December 8, 2017 Asking Alexandria – Asking Alexandria (Album Review)
Get ready to walk into the fire and get brilliantly burned with Asking Alexandria’s self-titled, fifth studio release, which arrives Friday, December 15 thanks to Sumerian Records. Reunited with Vocalist Danny Worsnop, these Brits are poised to reclaim their throne and, oh, how it sounds like a crowning glory!
Formed in 2006 in the United Arab Emirates by Guitarist Ben Bruce, Asking Alexandria (AA or Asking to their beloved fans) would release an EP and one full-length disc (2007’s The Irony of Your Perfection) before Bruce relocated back to his native England and recruited a new, local line-up in 2008.
The then six-piece Metalcore force to be reckoned with would release their debut, Stand Up and Scream, in 2009, followed by two more studio albums – 2011’s Reckless & Relentless to 2013’s From Death to Destiny – before Worsnop departed the band and Denis Stoff stepped in on vocals for 2016’s The Black. As luck would have it, Stoff would depart Asking Alexandria in October 2016, making way for the return of Worsnop and a rejuvenation of the band, as a whole.
Success has sent Asking Alexandria around the world, sharing stages with the likes of Motörhead, Slayer, Slipknot, Korn, Avenged Sevenfold, Bring Me The Horizon, Trivium, Motionless In White, August Burns Red, We Came As Romans, Dance Gavin Dance, Stick To Your Guns, Betraying the Martyrs, and so very many more. Thanks to their well-honed talents, the band – Worsnop, Bruce, Guitarist Cameron Liddell, Bassist Sam Bettley, and Drummer James Cassells – are now poised to make a triumphant return with their fifth studio release, the eponymous Asking Alexandria. Produced by former From First To Last Guitarist Matt Good (The Word Alive, Memphis May Fire), the band’s twelve-song collection shows a band coming into their own with pride and a pinch of self-certain attitude.
The very first line of Asking Alexandria is the honest and straightforward: “I’ve been away a little while.” What follows explodes with the massive, multi-layered sonics of “Alone In a Room,” paving the way for Worsnop’s vocals to soar between angry growls and beautiful harmonies interwoven with candid confessions of the most personal nature. If this is how you make a matured, drug-free, self-aware comeback, then bring it on!
Similarly, first single/video “Into the Fire” marks a band coming to terms with the heavens and hells that they have seen throughout their career, and stepping forward to embrace the devious feeling of being burned alive. There is a certain honesty when you can admit that you’re the “narcissistic elephant in the room,” and that ekes out as a superbly infectious, hard-rocking track that heralds the return of Asking Alexandria as a vital force in music, no matter the genre.
“Hopelessly Hopeful” is at times lulling, a dream within a dream that builds into massive melodies and a steady, seductive beat, while “Where Did It Go?” places Asking Alexandria on a throne of their own crowning, pointing fingers at their contemporaries. The pseudo-rap verses that permeate the track are reminiscent of Slipknot, and though, sonically, this is a killer sound, aren’t we getting a bit big for our britches, boys?
Dynamite drumming from Cassells and sludgy bass-lines from Bettley anchor the mega-sonic layering of “Rise Up,” where Worsnop leads a gritty charge aimed at world domination. “When The Lights Come On,” an homage to what AA love most – performing live and bringing the house down – offers up a more experimental sound that feels like a Fall Out Boy meets Stone Sour hybrid on its verses. Continuing to toe a more abstract line, the sweetness of “Under Denver” is a falsehood: this is a sarcastic ode to those that pull the wool over their eyes and comply, obey, salute; and a hope for a more informed future.
Electro-acoustic “Vultures” is a candid look behind the eyes of a musician who, at every turn, is greeted by those that want a piece of him, wish to bleed him dry for whatever they can get. It flows perfectly into another intriguing offering, the quasi-biblical apple of “Eve,” a multi-layered Rock assault pulsating with deliciously sinful bass-lines. Lest you think that Asking Alexandria has turned toward the Good Book, behold “I Am One,” fraught with spine-tingling whispers and devious screams that don’t know what to believe and yet reclaim the self from the Holy Trinity.
Gorgeous synths dip into candy-apple sweetness for the kinder, gentler lines of “Empire,” featuring Rapper Bingx; a soaring, beautifully effective track that feels a bit Linkin Park 2017. Before they can conclude this presentation and retire to their self-built empire, however, Asking Alexandria offer up one more track: personal suffering floats across the surface of “Room 138,” a confession from the past, from a man struggling to overcome his addictions and live to see a new day. It is, in effect, the beginning and the end in one: the nexus that has seen Asking Alexandria through commercial successes and personal failures; breaking them apart to rebuild the band that we experience on Asking Alexandria, the album.
Asking Alexandria, therefore, is a superb offering from a band matured and ready to face their future with renewed purpose and clean blood racing through their hungry veins. Crossing genres with ease, confusing the categorizations and sounding like a sonic wet dream, Asking Alexandria is the comeback without a departure: the personally candid, open and honest offering from a band of Brits who are admittedly a bit cocky, yes, but perhaps that self-certainty has been forged in their travels through the inferno.
Whatever the case, this album scolds: from the its initial igniting “Alone In a Room” to stand-outs “Into the Fire,” “Hopelessly Hopeful,” “Where Did It Go?,” “Eve,” and “I Am One.” Clearly you are going to want to ask Santa Claus for something British in your stocking this year! CrypticRock give Asking Alexandria’s Asking Alexandria 5 of 5 stars.