Sound — 9
The sound of this debut, self-titled album is intense. When I first heard the introduction to 44. Caliber Love Letter, 4 years ago, I knew I was getting into something unique. Alexisonfire ranges from hints of punk and emo to dashes of hardcore, metal, and screamo. They really do throw everything into a pot and stir it; and what's in that spoon really couldn't taste any better. Heavy guitars, pretty tight drums, and some skillful bass all sung and screamed over by two talented vocalists; this album really does stand out. This album set the stage for a new kind of post-hardcore music. This music isn't for everyone, as some may find George's screams a little overwhelming, and some may find some of the guitars to be too demonic at times. The technical guitars and driving melodies drive many wild, myself included.
Lyrics — 10
The lyrics on this album are beyond any that I have ever heard. Many of these songs have been written in story form as taken from George's life. Some lyrics are about TV shows, and some are about movies. The lyrics are well written and put together, and really fit in with the musical genre. The most impressive part of this album is the layered singing and screaming. In each song, you are given the convicting, determined screams of a lost man, George Pettit, in one ear; and the soft, searching cries of Dallas Green in the other ear. Occasionally you will even get a raspy, demonic voice in your ear, that of Wade MacNeil. A story is told in two parts with each line. The songs are very cryptic and take a while to figure out; which is something I adore. Coming to your own conclusions about these songs is part of the fun. The strength of the three vocalists on this album really shines during parts where three lines are sung/screamed at once. Live performances impress the ears just as much as the recorded material. Random thoughts, searching cries, and teen angst riddle this album, and it's amazing. As a side note, the album art is inspired by the events described in track 4, A Dagger Through the Heart of St. Angeles. The Catholic school girls fight in broken frames through out the lyrics booklet, and would actually make a good short film.
Overall Impression — 9
Although I can't say that I dislike any song on the album, I occasionally skip Jubella, and will leave Little Girls Pointing and Laughing on repeat. That pretty much sums up my favourite and least favourite songs. This group of Canadians does not fail to impress with this debut album, that they recorded when some of them were only 17! Even with such young age, this album beats out a lot of older bands that have the same general feel to their music. With this album, Alexisonfire truly stood out among the rest of the crowd. The things I love about this album are the amazing singing and screaming, the lyrics that are being screamed and sung, and most importantly; the technical guitars. The guitars are amazing for the genre we are talking about here. There are no solos on this album, but who needs them when you have sick harmonies and ridiculous timings? Beautiful interludes in Little Girls Pointing and Laughing, Counterparts and Number Them, and Polaroids of Polar Bears really show off what these boys can do; where the entirety of A Dagger Through the Heart of St. Angeles and Pulmonary Archery show off some of the faster, darker, and sicker things these guys are capable of. What I don't like about this album is that it only has 11 tracks and doesn't take a lot of time to listen to all the way through. However, these guys have a habit of making 11 track albums. I wish that they had put more work into bringing out Dallas' voice more, as he is sometimes drowned out by crunching riffs and deafening screams. I would have liked to have seen some more drumming skill, as there aren't many fills anywhere on the album. The drums are still very well done, but they won't win a best drummer award. I have had it stolen, and I have bought it again. If it ever happened again, I'd hunt it down and buy it again. It's not expensive anyways. If you're looking for something different, but still heavy, melodic, demonic, eccentric, and downright rockin', pick up this album and start learning some of those guitar riffs! This album was my favourite of 2002, and it remains my favourite of all time. Some may scoff that comment, but I stand by it. I listen to it once a day.