Album Review: The Black by Asking Alexandria

Every once in a while I come across an album that is just so fantastic that I feel compelled to write an entire blog post about it.  Asking Alexandria’s latest record The Black is just such an album.  You may remember that I mentioned a few songs off of this album in last week’s post, but that was before I’d had time to actually devour the entire album.  I bought it last Monday (after it had debuted the Friday before that), & it’s been on almost constant replay in my car & on my computer ever since.AA band

If you’re not familiar with the band (as I wasn’t until about two weeks ago), Asking Alexandria is a British metal band which was formerly fronted by Danny Worsnop.  I’d heard the band’s name quite a bit over the past few years, but I’d also heard lots of stories about their excessive partying & Worsnop’s drug use, so initially I dismissed the band as not worth my time.  However, as I explained last week, when I heard Andy Biersack of Black Veil Brides (another band I initially ignored only to recently realize their brilliance) reference Danny Worsnop in an interview, I decided to give the band a listen.  After a quick Google search I discovered that Worsnop actually left the band last year to focus on his new group We Are Harlot.  It is indeed rare that a band can lose their lead singer & come back stronger than ever, but that is exactly what Asking Alexandria has done.  I’m still not a big fan of their earlier work with Worsnop, but this latest album with 23 year old Denis Stoff from Ukraine at the helm is nothing short of splendid.  Okay, enough background, now let me tell you why this album rocks & share with you my favorite tracks!

aa the black

Disclaimer: this is an adult album.  If the F word offends you, this album isn’t for you which is unfortunate because you will miss out on a truly epic record.

The album opens with the brilliant & aggressive track Let It Sleep.  There are a few moments that bring to mind MIW’s Reincarnate which of course is a great compliment in my opinion.  This song is a great way to open the album because it shows off the diversity of Denis Stoff’s voice, particularly his ability to scream ferociously as well to sing very melodically.  Lyrically the song addresses the demon inside of all of us & the struggles we all face in that regard.

The second track is The Black for which the album was named.  This is another heavy-hitting song, but the fierce aggression of the majority of the song is tempered by moments of placid melody that are all the more beautiful because of their contrast with the rest of the song.  The section at 3:05 gives me chills every time I hear it.  Sonically there are moments that remind me of Sempiternal-era Bring Me the Horizon (another British metal band, for those who are unfamiliar), but the song is by all means very original nonetheless.  The piano ending is particularly brilliant to my ears.

denis stoff

New lead vocalist Denis Stoff

The third song is the first single off of the album (I believe) I Won’t Give In.  Both lyrically & musically this is a very uplifting piece.  This is the song that initially grabbed my attention & encouraged me to delve further into the band.  Lyrically I can’t help but feel that this song was inspired by Worsnop’s behavior before he left the band.

The fifth song The Lost Souls is sonically perhaps the most intriguing piece on the album.  The track opens with an instrumental segment that calls to mind a horror movie.  It then switches into a chugging anthem for all of us who have ever felt left out, rejected, or otherwise different than the norm: “We are the ones that no one gave a chance/We are the ones that almost lost it all/Ghosts in the hallway who never catch a glance/We are the lost/We are the lost souls.”  The track ends with a haunting piano solo that somehow makes you want to hit replay & listen to the song all over again.asking alexandria logo

The seventh song Send Me Home is a considerably softer, more melodic track that speaks to the longing for home that the band members feel when they’re relentlessly touring all over the globe for much of the year.  Like any truly great song, there are many ways to relate to the lyrics here.  I think anyone who’s ever been away from home for an extended period or even someone who is missing a loved one who has passed away will find comfort in the longing expressed in this beautiful track.

The ninth song Here I Am is another more melodic piece that helps balance out the blatant aggression of some of the other pieces.  Lyrically it’s an anthem to self empowerment that is relatable to all.

Next up is Gone which is by far the gentlest, softest piece on the album, perhaps the only one that is a true ballad.  The harmonies between Denis & the voices of the other guys are hauntingly beautiful.  While it may seem “boring” next to some of the heavy-hitting tracks like Let It Sleep & The Black, there is no doubt that this song is no less a work of art than those pieces.

ben bruce

Founding guitarist Ben Bruce

The next to last song on the album is Undivided, an unequivocal “moving on” type of song.  Definitely not for the faint of heart, lyrically it is both profane & clever, & the tone reminds me a bit of Antivist by BMTH.

The record closes with Circled By the Wolves, a piece with a very cinematic vibe that makes for a perfect ending to the album.

denis stoff I wont give in

Yes, that’s an awesome owl tattoo on his chest there.

Well, that’s it, y’all.  I don’t know what else I can say to convince you to give this album a listen (& hopefully a purchase).  Trust me, you won’t regret it if you do.

To the guys in Asking Alexandria, I doubt you’ll ever read this, but if by chance you should, thank you for making such a musically & lyrically brilliant album.  Congratulations on coming back better & stronger than ever!

1 Comment

  1. Pingback: Best Albums of 2016 | athicketofmusings

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