Before the release of this split, it had been a while since I had heard anything about Alexisonfire. They'd play a short tour occasionally, but there was no word on recording of any sort until recently, when I caught wind of their split EP with Moneen. It's no normal split, however. Alexisonfire and Moneen have decided to each cover two songs of the opposite band, and contribute a new track of their own.
Alexisonfire is first to try their hand, and it's with Moneen's "Passing of America." Only having heard the original a few times, I'm not quite sure what liberties were taken with it, but the Canadian fivesome do a reasonably good job with it. The sing-song structure of the track lends itself pretty well to AOF's style, but the repeating of the chorus does grow a bit tiresome, seemingly never, ever ending.
Then is Moneen's rendition of one Alexisonfire's most well-known tunes, "Accidents," which sounds drastically different than it appeared on Watch Out! All of the parts that had been previously screamed are now sung, and the parts that were previously sung are still sung, but by the same person, which simplifies the track a lot, but not necessarily in a good way. Moneen then arrive at the final hook far before Alexisonfire ever did, and it's subsequently drawn out over two minutes that had never previously existed. It's an interesting take, but there's no doubt that the original is a more quality track.
The most anticipated parts of this EP aren't the covers, though, but the new songs each band offers.
Moneen's "Bleed and Blister" sees its first appearance on an album, and fares pretty well. The melodic guitar chord progression starts things off relatively well, and as the song progresses, those chords are lost in the atmosphere that slowly develops. With every passing minute, the vocals become more airy, and the instrumentation quieter and quieter, until the end where things return to normal just in time for the big chorus to carry the song out. Then it was time for the real reason I bought this, a new Alexisonfire track, "Charlie Sheen vs. Henry Rollins."
The song sure as hell does not disappoint. Anyone who's heard both of the band's albums is aware of the progression made from the self-titled to Watch Out!, and this track would fit in perfectly as the heaviest song on the latter album. The multi-layered rhythms set the stage extremely well for singer George Petitt's manic scream, which is really brought back to the forefront here. Not to be forgotten however, guitarist Dallas Green belts out a good portion of this song, and his voice has never sounded better. It's Green that's always set this band apart from their peers. Most bands with two vocalists ignore the second singer, while Alexisonfire utilize his immense vocal talents to the fullest. While the song is great all around, I wouldn't mind the guitars being turned up a bit louder, as they seem to get lost in things while George is screaming, only to reappear under Dallas' vocals.
I was kind of let down by this effort as a whole. Neither Moneen nor Alexisonfire brough their 'A' game when it came to the other band's songs. And while the new Moneen song was impressive, it was definitely outshone by undoubtedly one of the best Alexisonfire songs to date. Fuck the haters, this band isn't going anywhere.