Asking Alexandria: From Prodigies To Mediocrity
Very few metalcore bands have ever had as much going for them as Asking Alexandria once did. The UK natives were once one of the fastest rising bands in all of metal with a chance of becoming an arena act worldwide but something changed along the way. I'm not going to say the band has failed or become irrelevant because that would be a lie, however they have chosen to make music that feels as though there is no possible way they can be creatively satisfied in making. This article is not meant to bash the band, they are talented musicians and seemingly respectable people but to see a band choose to create music that lacks authenticity when they are capable of so much more is very disappointing. Here we will take a look at the rise of Asking Alexandria and discuss what caused a stagnation in their musical creativity.
Asking Alexandria burst onto the scene in a big way in September of 2009 with their debut record "Stand Up and Scream", quickly becoming Sumerian Records highest-selling debut album as well as releasing the labels most viewed music video for "Final Episode (Let's Change the Channel)", which became a viral sensation. Right from the start he band showed they had something to cut above the rest of the similar "MySpace" metalcore that was coming out at the time. Yes Asking Alexandria did contain some of the negative tropes of scene culture with unnecessarily auto-tuned clean vocals and silly dance moves but clearly they possessed an intangible that allowed them to cut above their peers and gain a large following right from the start. At this point it was clear that the group had something special capable of attracting tens of millions of views and listeners.
In 2011 Asking Alexandria would release the extremely highly anticipated follow up album, "Reckless & Relentless", which would feature numerous changes for the group. Some notable features of the record are; the bands embrace of hair metal imagery and themes coming largely from their influences of Motley Crue and Guns N Roses, the heavy inclusion of deathcore on many tracks, and the subtraction of auto-tuned singing. While critics were divided, the sophomore effort helped further cement Asking Alexandria as forerunners of 2010's metalcore as they were arguably doing the best all around numbers between charting, sales, and views, of any band of their time. The chips seemed to be falling into place for the band to step up to the next level as long as they showed a maturation in sound and as we would soon come to see and hear, they would do just that.
Now that Asking Alexandria was on every metal fans radar whether they liked them or not, their third album would have the highest amount of ears on it that they had ever experienced. Wisely the band knew this and shifted their song, showing great advancements. In 2013, "From Death To Destiny" was released and showcased the groups shift towards a heavy metal style reminiscent at times of Slipknot mixed with hard rock inspirations such as Skid Row and Stone Sour. While traces of metalcore still remained, Asking Alexandria now stood out on their own as unique and possessing a sound that much more people could connect with. Proof of their larger outreach shows up in the form of the album charting at an astonishing #5 on the US Billboard 200 charts as well as becoming their highest selling album to date. Asking Alexandria undoubtedly looked destined for arena headliner status, they now had the sound, the higher level of musical maturity, the sales, and the image. Here however is where we hit a fork in the road in the history of the band.
In January of 2015, lead vocalist Danny Worsnop, departed Asking Alexandria, citing a complete disinterest in making heavy metal music any longer. While Worsnop would go on to create hair metal influenced hard rock band, We Are Harlot, Asking Alexandria would quickly settle on new vocalist Denis Stoff as his replacement. In March of 2016 the band released their sole album without Worsnop on vocals, "The Black" and while many felt it was a respectable record with a strong start and a weaker back end, the band was unsurprising unable to match their previous success. Many fans, right or wrong, did not take to Stoff as the group had hoped. Soon several situations arose and Stoff either left or was removed from the band depending on who you believe. The now seemingly constant tension and drama surrounding the band began to take a toll on a once hardcore fan-base. To the shock of many later in 2016 Danny Worsnop rejoined Asking Alexandria which gave many hope the group could get back on track to claim the spot they once were destined for.
Much hype was built when the band announced their return album with Worsnop, which was released in December of 2017 as a self-titled record. To many, this marks the tipping point for Asking Alexandria to the point of no return. While not completely devoid of anything good, the record largely comes off as very bland radio rock and takes very heavy influence from the formula's of Shinedown and Bring Me The Horizon to the point of mimicking. The album still performed relatively well in terms of streams and views but to many the band had lost their fire and creativeness. To be clear, I have no issue when a band chooses to go in a lighter direction, Bring Me The Horizon and Underoath have done so exceptionally well, however I find it hard to truly believe this sound is genuinely what Asking Alexandria wants to do. I would be much more accepting of a direction change if the band was making Skid Row, Motley Crue, Stone Sour influenced music, all bands Worsnop cites as main influences, rather than making formulaic electronic driven rock that comes a dime a dozen on the radio.
The reason I felt passionately enough to write an article about this is because Asking Alexandria has the talent to do so much more than they are currently doing. They were on the verge of breaking out to a degree that very few metalcore bands have ever been able to do but instead they let conflict get in the way and greatly deter their progress. With the release of their new single, "The Violence" it seems the band is only going further in this direction, moving away from heavy guitar driven music to a more electronic-based style. Maybe one day the band will find their passion to do something different and original again, they're still quite young, but for now it appears as Asking Alexandria will be one of the bands with the most talent, choosing to do the least with their abilities and for a fan of the band such as myself, that is greatly disappointing.