As we find ourselves heading into Asking Alexandria‘s fifth studio album, we can’t be blamed for not quite knowing what to expect. Shifting vocalists and releasing two LP’s in the space of 24 months has its fair share of reckless abandon attached to it, and you can’t help but feel like this self-titled attempt is an effort to cover up wounds left from its lackluster predecessor in the form of 2016’s ‘The Black’.
Asking Alexandria’s shift from a metalcore band to rock outfit is as complete as it has ever been in this record. Expect to hear more choruses turned up to 11 than breakdowns that cut deep here. In some ways it’s for the best, for quite some time now it’s been clear that returning vocalist Danny Worsnop has seen himself as far more than just a singer with a dark set of growls on him; and as a result the record seems to wrap around Worsnop – creating a listen that at the very least seems like a full collaborative effort.
Bringing the seismic rock feel works on tracks such as the opening one-two of ‘Alone In A Room’ and ‘Into The Fire’ which are anchored excellently by Worsnop’s distinct tone. As you may have guessed; it’s Danny who is the star of the show throughout the album – and while Asking Alexandria have had their fair share of critics throughout the last eight years, it’s hard to deny that Worsnop is one of the great vocal talents within any form of metal over the last decade.
At it’s best S/T has all the power, and swagger of a great contemporary rock record – with ‘Under Denver’ being an example of AA successfully bridging themselves into a band that can write one hell of a titanic chorus. At its worst though, the record is a lyrically bland – textually held back landscape of flat ground. ‘Where Did It Go’ and ‘Rise Up’ are as uneventful as their titles suggest, while ‘When The Lights Come On’ and ‘Vultures’ are inescapably filler and are a particularly trying listen.
Things do pick back up in the form of ‘Eve’ which brings that heavy tone you find yourself craving throughout the record, and despite it’s surprising inclusion of rap/hip hop ‘Empire’ finds itself as one of the more diverse, creative four-minute stints on the album. Though there’s nothing too far out of the ordinary in terms of quality here – it’s refreshing to see the quintet at least throwing different ideas around.
S/T is a perfectly decent modern, synth-infused rock record that has a superbly adaptable vocalist at its helm – but it never quite breaks away into stardom. Over the past two years the steam has seemingly cooled for Asking Alexandria; and while still popular – they don’t feel like the same crowd conquering band that they were back in 2009-2013. This record does play its part in attempting to recreate some of the original fire but ultimately falls short of the mark; if AA were hoping this would be their chance to get back on top of their game, there’s still some work to do.