Review Summary: Asking Alexandria come back with more of a whimper than an explosion.
When you look at Asking Alexandria’s internal drama the last half decade, it’s simply a whirlwind of petty squabbles and moments that parody so close to Spinal Tab it’s almost embarrassing to bring it up. But to try and get my bearings around the whole mess, it’s a lot easier to ignore all that crap and talk about the music at hand – which I’ll be open in saying never did a thing for me; generic metalcore at its absolute worse, with an overbearing reliance on image over composition. But as harsh as I make it sound, my tolerance for these guys grew with more lenience in the days just shy of Danny Worsnop’s exit from the band, this was because the From Death to Destiny
era had a little bit more about it than anything they’d done previously: Worsnop appeared to have an ambitious streak, which culminated to the band’s most mature and interesting effort to date; melody stepped up to the plate, and tracks generally took on a simpler, accessible route. This turned into a double edge sword however, and Danny’s ambition conflicted with the others, resulting in his departure. And with egos taking hold, in typical Spinal Tap fashion, Danny went off to make his exceptionally lacklustre solo project We Are Harlot, while Asking Alexandria took a colossal face-plant with their new singer Denis Stoff; taking a massive step back in terms of sound and delivering the same obnoxious music we’d heard from them countless times before.
Now, be under no illusions here; From Death to Destiny
isn’t a good album, but compared to anything before it, it’s a blessing. So with that said, I have to admit, I was a little curious to see how Danny’s reunion would affect the band’s sound now he was back at the wheel again, and what he’d bring to the table given his experiences outside of the group. As predicted, his return brings a host of epic
synth work, soaring melodies and generic riffs that take a back seat for the vocal work to shine, which in all honesty, is pretty solid: impressive cleans that zip up and down the octave register; varied screams; and some debatable effect-laden backing parts, Danny’s contributions are certainly the strongest aspect of this self-titled release. In fact, looking at the broader picture here, it would appear Danny is the only member in the band to have grown as an artist; the will to move forward and push his own abilities. If you compare him now to how he was even 4 years ago, his progress and control on his voice is tremendous, and I really can’t fault him for that. There are moments where he really shines and proves his own merits: album single “Into the Fire” and “Vultures” showcases this well; these two tracks ensure that he’s definitely holding up his end, weaving in and out of several different styles of singing and screaming while trying to keep it all fresh and exciting. And even though his lyrics are atrocious at times, he helps make the weaker songs that little bit more bearable.
Alas, even he can’t save this from being a futile exercise in generic, overproduced radio-rock though – which is what the overall result feels like. And it’s not even because it’s a bad album, more that I spent time nodding off throughout the majority of the run time here than feeling like I wanted to hear more. Asking Alexandria
is best summed up as shallow, following the masses that are making this kind of melodic, tear-jerking rock: songs like “Where Did It Go"” and “When the Lights Come On” lack even a smidge of memorability – be it the bland riffs, forgettable rhythm section or recycled and generic vocal melodies – and spend more time droning on in a lifeless fashion than making sure they have all their bases covered to deliver on solid ideas. And that’s this record’s biggest flaw: there isn't a solid foundation. There are just too many ideas floating around, and the ones which become a mainstay are never that great to begin with. One glaring problem stems from its tonal imbalance: there’s nothing wrong with a bit of variation, but the bulk of songs here are mid-tempo Nickelback riffs that offer nothing other than boredom, and considering this is meant to be a metal band, there is a disturbing lack of the genre in question. Sure, a song like “Rise Up” will quench the thirst of a fan, but even that sounds relatively watered down in comparison to previous works. No, what you’ll be getting here for the most part is sporadic moments of their heavier sound being shoehorned into contrived rock songs before fizzling out to make room for more of the “emotional” rock aesthetic. My final thought for this approach to writing was one of odd puzzle pieces being forced together, creating a rather unpleasant and jarring result; and when it’s not doing stuff like that its being completely asinine by putting a track like the rap epic “Empire” into the fold: a track that adds further damage to the album for being so out of place and holding very few of the band’s characteristics.
I can’t say I ever had high expectations for this album, but I was hoping for a little bit more than what I got from this. Danny is undoubtedly the strongest part of this album, and holds the tracks to levels of banality, than turning egregious, which ultimately makes the whole thing feel like a waste of time. Asking Alexandria
is too consciously aware of what’s going on around it that it does little to stand out from the crowd and that is what makes it so bland. It wouldn’t have been so bad if it was the type of record that was so terrible it’s entertaining, but it couldn’t even do that right, so the only thing I got from this was a quick nap.
SPECIAL EDITION: N/A