See What’s on the Inside: Have One of the Leaders of Metalcore Matured into Stadium Metal Juggernauts?

Asking Alexandria is a band that makes me feel pretty old. I remember the band when they first hit the scene and hit their first peak with the likes of ‘The Final Episode’ back in 2009, and now here I am twelve years later reviewing their seventh studio album, after everything that has happened with the band over the years. I have to admit I wasn’t too much of a fan of the first leg of their career, I wasn’t into massively heavy stuff back then and, even at only 12 years of age, the lyrics for songs like ‘Not the American Average’ felt pretty juvenile. However, they did put out a couple of decent songs before Danny Worsnop was booted, and have done a couple more good ones from what I have heard since he’s come back. But this shall be my first time listening through a full album by them, so without further ado, let’s get into it!

After a short intro track, we reach the lead single of the album, ‘Alone Again’. It opens what I assume will turn out to be the chorus vocals, it sounding massive when backed by the huge guitar chords and lots of synth and atmosphere behind it. It’s a very modern radio-metal sound, borrowing from the likes of Shinedown and Bring Me the Horizon, but it’s very in at the minute and works very well here. A MASSIVE, heavy riff comes out the back of it, only making the track sound even more awesome. I forgot quite how much Danny’s voice sounds like Patrick Stump’s, it throwing me off for a moment and definitely took some getting used to over the top of heavy music again. The verse sounds good, the first half-stripped back and the second having the great riff return. It then builds perfectly into that catchy, infectious chorus again, sounding even bigger this time. They’ve really found their sound in recent years, somehow managing to make arena-metalcore a thing. A great riff comes out of the second chorus before a pretty decent guitar solo rings out over the top, giving off almost Metallica vibes with its technicality, changing backing riffs, and heavy use of wah. It then builds pretty well into a huge final chorus to take us home. This was awesome, and very easily playlisted.

‘Fading Away’ opens a little quieter than the other, an atmospheric beat fading into what is a really interesting guitar riff. The harmonies between the two guitars work so well too, and the higher one dropping out for the verse when the vocals come in is an awesome dynamic. It again builds pretty well into another big, open chorus, the vocals being almost as catchy as the previous ones. The reprisal of the intro riff in the middle of the chorus was also an awesome touch! It heads to what I can only describe as a rap part after the second chorus, complete with Danny trying to audibly catch his breath after before launching into the final chorus. I don’t think his voice suited the rapping, especially at the pitch he did it at, but that may be just me. Outside of that part, it was a damn good song!

‘Never Gonna Learn’ suckered me in with one of my guilty pleasures in rock music, whistling. It didn’t last anywhere near long enough before the lyrics came in, them fitting so well over the top of a pretty beautiful guitar chord progression. The vocals still sound good over the top of it, but not quite as good. It builds to a big, slower verse, definitely an anthemic ballad compared to the other two tracks. The distorted guitar adds a great layer and atmosphere behind it all and really shows off how well-produced this album is. We get a quick build-up into a simple yet enjoyable guitar solo and then a final chorus and outro again finish it off perfectly.  

Both ‘If I Could Erase It’ and ‘Find Myself’ are another two fantastic yet completely different tracks. The former is built around a huge, heavy riff and has an insane breakdown in the middle and as the outro, a great track similar to the lead single. Meanwhile, the latter is the slowest, quietest track yet, a MASSIVE ballad akin to the likes of ‘Moving On’. It still has a fantastically catchy chorus though, complete with big distorted guitars and high, soaring vocals. In fact, it may be the best chorus the band has ever written, at least for a slower song, it’s great. A short bridge leads to an awesome guitar solo, filled with plenty of emotion and reminding me of Synister Gates’ playing a little bit. A final chorus leads to a fantastic, beautiful string outro which would alone land it on the playlist, but everything else helped too!

‘You’ve Made it This Far’ goes back to the Imagine Dragons-inspired intro, plenty of ‘wohing’ over the top of big guitar chords. It drops down to just vocals and a clean guitar for the verse, the drums building it up pretty well into the expectedly huge chorus. It was another great one too, becoming pretty expected of each song after how fantastic the choruses have been so far. However, outside of that, it was pretty much more of the same for the song on the album. It felt like the rest of the song was written around the fantastic chorus, which isn’t always a bad thing, but it makes the rest of the track seem a tad meh.

‘See What’s on the Inside’ is another slower track, good but not quite as good as ‘Find Myself’. However, I do have to admit that the intro guitar solo was fantastic, as was the main one, and it has another great chorus. Also, the bridge with the duelling vocals between Danny and the female one, all backed by the guitar solo, was truly beautiful, as was the half a chorus of just piano and vocals afterwards. How have a band that wrote HEAVY metalcore back in the day gotten so good at stadium-filling choruses?

‘Misery Loves Company’ felt at first like a return to the heaviness, closer to the sound that brought the band in the first place, but then the riff drops out into a typically slow, stripped back verse and anthemic chorus format that almost every song on the album has done thus far. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good formula, but I was hoping for a little more heaviness by this point, even just for one song to be up-tempo from start to finish.

If I’m honest it’s the same criticism I could levee at the final two songs on the album, ‘Fame’ and ‘The Grey’. Yes, neither of them drop down quite as much as some in the verses, but both are still pretty anthemic when it comes down to it. I know it isn’t exactly a bad thing and I also know I’ve said earlier that I wasn’t a huge fan of their heavier stuff, but still, just something a little different, faster, and heavier on this album would have been a great change of pace and split the album up well. As I said, both are good songs, but the formula had gotten a little tired by the end.

Overall: I enjoyed this WAY more than I thought I would. Even though I’ve enjoyed a few of their tracks in the past, I had never considered myself a fan of the band, but I loved every single track on here. It’s honestly up there with some of my most enjoyable albums this year, it is that good. And it even made me want them to tour soon so I can see some of this live. It did everything it should do, and I loved it. I guess I’m an Asking Alexandria fan now!

The Score: 8.5/10

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