Even though the signs had been there for some time, it was still a shock to learn Alexisonfire has pulled the plug after an improbably successful 10-year run.
Throat-burning singer George Pettit posted an obit on the band's website Friday saying the departure of guitarists/singers Dallas Green and Wade MacNeil have forced their finish. He goes on to reveal the split wasn't on the best of terms.
There is a tone of resentment in Pettit's letter, mostly towards Green's decision to solely focus on his sensitive folk rock band City and Colour, which over the last couple of years has eclipsed AOF in popularity and mainstream success.
Having interviewed Petit and Green on several occasions, including during one of their first cross-Canada tours in 2003, a NOW cover story prior to their release of 2006's Crisis, and again as recently as last year, the split feels like a matter of members simply outgrowing their own band.
It's not a stretch to think Green grew weary of playing hardcore songs he wrote when he was 19 and that still largely appeal to fans in those teenage years. Besides, one look at him these days, wearing suspenders and wool blazers while hobnobbing with the Cancon elite, we can assume his passion for hardcore has waned considerably.
Green, however, should be immensely proud of what this band from St. Catharines accomplished over a decade. Pettit, MacNeil, bassist Chris Steele and new and old drummers Jordan Hastings and Jesse Ingelevics jumped out of the gates and rode success in way rarely seen by bands with a hardcore vocalist. They even won Junos (2005 and 2007).
Their innovative video for Pulmonary Archery, rotated heavily by MuchMusic at the time, launched their careers early and probably crashed the website belonging to the stripper they named their band after. Their 2003 cross-Canada tour included sold-out venues in the 1,000-capacity range - unheard of at the time for a screamo band.
They weren't the first to incorporate melodic vocal sections, always courtesy of Green, with spitfire screaming over a thick guitar wall, but they did it far more successfully than most. They also ushered in an era where "hardcore" became an explosively commercial genre, especially in the United States where it continues to dominate.
Last year I asked Petitt how he felt about solo projects outside Alexisonfire (besides City and Colour, MacNeil formed Black Lungs in 2008) and he responded that it didn't bother him. Perhaps it bothered him more than he let on.
Maybe this is what Pettit needs to break out in a new musical direction. His friends in that other Toronto hardcore band, Fucked Up, would probably be happy to help. Surely we haven't heard Petitt's last scream.