Review Summary: The sound of a band maturing and slowly finding their own sound.
Asking Alexandria was one of the first bands (along with Attack Attack) to create the infamous Risecore or Crabcore genre/sound. Alternating between constant chugging, simple breakdowns, clean choruses and the occasional trance beats, the genre quickly became popular with young people for its infectiousness and simplicity. For the others, it was annoying, incoherent, repetitive, fake and shallow music. Now releasing their third album, From Death To Destiny, Asking Alexandria is more or less trying to escape the genre they helped create in the first place (mainly by incorporating 80’s hard rock influences). While it doesn’t entirely work, it would be dishonest to say there aren’t headbanging riffs and memorable choruses here.
The first thing that hits is the grand scale of things. Opening track and highlight ‘’Don’t Pray for Me’’ starts off with a well-orchestrated (albeit a bit cheap sounding and overlong) electronic intro and is followed by huge heavy riffs complete with double-bass drum. The verse that follows has actual riffs for once and leads into a big chorus that fits for once. Once the inevitable chugging breakdown comes in, you are so pumped already that you can’t help but go along with it.
The other thing that jumps at you is Danny Worsnop’s change in vocal style. The harsh vocals have become more aggressive (a bit Slipknot-ish) and less brutal, which brings a new energy to the band. The singing has also become grittier and less produced, which makes it sound more honest and real at the cost of some not-so-great sounding moments. The lyrics have also changed from hateful ‘’be yourself’’ rock’n’roll anthem to inspiring ‘’be yourself’’ anthem. Instead of saying ‘’I do what I want, go f*ck yourself’’, it says ‘’Do what you want, nobody else matters’’, which makes a big difference. It’s pretty generic at times, but it shows maturity for a guy who often came out as a self-centered a**hole.
What’s unfortunate is that, while the album is certainly solid overall, it never reaches the level of ‘’Don’t Pray for Me’’ again. There are a lot of times where the band seems to be unto something, everything flows well, the energy is there, and then the bands suddenly throws it all away for a painfully generic breakdown. I understand you want to keep your old fans, but don’t make it so forced. The best example of this would be ‘’Believe’’. It may starts as a ‘’Closure’’ (from the last album) rip-off, but it’s fun anyway and has one of the strongest choruses of the album. However, the second half becomes so boring that it kills what could have been one of the stronger cuts from the album. ‘’Poison’’ starts with a good heavy groove and Danny’s urgent harsh delivery only to randomly transition in one of the softest choruses on the record. ‘’Until The End’’ is probably the worst offender though. It’s starts off well enough with massive riffs and strong harsh vocals, but as soon as Howard Jones (ex-Killswitch Engage) comes in, the song becomes incoherent and boring with some of the worst vocals here. I also feel the need to mention how terrible Jones’ part is. I don’t know whose fault it is but how they managed to make him sound so weak and full of stupid effects baffles me. It’s decisions like these that show that Asking Alexandria isn’t willing to completely break out of their established sound just yet. Almost every song has a moment like this that kills the vibe to varying degrees.
Thankfully, even if the songwriting still needs work, more of it works than doesn’t. The chugging and breakdowns have been relatively reduced, particularly in the more 80’s hard rock influenced songs like ‘’Break down the Walls’’, ‘’White Line Fever’’ and the ballad ‘’Moving On’’. While not that impressive on their own, they are solid and bring variety to a sound that can become tiresome really quickly. ‘’Moving On’’, which features especially strong vocals by Danny, completely embraces its 80’s cheesiness and Fleetwood Mac influence (‘’You Can Go Your Own Way’’). Other songs are average overall but have strong parts hidden inside them. ‘’Creature’’ is just okay until the stringed breakdown comes in and elevates it because of who well it flows. Same thing can be said for ‘’The Road’’ but there it’s the chorus that shines.
Overall, Asking Alexandria’s new album is continuing their slow but steady improvement over the years. It’s far from perfect, don’t get me wrong, but I feel like they really did try this time around. Maybe in some years, these guys will completely solidify their sound and make people forget that because of bands like them, we have awful ‘’artists’’ like Capture The Crown, Etienne Sin or Woe, Is Me.