Every Alexisonfire album ranked from worst to best

(Image credit: Nigel Crane/Redferns)

Disclaimer: there is no such thing as a bad Alexisonfire album. Even when they’re at their worst, the Ontario quintet are still paragons of post-hardcore and screamo music. However, at their best, they eschew subgenres entirely, their songs incorporating everything from metal riffing to bluesy acoustic guitar, from punk snarls to gentle croons.

The Canadians’ ever-evolving approach to rock has been rewarded with ongoing relevance. Their first four albums earned platinum status in their home country, and their long-awaited post-reunion fifth, 2022’s Otherness, continued their streak of cracking the Top 10 in Canada. Here’s that back-catalogue in order of excellence, from the good to the immaculate.

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5. Alexisonfire (2002)

This is how brilliant Alexisonfire are: an album as energetic and brimming with ideas as their debut is their least impactful. Really, the only thing trapping Alexisonfire in this list’s bottom spot is its audible naivety, and to be fair, at 22, guitarist/singer Dallas Green was the oldest band member at the time of its release: the songs lack repeated hooks to keep them grounded and frontman George Pettit indulges in some cringy, faux-poetic spoken-word.

However, between the adrenaline-pumping riffing, and Green and Pettit’s vocal interplay, Alexisonfire bursts with promise. It was also key in legitimising the screamo sound in Canada: after being distributed by EMI, it became a word-of-mouth hit, ultimately going platinum in 2018.

4. Otherness (2022)

Otherness is always leaping between two sonic pastures. Half the time, it’s a victory lap of the album Alexisonfire seemingly bowed out on 13 years earlier, Old Crows / Young Cardinals. The other – and, arguably, more interesting – half pushes the band into arena rock grandeur.

Finale World Stops Turning was one of the finest rock songs of 2022. Swelling from acoustic quietness to an orchestra of synths, electric guitar and Green’s powerhouse singing, it’s the most bombastic and evocative this band have been. Sans Soleil and Sweet Dreams Of Otherness reach similar heights of emotion. Meanwhile, Conditional Love and Reverse The Curse are excitingly full-throttle throwbacks – the only nitpick being that they mark Alexisonfire retreading their steps for the very first time.

3. Watch Out! (2004)

Essentially a refinement of the debut album, Watch Out! saw Alexisonfire channel their frenzied sound into songs that make sense. Opener, and lead single, Accidents instantly telegraphed that the Ontario boys could make anthems from their myriad musical inspirations. When Green bellows the chorus over Pettit’s and guitarist/singer Wade MacNeil’s hardcore whoa-oh-oh’s, that’s still a shout-along moment for anyone in earshot.

Watch Out! also broadened Alexisonfire into some simpler punk and rock ’n’ roll sounds, the barrelling chords of The Girl Possessed and Happiness By The Kilowatt contrasting against some more athletic heavy metal fretwork. Both diverse and streamlined, the album blasted its way into the Canadian top 10 and affirmed Alexisonfire as heroes in the Great White North.

2. Crisis (2006)

Although Alexisonfire never knowingly courted the mainstream with their restless screamo, Crisis marked the release of their most accessible music at the perfect time. It’s a maelstrom of melodic post-hardcore slicker than anything they’d done prior. Almost everything is tethered together by pure punk grit, with only Green’s cries, especially We Are The Sound’s arena-unifying ‘Raise up your hands and sing along!’, rising from the dirt.

The newfound focus so soon after the success of Watch Out! made Crisis the band’s commercial pinnacle. Immediately, the album landed at number one in Canada, within a mere nine months it went platinum. Songs from This Could Be Anywhere In The World to Boiled Frogs are still essential in any Alexisonfire setlist as a result.

1. Old Crows / Young Cardinals (2009)

During the first chorus of Old Crows / Young Cardinals, Wade MacNeil howls, ‘We are not the kids we used to be!’ That statement of maturity is immediately backed up by the album’s music. Just two years before Alexisonfire’s temporary implosion, the band married Crisis’ listenability with a grown-up take on their early adventurousness.

From Old Crows’ swaggering bassline to Burial’s organ and majestic singing, these 11 songs all excel in being distinct yet immediately palatable. After Sons Of Privilege screeches its way towards a raspy pop punk hook (‘I don’t wanna! Don’t wanna!’), Born And Raised invokes fast-fingered classic rock soloing and The Northern crawls towards religious enlightenment, Green singing ‘Hallelujah!’ atop slow-paced chords. It didn’t make for Alexisonfire’s biggest hit or appease the hardcore purists in their fanbase – however, for anyone who values the eternal evolution of this band, it was a (temporary) send-off that showed the five-piece at their strongest.

Matt Mills
Contributing Editor, Metal Hammer

Louder’s resident Gojira obsessive was still at uni when he joined the team in 2017. Since then, Matt’s become a regular in Prog and Metal Hammer, at his happiest when interviewing the most forward-thinking artists heavy music can muster. He’s got bylines in The Guardian, The Telegraph, NME, Guitar and many others, too. When he’s not writing, you’ll probably find him skydiving, scuba diving or coasteering.