be their best album to date. The same cannot be said for Crisis, since in many people’s eyes this was a bit of a letdown.

Old Crows/Young Cardinals is immediately a completely different beast, as the status quo has been changed quite a bit in their sound. “Other” guitarist Wade MacNeil lends his vocals a lot more as well as Dallas Green taking a bit more of the limelight and adding richer, darker and more beautiful harmonies to the music, whilst George Pettit takes on an entirely different style in his. Whilst before, Pettit’s vocals were considerably more shredding, sounding like he’d swallowed sandpaper and a whole bunch o’ hate to achieve his vocals, this time he’s taken on a more hardcore punk sound, coming across deeper and bolder than before.

Opener Old Crows builds up to its chorus which contains the sentiment “we are not the kids we used to be”, and its clear to see that no, they really aren’t! But this isn’t in anyway a bad thing, as this entire record continues from this point onwards with its up-tempo pace and deep, enthralling lyrics that contain all kinds of themes, all the while Dallas Green’s lyrics adding richness and colour to the pictures the lyrics paint. Young Cardinals, as the band have said, is a song about the power of nature overturning nurture (as is a majority of the album), which is clear in the contrasting lyrics of natural beauties being destroyed by “nicotine babies being born with no spines”. Chilling, yes, but again the lush, expansive vocals of Green in the chorus brighten things and show that nature shouldn’t be taken for granted.

The pace from this song continues all the way through the next few songs, all of which are brilliantly bold and diverse, until we reach The Northern, which could possibly be described as the No Transitory (from Watch Out!) of this album. It’s a considerably slower song, maybe the slowest of the album, but no less grand in its design with lyrics suggesting strong religious connotations despite the fact that Alexisonfire have not hinted at being in any way religious. The pace is immediately picked back up again as the album continues into Midnight Regulations (leaving no breathing space in between any of the songs as they nearly meld into each other), which has the chorus “Brother! There is no charity for the common man, when he is in need of relief.”

Second-to-last song Accept Crime arguably has the most punk-influenced sound of the album (although, there may not be much in it!) and brings out the riffs and the heavy stuff, before going into closer Burial. Unfortunately, this song brings what has so far been a hard-hitting album to a considerably slow-paced close, and sounds more like something that would belong more on one of Dallas Green’s City And Colour albums (despite it not being a solo-acoustic effort) rather than closing Old Crows/Young Cardinals after the sound this album has achieved. But, again, it’s not that its bad, its just more out of place than anything.

Overall, this is a very confident effort from the post-hardcore Canucks, especially after so many were let down by Crisis. I admit that I was perhaps a bit reluctant to immediately go out and get this album on release despite my liking the band so much as I knew they’d taken a different approach to their craft this time, but if anything Old Crows/Young Cardinals shows that change doesn’t always spell the end for a band, but more a new start in a different direction.



  1. personally i love this album, young cardinals is one of my favourite songs. and thinking about it now i might just give it a darn good listening to…

    • I wasn’t sure about it at first, but now that its had a chance to grow on me a bit more, I really like it and I find that the songs are a bit more varied than before. And Young Cardinals is a bastard good song, as well!! Also, thanks Jona, you’re loverly! hehe!

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