For Fans Of
English metalcore contemporaries Asking Alexandria are a divisive band. That’s not a bold statement, it’s as clear as the sky is blue. For every fan, there’s another listener ready to lay the boots into whatever the band presents. So, you know when the British lads eventually do offer something new, whether it’s a gorgeous musical buffet or a stinking mess that sticks to the sole of your shoe, it’s going to generate a response.
There was sub-plot entering new album ‘The Black‘. Internal issues surfaced when long-time vocalist Danny Worsnop announced his departure to pursue his side-project, the more dad-rock oriented We Are Harlot. Therefore, ‘The Black‘ marks AA’s first album with new vocalist Denis Stoff, who doesn’t come quietly, with the musician bearing some mighty chops. Equally, it was suggested by remaining members of the band the album would feature stadium-sized songs, and with Stoff‘s wider range, the desire now seems possible. The change is personnel, therefore, has been a blessing in disguise.
The first few tracks showcase the group’s eccentric yet standard metalcore style, with Stoff showing his abilities behind the microphone, displaying clean sung melodies, harsh screams and piercing growls, all reminiscent of the Oli Sykes stylebook. Moreover, a mix of hardcore and deathcore styles show the chemistry between the band as a whole.
As the album continues, the music seems to channel a series of influences, from stadium rock (‘Send Me Home‘) to classic metalcore (‘The Lost Souls‘, ‘Just A Slave To Rock n’ Roll‘), and some traditional metal as well (note that the last two minutes of the album’s title track sound like a Dragonforce ballad). The instrumentation is as expected on an Asking Alexandria album, chugging breakdowns, semi-frequent solos and electronic influence throughout the collection. While the record has its fair share of highlights, it’s still Asking Alexandria after all and there are some misses, too. One such instance is an audio insert before ‘Sometimes It Ends’, which is directed at their former frontman, specifically his departure.
The ratio, though, has shifted in Asking Alexandria‘s favour on this outing. In the past the hits and misses were usually skewed towards the latter, however this time it’s the promising points that support the rest. Tracks such as the ‘The Black‘, the very anthemic ‘The Lost Souls‘ (tell us this isn’t an Avenged Sevenfold tribute), the riff-fueled ‘Circled By the Wolves‘, and even the cheesy ballad ‘Send Me Home‘ are no strangers to an ideal melody.
‘The Black’ is a solid piece of work from Asking Alexandria. Disagree, if you will, however the statement still stands. Fans that can get over the departure of Worsnop will welcome Denis Stoff with open arms after they hear what he delivers. The album urges you to keep listening, and at just under 50 minutes, it isn’t a test of patience.
1. Let It Sleep
2. The Black
3. I Won’t Give In
4. Sometimes It Ends
5. The Lost Souls
6. Just a Slave to Rock ‘n Roll
7. Send Me Home
8. We’ll Be OK
9. Here I Am
12. Circled By the Wolves