Every Tuesday, Torontoist scours record store shelves in search of the city’s most notable new releases and brings you the best—or sometimes just the biggest—of what we’ve heard in Sound Advice.
As part of their ongoing quest to break away from the screamo genre they helped popularize (for better and for much, much worse), Alexisonfire have released an EP that sounds nothing like Alexisonfire (or at least not like this Alexisonfire). Continuing along the same trajectory of their most recent full-length, Old Crows/Young Cardinals, Dog’s Blood (out now on Dine Alone) sees St.Kitts’ favourite five-piece once again eschew the chugga-chugga riffs and prepubescent Cookie Monster growls to pursue a multifarious array of sounds catering to no scene in particular.
The title track (which, by the way, is not an ode to Michael Vick) opens the proceedings with a glob of hardcore punk-flavoured grime reminiscent of Fucked Up (coincidence that The Chemistry of Common Life producer Jon Drew helmed this disk? We think not), replete with assault rifle drumming, arsenic-dipped power chord action and George Pettit’s larynx-ripping screams. Midway through the tune, however, there’s a subdued respite featuring Dallas Green doing his familiar, pseudo-meditative, “Hello ladies” crooning schtick—the most recognizable Alexis trope on this EP and, perhaps for the best, the City and Color frontman’s sole vocal contribution.
Ultimately, this is the Pettit Show; but whereas the band’s head-yelper employed a smoother, melodic sing-scream style on Old Crows, he ups the acerbity here, snarling like Gallows’ Frank Carter over the delay-drenched psych-waltz of “Grey” and going batshit Luciferian over the searing d-beat blitzkrieg of “Black as Jet” (streaming above). The latter number channels the faster moments on Converge’s Axe To Fall, all twisted riffs and breakneck rhythms, before transitioning at the halfway point into a minimalist, motorik robot romp nodding to Queens of the Stone Age.
But it’s the closing track, “Vex,” that signifies the most drastic departure for Alexis: a six-minute post-rock instrumental imbued with ethereal guitar lines vaguely recalling Isis at their most brooding. Clearly, the ‘fire have outgrown the Level-Plane Records catalogue they lapped up as little shavers, and are flirting with new influences. Dog’s Blood, then, is their way of testing boundaries with their hardcore faithful; a game of “Will you still love us if we do…this?” And how can they not? Especially when the band showcases abilities as diverse as their lactating contortionist stripper namesake.