Death Letter EP

Written by: TL on 17/12/2012 18:35:58

If you are of the ungrateful sort, you could find yourself a little disappointed hearing the last ever/for-the-time-being (you never know) Alexisonfire release "Death Letter EP" - After all, it's not everyday one of the few truely seminal screamo/post-hardcore bands of the last decade calls it quits and sounds off with a record that, rather than go out with a bang, sounds more like the side-project of singer/guitarist Dallas Green, City And Colour, than it sounds like any Alexisonfire record to date. That however, is what "Death Letter" does, featuring six songs from the band's previous albums re-centered around piano and acoustic guitar, and with Green's reknowned clean vocals in front, aided by the slightly scratchier voice of Wade MacNeil (who now fronts Gallows, just in case you've been living under a rock).

While not the explosion of aggression and melody come together, that history has taught us to expect of Alexisonfire however, "Death Letter" is a highly atmospheric epitaph and a tribute to the legacy of a band that were always cabaple of more than just simplistic clean/scream combinations. Of course the quality of the original songs will help ensure recognition from many established fans, but even if you haven't heard or don't remember the originals, I dare say it is a credit to both the originals and to the new arrangements that they will likely catch on quickly regardless.

The main attractions here in my opinion are opening duo "Born And Raised" and "Midnight Regulations" which both sound like slightly colder and more reverent takes on the City And Colour sound that many fans will know, and this only fits the type of goodbye that this release is, with Green's deft acoustic melodies and remarkable voice sounding as good as ever. "Accept Crime" also fares well in its new arrangement though, even with Green taking a backseat to MacNeil. "You Burn First" intentionally wavers on the verge of tunelessness, shaking up the listener's attention mid-EP, yet while I like the variation offered by this and by the distorted guitar that lingers and threatens at the bottom of "Burial", I must admit that the return to the 'crystal clear and haunting' approach in the ultimate "Happiness By The Kilowatt" is still the strongest thing about the EP.

I find it hard to decide exactly what to make of "Death Letters" as a release though. If we forget the special nature of this record I can't help but to think that, despite them being recognisable, these tracks are not quite on par with Green's best work in City And Colour for instance. But then on the other hand, I do think it's pretty cool that him and MacNeil didn't go for the most obvious choices when they were recording this, as I think it actually makes for a more interesting overall listen. All things considered though, I don't think I'll list this objectively as among the best EP's released this year, but for grief-stricken AOF fans it is no doubt a must-get nonetheless.

Download: Accept Crime, Born And Raised, Midnight Regulations
For The Fans Of: City And Colour, We Are The Ocean, Charlie Simpson, Deaf Havana

Release Date 04.12.2012
Dine Alone Records

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