The sky is falling, everything I’ve ever known is a lie, excessive Rick and Morty references…I like an Asking Alexandria record. For as long as I’ve ever known of them, this British metalcore quintet were incapable of rubbing me the right way. Turning my nose up at the slightest mention of them in conversation, much less having to catch them on a bill in order to enjoy an opener, had become habit. However, with the release of their most recent self-titled effort, such snobbish and twat-like behaviours have ceased, and now I’m just purely disgusted in myself.
The road to this moment was far from an easy one for these North Yorkshire, England chaps, doing the old singer swap-and-return from 2015-2016, as front man Danny Worsnop took a pause, only to make a triumphant return on this record. As I’ve said before, singer swaps are never easy, and the only thing that can begin to trump that feat in this case is the heavy stylistic change in their sound. From the racks of Hot Topic (or D-Tox, depending where in the world you’re reading this from) to the sold out stadiums, Asking Alexandria is, without debate, a band that has found themselves in the more popular walks of life. Is this my subtle way of calling them sell-outs? Surprisingly, no it’s not. A band’s gotta stay afloat, I just wish it wasn’t my genre of choice that got dragged through the dirt in the process.
Now that the political rant is said and done, I can tell you all the terrible things about this album that make my balls jingle like Christmas in a way I can only describe as deeply embarrassing. Asking Alexandria basically pumped out a record with catchy club and radio hits – catchy to the point of not being able to put it down. The meat and potatoes behind this, in my humble opinion, is entirely owed to Worsnop’s return. The compositions and general mastering of the actual instruments in this album are a little stock and ever so slightly lack vocal patterns, so melodies and word play take the helm. Picture all the best parts of the newest releases by both Bring Me the Horizon and Nothing More, and stack ’em with all the catchiness steroids you can stuff into a record.
A prime example comes straight out of the first tune “Alone in a Room.” Stock rhythm, drowning in synth, and hardly noticeable string work, but the second the vocals kick in with this Usher-meets-Sebastian Bach vibe, it’s already over. You’re hooked and you’re never allowed to leave. Another fantastic example of how these tunes are worse for you than fentanyl is “Empire” which features Seattle, WA based hip hop artist, Bingx. Every fibre of my soul wants to say “BOOO!” but my weak little heart painfully enjoys not only the rapping (which is honestly well done), but even the wimpy chorus that follows and sticks with you like a tumor.
Now picture this for eleven more tracks. Sure there’s some filler, and even some actual bangers like “I Am One,” but the fact is that this is a record that your brain hates to like. All of this is to say times change, Danny Worsnop’s a stellar vocalist, intensely synthed-out tunes are what kids like today, I’m getting old and grumpy, and I’m still incredibly disgusted in myself.
Give this record an honest listen and don’t expect much, if you’re not already an Asking Alexandria fan, it will without question surprise you. If you ARE an Asking Alexandria fan, go listen to more Killswitch Engage.
Written by Jason Greenberg
*edited by Kate Erickson