May 12, 2020 Asking Alexandria – Like A House On Fire (Album Review)
Chances are that if you love Rock-n-Roll, you know the name Asking Alexandria. Riding high off their brilliant 2017 self-titled release, the Brits are poised to return with the highly-anticipated Like A House On Fire on Friday, May 15, 2020, via Sumerian Records.
Against all odds, the UK’s Asking Alexandria have achieved unprecedented success. Their debut disc, 2009’s Stand Up and Scream, was followed by three consecutive Top 10 debuts on the Billboard Top 200—2011’s Reckless & Relentless, 2013’s From Death to Destiny, and 2016’s The Black. The latter saw the band sans Vocalist Danny Worsnop, who left for a spell, only to return for the quintet’s rejuvenated rebirth, Asking Alexandria. Currently sporting nine consecutive Top 20 hits on the Active Rock charts, the band continue to pack arenas across the globe, touring alongside the likes of Guns N’ Roses, Green Day, Avenged Sevenfold, Alice In Chains, and Slipknot.
No longer alone in a room, Asking Alexandria—Vocalist Worsnop, Guitarists Ben Bruce and Cameron Liddell, Bassist Sam Bettley, and Drummer James Cassells—have been to hell and back in the name of Rock-n-Roll. Using the fire as fuel for their sixth full-length studio offering, they are now poised to issue the 15-track Like A House On Fire. Once again working alongside From First To Last’s Matt Good (The Word Alive, Stitched Up Heart), the band blend Arena Rock hooks with electronic atmospherics, continuing to fine-tune the signature sound that they first presented on their eponymous LP.
Like A House On Fire opens to the snowballing tension of quasi-titular track “House On Fire,” detonating into a gritty wall of sound. But what initially appears to be a Punk track fluidly shifts into Worsnop’s smooth crooning vocals accompanied by electronics before it reincarnates itself for the second time, embracing lofty Rock-n-Roll choruses. As an introduction, it’s a foreshadowing of the experimentation about to come, so buckle yourselves in!
Next, as his bandmates eddy around him (that bass!), the talented vocalist is placed at the center of the musical maelstrom in “They Don’t Want What We Want (And They Don’t Care),” meant to get heads banging across an arena. Sporting a technical proficiency that outshines much of their past recordings, the groove is stellar as it leads the band straight “Down To Hell.” In this track, electronics accentuate a sonic inferno that sees the quintet asserting that they’ve been called all the names, and they simply do not care.
Funky R&B twinkles across the verses of “Antisocialist,” building into phenomenally catchy choruses for those who are winning at social distancing. Then, flipping the script, piano and an intimate vocal performance opens the blunt “I Don’t Need You,” an anti-ballad and duet with UK singer-songwriter Grace Grundy. This kinder, gentler (musical) side of Asking Alexandria continues into the midtempo “All Due Respect.” Falsely glittering on the surface, listen closely, as you’ll hear that raised middle finger as Worsnop proclaims, “As long as I’m alive, you’ll be stuck in the shadow of the heights of my greatness.” (Yes, you read that correct!)
The wall of sound returns for the dirty rocker “Take Some Time,”a fleshy daydream that slithers into the bestial legacy of strutter “One Turns To None.” Meanwhile, Cassells’ percussion shines on “It’s Not Me (It’s You)” before the group combines the hard and soft elements of their sound into the beautifully haunting “Here’s To Starting Over,” a definite stand-out.
Following this up, “What’s Gonna Be” goes thick with a catchy rocker that shines bright and shows the power of Asking Alexandria when they fire on all cylinders. This continues into “Give You Up,” a thumping rocker that blends EDM into the mix, before they crawl into the self-reflective “In My Blood.” As the album begins to near its conclusion, the incendiary pummel of “The Violence” borders on a Hip Hop cadence, one that ultimately makes way for the bratty Punk feels that inject themselves into the mocking “Lorazepam.”
Are Asking Alexandria a great band? Absolutely. And yet, Like A House On Fire is apt to be a polarizing record: an often self-aggrandizing, ego-spank session that is simultaneously a brilliantly orchestrated experience that crosses genres flawlessly. They’re good—and they know all too well that they’re good—and due to this fact, Asking Alexandria revel in pushing every button they can unearth.
Because of this, the album wavers, lyrically, in the moments where the British bad boys are hellbent on proving themselves by repeatedly raising a middle finger to naysayers. If you happen to be one of the haters, this pompous spirit is apt to turn you off even further. If you’re a die-hard, there’s nothing that the band can say to do you wrong. For the rest of us, there’s a lot of truly great material inside Like A House On Fire, but you could argue it is at times borderline self-destructive with the quintet’s perpetual need to remind us how amazing they are. For this, Cryptic Rock gives Like A House On Fire 4.5 of 5 stars.