Arriving thirteen years after the release of their last full-length album, Old Crows / Young Cardinals, Alexisonfire’s long-awaited new album, Otherness proves that time has done absolutely nothing to dull the band. If anything, it finds them returning bolder and better than ever. Over the years, the members of Alexisonfire have stepped in and out of other projects and found influence in a wide array of sounds, and the result is clear on Otherness, which feels like a more matured and melodic, but no less explosive and gritty version of the band that many fans fell in love with two decades ago.
Almost immediately, it’s clear that Otherness isn’t a grab at nostalgia. While there are quite a few songs that old-school fans will love (see the powerful and politically-driven opener “Committed to the Con”), this album feels like a fresh start for the band. Songs like the stunning “Blue Spade” and “Mistaken Information” find screamer George Pettit swapping his usual aggressive and gritty vocals to sing harmonies alongside Dallas Green’s soaring runs. “Blue Spade” even features lyrics written by bassist Chris Steele, who began contributing lyrics on Otherness. Meanwhile, one of the album’s singles, “Sans Soleil” would have never made it on a previous Alexisonfire album, with Green taking the lead for a softer, more ballad-ey sound, but it fits perfectly with this collection of songs.
Easily one of the strongest songs on the album arrives right in the middle with the six-minute long genre-bending, “Dark Night of the Soul”, which feels like the perfect middle ground between the band’s older material and their endless possibilities for the future. The track finds Pettit taking the lead on the heavy-as-fuck verses and Green’s powerful vocals taking over the chorus before the jazzy bridge comes in partway through, proving that the band are still finding creative ways to expand their sound and step outside of their comfort zone. In fact, that’s what all of Otherness feels like. Throughout the entire album, the band feels completely at ease trying new things and exploring new sounds. Nothing feels forced or held onto too tightly, and the result is something that flows with ease, where songs like the stark “Mistaken Information” sit beautifully alongside the emotional, electronic-tinged “Survivor’s Guilt” and “Reverse The Curse”, which the band had actually started working on during Old Crows / Young Cardinals.
Otherness is both refreshing and timeless. As a longtime fan of Alexisonfire, it feels rewarding to wait over a decade for a new album and receive something as well thought out, diverse and fearless as this. The songs that make up Otherness have certainly found the band maturing, but without losing the edge that brought them to popularity in the early 2000’s, proving that, no matter where they go next, they’re going to succeed.