If you recall the turn of the decade, you may remember a band making waves in the extended alternative scene, one Asking Alexandria. Both loved and loathed by critics and listeners, they weren’t an act that tended to shy away from notoriety, resonating the clichéd ‘sex, drugs and drink’ stereotype associated with the genre. Whilst it was presumed that the act where destined for a colossal career, things went a touch astray in 2015.
Frontman Danny Worsnop left the band to embark on a country related vision quest and Ukrainian metalcore singer Dennis Stoff was quickly drafted in as the replacement, promptly leaving the band the following year after cutting all contact with the group. Whilst such a string of setbacks would spell the end for most acts, lo and behold, for Asking Alexandria are back presenting a new self-titled record, with Worsnop back in the saddle as the frontman.
Whilst their previous releases with Worsnop are known to be adolescent sonic displays of indulgence wrapped in infamy, Asking Alexandria is a far more tame and mature attempt. Album opener ‘Alone In A Room’ is a far more sombre and timid track that displays Worsnop attempt a far more withdrawn and emotional persona. There’s no violent breakdown or frenzied electronica backing, and with its wavering vocals and demure background keys it sounds like it would be at home within an early Fall Out Boy release. Certainly, it’s a far cry from the hazing opening tracks found within their earlier releases but ultimately it accurately portrays their change in tone and outlook towards both life and music.
Certainly, there’s a more anthemic and orchestral element to the record, but one that’s repeatedly rehashed to the point where it conjures thoughts of deja vu. Each track seems to comply to a set formulaic blueprint that eventually becomes mundane and disappointingly predictable. Both ‘Hopelessly Hopeful’ and ‘Under Denver’ adhere to a simplistic and similar construction of repeated elementary verse and chorus containing a faux pensive theme and see’s neither track lift off. It lacks the punch, impact and untamed force the band were associated with the in the past and ultimately feels neutered and insipid. Truly, a more mature approach to theme and song writing is welcome; but it lacks the prolific elements that once made this band so infamous.
Despite this, there are times where creativity and flickers of their eccentric past are found. ‘Eve’ and ‘Into The Fire’ are far more aggressive and pounding attempts that are nostalgic of the group’s previous swaggering arrogant but ingenious persona. The penultimate track ‘Empire’ even opens with rap artist Bingx laying a verse; an utterly unprecedented moment within the album that’s a welcome juxtaposition to the un-originality present within this release.
Nevertheless, it’s going to be interesting to see how this album is received by the group’s respective fanbase. Whilst the group have hinted at shifting away from the extremity of post-hardcore for some years, Asking Alexandria is a complete swerve from their origins and contains a more safe, approachable but less engageable sound. It’s not an awful record, but it feels like the polar opposite of what this band once stood for.