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Asking Alexandria

Schizoid screamo metalcore that crossed more boundaries than most bands; lead guitarist Ben Bruce kick-started the act in 2003 from Dubai, UAE (originally as Amongst Us, then End Of Reason), ASKING ALEXANDRIA finally established their wares on the other side of the Big Pond with top charting albums, `Reckless & Relentless’, `From Death To Destiny’ and `The Black’.
Many would say the band really formed in 2008 in York, England, after Bruce and a few others (singer James Murray, rhythm guitarist Robin Everett, bassist Lucas Brown and drummer Hitesh Ghandi) had laid download tracks for a self-financed album, THE IRONY OF YOUR PERFECTION (2007) {*5}. Not considered AA’s debut set due to its internet-only slant, Ben Bruce returned to Nottingham where he encountered 18 year-old singer/growler Danny Worsnop and, in turn, rhythm guitarist Cameron Liddell, drummer James Cassells, keyboard/synth player Ryan Binns (who left late ’08) and bassist Joe Lancaster; the latter dropped out to form WITH ONE LAST BREATH, making way for Sam Bettley.
Subsequently sharing a flat in York, Worsnop and Bruce planned their course of action whilst finding a worthy ally in American producer Joey Sturgis, who recommended ASKING ALEXANDRIA to Ash Avildsen’s coast-to-coast Sumerian Records. Wasting as little time as possible, STAND UP AND SCREAM {*6}, was released globally between September 2009 and May 2010. `The Final Episode (Let’s Change The Channel)’ was chosen as a video promo release, one of the many growling/choirboy angst-ridden blasts that melded metalcore with trance-electronica; press-play `If You Can’t Ride Two Horses At Once… You Should Get Out Of The Circus’, `I Used To Have A Best Friend (But Then He Gave Me An STD)’ and `A Prophecy’; ALESANA’s Shawn Milke featured on `Hey There Mr. Brooks’.
An unusually diverse paean to hard-rockers SKID ROW (at least in its opening covers `Youth Gone Wild’ and `18 And Life’), the hot-to-trot EP `Life Gone Wild’ also housed versions of `Not The American Average’, ` A Single Moment Of Sincerity’, `I Was Once, Possibly, Maybe, Perhaps A Cowboy King’ and `Breathless’, the latter a preview of their follow-up set. 2011’s RECKLESS & RELENTLESS {*7} secured the band their first Top 10 entry, although home-land Britain would take longer in bending to their derivative devil-dirges. Like a meeting of NAPALM DEATH and FALL OUT BOY, their battering-ram assaults such as `Dear Insanity’, `Closure’ and `A Lesson Never Learned’ were tempered with the odd tune or two.
Pushing to one side, a dance-rock remix set STEPPED UP AND SCRATCHED (2011) {*5} and another covers-type EP, `Under The Influence: A Tribute To The Legends Of Hard Rock’ (songs courtesy of JOURNEY, MOTLEY CRUE, WHITESNAKE and DEF LEPPARD), in FROM DEATH TO DESTINY (2013) {*6}, ASKING ALEXANDRIA were again hitting the ball out of the park. Similar in many respects to noisy neighbours BRING ME THE HORIZON, ENTER SHIKARI, AVENGED SEVENFOLD, among others, the metalcore continued to grind for `Don’t Pray For Me’, `Killing You’, `Break Down The Walls’ and `Until The End’.
And then came the untimely defection, in early 2015, of Worsnop, who wanted to concentrate on supergroup WE ARE HARLOT; his replacement found forthwith when Ukrainian-born Denis Stoff (alias Denis Alexandrovich Shaforostov, from copycat act MAKE ME FAMOUS) joined. Affecting little in their breaking of the sound barrier, and once again produced by Sturgis, the nihilistic Top 10 (UK No.15) THE BLACK (2016) {*7} divided metal music lovers into two camps – more or less the impressionable youth or their discerning parents/grandparents. Attaching a more streamlined and conventional turn of events on the likes of the hook-line and catchy, `I Won’t Give In’, `Send Me Home’, `Here I Am’ and `Gone’, the tattooed love boys could well be accused of selling out to the corporate FM-radio gods. But then again, listening to the pummeling `Let It Sleep’, `The Lost Souls’, `We’ll Be OK’, `Circled By The Wolves’ and the title track, AA had lost none of their demonic dynamism.
Stoff making way for the reinstated Worsnop, the eponymous ASKING ALEXANDRIA (2017) {*6} proved to be the catalyst that switched, normally loyal kinship, to abandon their derivative post-hardcore sounds. Still, metalheads in the US bought into the Top 30 set. Rapper Bingx stepped out with the band on `Empire’, though their was no denying that the drama and demonic bellows were on board for the likes of `Eve’, `Into The Fire’ and `Alone In A Room’.
Almost slipping out of transatlantic chart contention with post-Coronavirus May 2020 set, LIKE A HOUSE ON FIRE {*6}, the band’s blend of melodious metal balladeering was beginning to grate. Even the moody flirtation with social media starlet Grace Grundy – on `I Don’t Need You’ – was hardly the answer, and but for fist-pumping saviours-of-sorts, `The Violence’, `House On Fire’ and `Down To Hell’, the angst-y AA looked to be chasing their tails.
© MC Strong/MCS Mar2016-May2020

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