Asking Alexandria are a British rock band hailing from North Yorkshire. The band initially formed in 2006 as a six piece, but ultimately released their debut album some years later as a quintet. Since this moment, they have had two gold-certified singles, over a billion streams, and have had three consecutive top ten debuts on The Billboard Top 200. Their achievements as a band in the last 17 years are undeniable, and last year seems to have been an amazing year for them. Sharing stages with the likes of Guns N Roses, Alice In Chains, and Slipknot (to name a few), and destroying stages across all five continents. Guitarist Ben Bruce stated that “[they] moved to America with no money and lived in a car park to make this happen”. The band have put their absolute all into creating a legacy, and they have achieved it. Their fanbase stretches across the world, and this time they’ve said that they don’t have to prove anything to anyone.
Asking Alexandria will be releasing their sixth studio album named Like A House On Fire this May, despite the worldwide situation of the pandemic. I, for one, love that they continued with the release, giving their listeners some joy through these hard times. After a turbulent history, the band seem to have found their stable footing, and are taking their processes and their music into their own hands. Asking Alexandria announced the release of their new album in March, and fans have been waiting eagerly since them. Out of the 15 songs on the album, only three have been released to the public: “They Don’t Want What We Want”, “Down to Hell”, and “Antisocialist” (the last of which you can check out below).
The album kicks off with the first single, “House on Fire”. The opening chords are slow and steady, creating an almost eerie ambience as the sound builds up behind them. Vocalist Danny Worsnop takes over, screaming out the line “like a house on fire”, taking control of the sound that is coming up behind them. Then, as quickly as it comes in, that intensity leaves, and is replaced by a Worsnop singing. It sounds more melodic, more soulful. However, this is all stripped away as soon as that chorus kicks in, and the song circulates back to the image of the House on Fire. The same metaphor Bruce has used when describing the band: “the band is getting on like a house on fire right now.” The song escalates and breaks down consistently throughout the song- it feels like they are mixing genres more in this song than they have throughout their career. They seem to be experimenting more with sounds and genres. However, their song still carries the emotional weight behind it that they always have. Every word that Worsnop sings, you believe it and you stand behind it. The chorus and bridge are accompanied by thundering drums, each beat emphasising the words that Worsnop is delivering to the listener.
The next two songs have the same building sound as the opening track, but this changes slightly when you hit “Antisocialist”. This song was released to the public two months ago alongside a music video, and it hits differently than the first two. The song starts with Worsnop’s voice sounding slightly more distorted, as if they have used effects on it to give it a different type of edge. The song itself feels like a warning, with the central lyrics being “Please stay away from me”. As the name of the song suggests, it feels like the lyrics are about being isolated and alone and feeling different to everyone else. It also feels more targeted to one specific person, especially towards the end when the lyrics state “from my heart, I hope you know this song is about you”. It is almost like an open letter, from Worsnop to someone else. It is relatable to everyone; everyone has that one person that they want nothing to do with, that one person they have no interest in communicating with ever again. The sound of “Antisocialist” is almost like the bridge between the hard rock, almost metalcore sound of the first few songs, and the completely contrasting ambience that the next song “I Don’t Need You” has.
Unlike the others, the song opens with a piano and some soft clapping. Already, it feels like gentler, and more along the lines of alternative-rock, rather than being especially heavy. This is emphasised by the slow, melodic singing by Worsnop. It feels sweeter, softer, but still has the signature grit his voice has. During the song, he is accompanied by Grace Grundy, who gained fame online in recent years through her impressive covers of songs, alongside creating her own music. The gentle sound of her voices balances out the roughness of Worsnop’s, and the song is transformed into a beautiful duet. The lyrics take you on a journey of self-discovery and growth, especially when he sings “I have grown into someone you never knew I could”. Once again, it feels like personal, a message to someone in particular, emotions that they have been trying to find a release for.
The album ends on “Lorazepam”. The song opens up with some distorted guitar before a drum beat and Worsnop’s vocals are thrown into the mix. His voice has a side to it I hadn’t anticipated- a specific sound that is seen multiple times throughout the album, but especially towards the end. It is completely different to the first five or six tracks, and is more reminiscent of an older, more classical rock genre, almost as if it comes from the late 90s. The song has a multitude of levels in it, where Worsnop gets louder and quieter with the vocals. The bridge contains children counting- the light-hearted and burden free voices providing a stark contrast to Worsnop’s harsh vocals. Despite being rougher and more ferocious, there is still that melodic element to his voice. Pounding drums and cutthroat chords play alongside the lyrics, each sound adding punchy emphasis.
The entire album ends on a haunting level. In the last thirty seconds, the instruments are stripped back, and a piano accompanies his voice. Much like the end of the first song, his voice gets eerily low, and he almost stage-whispers the lyrics, matching the low tones of the piano. At the very end, the piano stops abruptly, and the listener is left with the sole words, “push you away”.
After a few turbulent years, Asking Alexandria have certainly found their footing again. Bruce said that this album was the most fun they have had since Stand Up and Scream, and it comes through in their music. It feels freer, and more like they are writing exactly what they want to write without caring about what people have told them to do. The loosening of those reins is inspiring, and so is the message of purely being who you are and doing what you want.
Like A House on Fire will be available from the 15th of May