Alexisonfire – Dogs Blood EP (Roadrunner, 2010)

Although Alexisonfire has joked in the past of softening their sound, even going so far as to say they’d start a fund to remove fan’s Alexisonfire themed tattoos when they became a free-jazz band, Dog’s Blood EP may be the heaviest and grimiest collection of songs they’ve released so far.  The first thirty or so seconds should be sufficient to realize that this album was released as an extended play on purpose.  Don’t expect the usual chorus driven anthems of angst, but do not discount it for that reason either. Dog’s Blood is the band’s exploration of a dirtier more feedback driven sound. Dallas Green only appearing briefly on the title track, and instead largely makes his presence on the EP felt through some brilliant guitar ‘soundscaping.’

The sound is simultaneously different and the same old Alexisonfire sound you would expect, almost as if they took some old songs, strapped them to their shoe soles, and went for a slogging trudge through some sludge and feedback. The title track starts things off with a thud, building itself up until the beautiful bass run halfway through, and then again to the chorus. The final two minutes are thick with dissonant chords and resonating vocal work: finally the sounds recede into low bass and screeching feedback. The next two songs follow along the same lines, dark and ‘black as jet,’ with instrumental passages, breakdowns, and some really affecting guitar work. Things Alexisonfire have always been comfortable with, but seem to have taken a different path with on this extended play.  Powerful lyrics on ‘Grey’ are made all the more poignant by some of the most moving lead guitar work from the band, period.

The fourth and final song, ‘Vex,’ is perhaps the most ambitious song in terms of its experimentation, blending Alexisonfire sensibilities with some strong post-rock influences, and stretching the reverberating and soaring instrumental on for a full six minutes. The song really shines through for its divergence. Despite the experimental nature of the EP, a caustic cohesion prevails among the tracks, and some new sounds that could be effectively explored for the next album. ‘Dog’s Blood’ is immediately notable for its familiarity, but with a few listens, it becomes increasingly difficult to pick a stand out track. I for one am expecting the next album to be an interesting departure. In Dog’s Blood, howls heard from miles around, definitely not an EP to pass up!

Liam Lanigan