Asking Alexandria – ‘Asking Alexandria’ (Sumerian Records) Print E-mail
CD Reviews
Written by Jonni D   
Wednesday, 03 January 2018 04:40

Asking Alex artworkNot so long ago, the future wasn’t all that certain for Asking Alexandria.  Frontman Danny Worsnop’s departure in 2015 was followed by the lacklustre effort, ‘The Black’, featuring the decent but unremarkable contributions of his successor, Denis Stoff.   Worsnop’s sabbatical proved to be equally vanilla; the cocksure hard rock of We Are The Harlot failed to incite much passion from fans, while his solo country debut from earlier this year can at best be described as questionable.  Now with both parties reconnected, Asking Alexandria’s fifth full-length release finds the band in a bit of an identity crisis, seemingly uncomfortable at present with where they have previously been as a band.

 

This is most evidenced in this self-titled album’s sharp deviation away from their modern metalcore sound for the majority of its duration.  ‘Rise Up’ and the surprisingly vicious verses of ‘Eve’ turn out to be the only real concessions to their earlier electronic infused “mallcore” style, but the band fails to convince that their heart is really in the more aggressive material.  Instead, the bulk of the album is made up of synth-based rock, which has more in common with Top 40 radio fare than it does with Killswitch Engage. 

 

The record’s biggest selling point is easily Danny Worsnop’s performance.  In a genre chock-full of vocalists who are as interchangeable as they are indistinct, Worsnop is indeed a breath of fresh air.  Throughout the album he showcases his considerable versatility as a frontman; at times leaning into a modern RnB vibe (‘Where Did It Go?’), at others sounding like a whiskey-tinged Patrick Stump (‘Alone In A Room’, ‘Hopelessly Hopeless’), and briefly demonstrating his screaming capabilities at several perfunctory moments.  The predominantly acoustic ‘Vultures’ highlights a soulful vulnerability that was largely squandered on his solo album, but turns out to be the standout track on this record. 

 

 

Musically speaking, the band fails to live up to Worsnop’s distinctive delivery.  The sleazy riff on ‘Into The Fire’ and the Gothenburg-esque noodling of ‘Eve’ aside, there is little to no discernible guitar work on this album.  This wouldn’t be an issue if the deviation from their usual melodic metalcore style was replaced by something suitably interesting; however, ‘Asking Alexandria’ is bogged down by an overreliance on atmospheric synths without much melodic purpose, resulting in little more than heavily processed background noise.  Worse still, the instrumental accoutrements become increasingly difficult to differentiate from countless modern pop acts as the record slogs laboriously along.  The worst of these, ‘When The Lights Come On’, couldn’t sound more like latter day Fall Out Boy if it tried, replete with shoe-horned ‘woahs’ and haplessly executed sub-drops.

 

Whether this new direction is down to Worsnop or is simply an organic progression is something that can be only be speculated.  However, it’s very apparent that ‘Asking Alexandria’ nails the band’s colours to the mast; a hue that is at this point more of a Maroon Five than a Black Veil Brides.  While the band ought to be admired for not simply playing it safe, with results like these, perhaps they should have done.

 

‘Asking Alexandria’ is out now. You can get your copy HERE.

 

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