On this day 10 years ago, Canadian post-hardcore outfit Alexisonfire contributed their third studio effort Crisis to their respected genre. The album was a follow-up to the well-received Watch Out!, which reached platinum certification in Canada in its peak. Upon the initial release of Crisis, the work was also very well-received by their fan base, reaching the same platinum status in Canada and also debuting at number one on the Canadian Albums Chart. 10 years later, the album still holds a special place in the hearts of avid post-hardcore and melodic metal fans, and adds a wonderful foundation for how an album should be constructed.
In regards to the discography of Alexisonfire, their debut self-titled release was nothing short of intense, but was very George Pettit-heavy on a vocal standpoint, with occasional features from guitarist/vocalist Dallas Green. In contrast, their follow-up release Watch Out! was very Green-heavy on vocals, while Crisis found a healthy balance between all the members, and remains the most cohesive and balanced release Alexisonfire made to date.
Vocals aside, the album features tremendous energy from members such as Jordan Hastings, who made his debut on Crisis and replaced the founding drummer Jesse Ingelevics. Hastings’ fills in the infectious opening track “Drunks, Lovers, Sinners and Saints” and “Mailbox Arson” lay a fantastic framework for what a solid post-hardcore release should contain.
On a lyrical standpoint, the album possesses qualities that remain personal and relevant as time passes. The clever parallel drawn between how Pettit’s dad was nearly cheated out of his pension and the theory that frogs won’t notice they’re being boiled if the temperature is slowly raised is just as brilliant today as it was when it was written in “Boiled Frogs.” Conflicts between the working man and upper management is still very real, and can resonate with nearly any listener. The poignant and somber nature are just as powerful in “Crisis,” which was written in reference to the Great Lakes Blizzard of 1977.
Though Crisis possesses some timeless tracks, the album isn’t perfect by any means. “You Burn First,” featuring guest vocals from Planes Mistaken for Stars frontman Gared O’ Donnell adds some diversity with its toned-down nature, but doesn’t serve as a heavy-hitter compared with the rest of the tracks. That’s not to say the track doesn’t fit with the scheme of the album, it remains one of the more brood offerings AOF have released on a studio effort. There remain other tracks worth going back to and leaving on repeat within Crisis even after 10 years.
What makes Crisis so special after the time has passed is what it contributed to the genre as a whole. The album is credited as having influence on works such as Silverstein‘s Arrivals & Departures, Cancer Bats‘ Hail Destroyer, We Are the Ocean‘s Cutting Our Teeth, Four Year Strong‘s In Some Way, Shape, Or Form and 36 Crazyfists‘ Time and Trauma. Alexisonfire went into the studio with a focus on writing show-friendly material with hooky choruses, but the result was something much deeper. Whether or not the group realized it at the time, they created a movement within Canada and other areas of the world that sparked monumental releases and upped the intensity in a live environment. To this day, Crisis arguably remains the most memorable of Alexisonfire’s work, with tracks that hit just has hard on their hundredth spin as they did on their first.