Monday, December 11, 2017

Album Review: Asking Alexandria - Asking Alexandria

It wasn't that long ago there was a form of music known as 'stadium rock'. Despite the fact that the music hasn't changed one bit, that label is now a relic of the past. That's an odd thing to say, since words are supposed to be more enduring than that, but the facts on the ground have changed. Outside of bands who were big twenty years ago (and the Foo Fighters), the idea of rock music filling a stadium is hard to imagine anymore. I can lament that as a fan of a healthy rock scene, but I also can't get worked up enough to be truly bothered by the size of crowds at live shows I will never attend.

Why do I say all of this? Because today we deal with the newest album from Asking Alexandria, a band that is one of the bigger names in mainstream rock, yet is one that is easy enough to slip under the radar that I can't remember if I had ever heard a single song of theirs before sitting down to write this review.

Perhaps it's a disservice that the press release that comes along with the album reminds us that they have shared stages and tours with Guns N Roses, Green Day, Slipknot, and more. By throwing those names into my head before I listened, it did subconsciously set the bar higher than it might have otherwise been. Like them or not, those bands have all produced songs that have endured through the public consciousness, and have become staples of their genres, if not even crossing over into the general pool of known music. Let's be bluntly honest here; Asking Alexandria has never done that, and they aren't going to do it here either.

That's not saying that this album is bad. It's an acknowledgment that they have never transcended rock and roll's limitations. That's nothing to be ashamed of, as very few bands have ever been able to do that, and even fewer in the last two decades. To do so might require taking different turns than we might expect. Let's look at "Where Did It Go?" as an example. It's the song here that likely has the best chance of gaining traction, but for all the wrong reasons. The verses adopt an almost rapping cadence, and then the chorus gives us the lyric, "You're all so fucking outrageous.... mother fuckers running a little complacent." I'm sorry, but that is pandering to the lowest common denominator, and isn't any different than the poser rappers who 'flex' despite sounding as intimidating as a chihuahua.

The rest of the album is better than that, but it seldom rises to a level that warrants praise. The piped-in fake crowd cheers in "When The Lights Come On" is probably a good indication of where Asking Alexandria are; a mindset that they deserve applause, and they'll give it to themselves if we don't. The fact of the matter is that regardless of how often they throw out a stomping mosh pit riff, or scream for emphasis, few of the melodies in these songs connect, and that's how you gain stature. It's certainly not because of fluttering electronic bullshit like we get in "Under Denver", which sounds like an audio version of a strobe light. It won't cause a seizure, but it's nearly as unpleasant.

I said earlier that not crossing over didn't make this album bad. That lack of causation is true, but the correlation is still there. "Asking Alexandria" is not a good record. It's not truly bad in the same way that Quiet Riot's latest is, but it's certainly not good. Instead of taking lessons from the bands name-checked by the PR department, Asking Alexandria is throwing modern influences from non-rock music into the mix, and the result is a muddled mess that isn't going to please anyone. It's too jittery for rock fans, and too rock for anyone else. They've hit an uncomfortable middle ground, and as we all know, it's only the extremes that are remembered.

No comments:

Post a Comment