The end of the 20th century was rough for the world of rock music. Nu-Metal bands like Korn and Limp Bizkit were dominating the charts with their methodical combining of mediocre rock with mediocre rap.
Then, as the world stood in shock at the lack of a y2k-fueled apocalypse, something happened. Bands began to trade in the cheesy lyrics and turntables in favor of more emotive lyrics. 2000 saw At the Drive-In finally reach mainstream success with Relationship of Command, and suddenly post-hardcore had begun to move into the mainstream.
It was two years later when a group of Canadian teens would release their self-titled debut. From that day until their breakup in 2011, Alexisonfire became one of the biggest post-hardcore acts to grace the stage. That album would eventually go gold and the band would be cited as one of the biggest influences on the Canadian rock scene in recent memory.
Announcing a return last year with a reunion tour culminating in an official announcement at Toronto’s Riot Fest, Alexisonfire has returned to showcase the music that they once described as “the sound of two Catholic high-school girls in mid-knife-fight.” To celebrate the return, Alexisonfire has released their first full-length album since 2009’s Old Crows / Young Cardinals, a live recording from their 2012 farewell tour.
Alexisonfire: Live At Copps was recorded in front of a sell-out crowd of 10,000 in Hamilton, ON. The feel of the album is captured early. “This is not a funeral. This is a fucking celebration,” declares Dallas Green as the band wraps up the Old Crows / Young Cardinals’ track “Heading for the Sun.” The band brings a tremendous amount of energy to every song. Even tracks that they had been playing since the inception of the band, such as “.44 Caliber Love Letter,” show the frenetic pace of the band at its best.
From the slow build-up of “Young Cardinals” all the way until “Crisis”, the album’s seventh track, the band seems to be determined to draw all 10,000 fans into a mosh pit. Each song is heavier than the last and the unclean vocals of George Pettit seem to be driving the pace, particularly on “Crisis.” You can feel that the band is feeding off of the energy of the crowd and, possibly, the energy of the band’s uncertainty.
While the tempo is finally brought down a bit for “Rough Hands,” the energy certainly is not. Even on the band’s slowest moments, such as “The Northern,” the energy can be felt and seems to be spurring the crowd on. When singer Dallas Green pulls back, the crowd is happy to take over for him, singing every word.
Fans of the band will be delighted by two inclusions in the album. First is “Charlie Sheen VS. Henry Rollins”, a song only heard on the 2005 The Switcheroo Series split EP with Moneen. The track showcases Green’s theatrical vibrato alternating with long sections of Pettit’s dirty vocals. “There is one thing for sure, this is not a fucking love song,” the song’s lyrics announce, and Pettit’s energized fury does it’s best to prove this.
Much later in the album, the band launches into “Dog’s Blood.” The song features Olly Mitchell, the former vocalist of Johnny Truant. This track marks a significant departure in the band’s trademark style, focusing more on straight hardcore punk. Released on 2010’s Dog’s Blood EP, the song shows the band playing as hard and fast as they can for three minutes before a slow melodic section leads into Green singing over sparse electric guitar picking, before finally transitioning back into a style that Alexisonfire fans will be much more familiar with.
As the band wraps up the set with the melodic crowd pleaser, “Happiness By The Kilowatt,” Green launches into a heartfelt and very sincere thank you to the crowd. This seems to be the theme of the album, not so much a farewell as an earnest gift for the fans that had made their career possible.
As a whole, Alexisonfire: Live At Copps is a successful album. The recordings may not be as clear as the studio versions of these songs, but that is the beauty it. It manages to perfectly capture the energy of the band at a time of transition. There is no doubt that fans will feel that energy as they listen. While the band has left their future up in the air by stating that despite their return, there are “no immediate plans,” Alexisonfire: Live At Copps will definitely satiate the thirst of their fanbase for now.