THE BLACK - Asking Alexandria

Asking AlexandriaThe changing of the lead singer might have been the worst thing that could have possibly have happened to Asking Alexandria. From the day they had to say goodbye to the face of the band aka Danny Worsnop, every move in the studio or on stage since then has been watched by the fans and the media. The comparisons to the ex lead singer is always a mouse scroll down into the comments on any of the band’s most recent music videos. On March 25th Asking Alexandria has to face yet more criticism which will no doubt fire their way, as on this day they’ll release THE BLACK, their first record with Denis Stoff. One year after Danny Worsnop left the band, it’s pretty safe to say we’re all intrigued and excited to see how the young Ukrainian will put his stamp on the new material – That’s why I was particularly excited to get hold of a copy of THE BLACK to have a proper listen…

Asking Alexandria PreorderThree songs in, I am really happy with the outcome, it sounds like typical Asking Alexandria. The first song ‘Let It sleep’ starts with headbanging fireworks, but the chorus is surprisingly melodic and even reminds me of Linkin Park (yeah, Linkin Park, fair warning: this comparison will occur more often than you might think in this review). Song Number 2, ‘The Black’ is my personal favourite. A few weeks ago fans could hear the title track for the first time and even back then I really liked the gothic piano part to the end of the epic song. The interaction of Denis and Ben’s clean vocals in this song makes it a standout on the record. Still: I feel the “old” Asking Alexandria vibe, well known from hit records like STAND UP AND SCREAM or FROM DEATH TO DESTINY.

However, after song 3 everything changes for me. ‘I Won’t Give In’ is a soft track with an electronic start with very cheesy and sad lyrics („Every breath you take, I watch you slip away“). The latter really makes me overthink my enthusiasm about this record for the first time. Even though the sound is similar to the former records, the lyrics get lost in the shuffle of empty phrases of heartsickness, both in the clean and screamed vocals. Sadly, this impression for me continues on track 4, ‘Sometimes it ends’. Despite an exciting start to the track, as soon as you hear Ben saying things like: „He’s fucking pissed off, man. The guy was my best friend, and turned his back on me“ It’s clearly obvious (if it’s wasn’t already) that he’s talking about ex bandmate Mr Worsnop. Even though it’s exciting to get insights into the beef between Danny and Ben: „Sometimes it ends,“ shows exactly the problem I have with THE BLACK. The album tries to tend to a more melodic and electronic direction and even emulate Bring Me The Horizon’s THAT’S THE SPIRIT, but too many innovative elements destroy this attempt. Exhibit A: ‘The Lost Souls’. Misplaced screams over a really bad techno beat and the lyrics „1,2,3 – let’s go go go go“ are just too much for me to handle by this point. Linkin Park, Bring Me The Horizon – Now I even feel some sort of Fall out Boy/Panic! At The Disco vibes. (yeah I can’t believe I am saying this either).

After a listen to the entire release, the impression I got grew stronger and stronger – Asking Alexandria tried to experiment with their sound, but unfortunately some of those experiments don’t appear to be very well-thought-out. We go from tracks like ‘Just A Slave To Rock ‘N Roll’ which sounds “old school” like Mötley Crüe, to the pop ballads such as ‘Send Me Home’ and ‘Gone’ that remind me of Thirty Seconds To Mars and don’t get me started on ‘We’ll Be Ok’ or ‘Here I Am’… At least the last two tracks ‘Undivided’ and ‘Circled By Wolves’ bring back my original impression before immersing myself into the record. I initially thought THE BLACK actually started out as a really good heavy record, but on a whole it just couldn’t pack enough punch to truly impress me. Having said all of this, I’d like to think this is not the fault of new frontman Denis Stoff. He’s a more than perfect successor to Danny Worsnop let that be said, and I will definitely give THE BLACK another chance – Maybe it just wasn’t meant to be love at first sight with this record…


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