LP Review; Asking Alexandria: “Asking Alexandria”

“Alone In a Room” starts with a single semi-tone that fades into a guitar feature that establishes a gentle melody, and it is soon accompanied by the remainder of the instrumental section along with electronics. When the vocals enter, the instrumental section decreases their sound to allow the first vocals of the album to shine. The vocal technique utilized in this first verse fall under the smooth, lyrical category as the vocals glide over top the melodic content. As the selection progresses, the instrumental section sets a strong groove in place that remains static throughout the entire work. The melodic material fluctuates with timing by switching to the halftime feel when the band includes a harsh vocal style throughout the melody. In the middle of the song, the band drops down in dynamics to switch to a faint instrumental feature that eventually passes back to the previously stated musical material, which drives to the end of the work. This is a strong selection for the first track, for it shows their audience the new style that the band is utilizing throughout the album.

 “Into the Fire” starts with an instrumental groove from the first downbeat of the work. This groove is created through a heavy pulse in the percussion section with a small guitar motive. Also, both sections toy with the halftime feel until the aggressive vocals enter for the first verse. As the band moves towards the chorus of the work, they shift back to the clearer vocal style that is seen throughout the first selection of the album. Even though the band isn’t using their harder vocals consistently throughout this work, it is apparent that the vocals in this selection have a bit more edge to them, which adds color to the album as a whole. Towards the end of the work, the band includes a section that focuses on three strong hits in the instrumental section with brief moments of silence in between them. This section phases into a heavy vocal breakdown for the band, which resembles older techniques that the band has utilized on older albums. After this brief feature, the band switches back to the original sound of this work.

“Hopelessly Hopeful” starts with a prerecorded canon of voices that stretches throughout the upper and lower register, musically speaking. As this is progressing, the band includes a faint undertone to act as the foundation of the selection. The vocals enter in almost abruptly, when they do so, the groove that the band establishes pulls influence from the pop musical genre; additionally, the vocals that are featured in the first verse feel as if they belong to the alternative musical genre. This mixture doesn’t produce a displeasing sound; however, this is a sound that the band has never provided to their audience. This could go either way for the band, it does show their audience that they are willing to take risks, and they are able to stretch their musical talent through several genres, but this sound is far from their “original” sound; thus, it wouldn’t be hard for die-hard fans to be disappointed with this selection. As the song pushes forward, it is seen that this song is structured like an average alternative song, and it isn’t overly exciting lyrically speaking.

 “Where Did It Go?” starts with a chord that is built throughout the entire instrumental section that simmers until the first round of vocals enter. The vocal technique that is used throughout the first verse is a graceful, clean driven tone that switches to vocals with more edge to them in a few sections of the work. In between the verses as well as the choruses, the band includes small instrumental transitional periods that help to keep the overall musical sound rounder, in terms of musical symmetry. The percussion section relies heavily on the steady beat through each cymbal crash, this helps to create a static groove that remains the same throughout the entire work.

“Rise Up” starts with the ending of the previous work and pushes the band’s heavier sound early on. After the band reintroduces their heavy sound, they quickly fall back into their alternative genre driven sound to smooth through the first verse and chorus. Even though the vocal line falls back into this softer technique, the instrumental section continues to play with more weighted tension, which helps to keep that heavier feel, even if it’s only slightly apparent. Throughout the song, the band includes the small transitional segments as they did in previous tracks on the album; however, in these instances is where the band includes their heavier sound. This is strong for the band, for they are providing their audience with their older sound, which they have come to know and love: even if it is in brief snippets.

“When the Lights Come On” starts with a rapid ascending line in the instrumental section accompanied by clean, lyrical vocals. The band establishes a steady groove soon after that, which is driven by the allusion of clapping as well as heavy, low beats in the percussion section. As the selection moves forward, the band toys with harsher vocals paired with a halftime feel in the instrumental section to add variety and color to the work, which will help to keep their audience engaged. This song sounds ornate to the listener because it mixes a strong heavy rock sound as well as a generic pop sound, which is driven through the use of repetitive electronics. This combination serves to interest the audience and provide them with something innovative and new. This is effective for the band, for it shows what else they are musically capable of; however, this is also a step further from their original sound, and old fans may not care for that shift of musical experimentation.

“Under Denver” starts with a small piano feature that quickly leads to the entire instrumental ensemble entering in afterwards: their content being based off the motive that the piano introduced. The band continues to keep a relaxed undertone to the work throughout, and they provide gentle vocals throughout to enhance just that. Even though this selection has a more solemn vibe to it, the band creates a groove that keeps the work moving forward to help keep the audience interested. This selection will likely be the acting ballad of the album, which adds variety to the already diverse album that the band has provided to their audience. This is a foreseen favorite of the album because it sounds overly pleasing to the ear, and it is something completely new for the band.

“Vultures” starts with an instrumental feature that is led by an acoustic guitar motive. After the motive is well established, the vocals enter for the first time with a rustic vibe to them. Once the vocals settle in, the percussion section enters with a faint beat that helps to make the piece more symmetrical. The contour of the vocal line rises and falls in a balance manner, which adds a nice effect to the overall selection. This song pulls influence from several different genres to form an lavish sound, which will keep the audience locked into it. Although this piece is also mellow, it provides the audience with a completely different style than everything previously stated on the album, and that is strong in showing the band’s overall musicianship and growth.

“Eve” starts with a group of single semi-tones that fade in and out within one another that slowly morph together to create a small electronic motive that quickly shift to a heavy instrumental riff. Once the riff has a second to resonate with the audience, the band comes in swinging with vocals that match in intensity to drive through the first verse of the work. As the band falls into the chorus of the work, they fall back to the smoother vocals that have been characteristic of the album; however, the second verse grows back to the more aggressive route, vocally speaking. The band shifts within their tempo and timing to add musical variety to the selection, which helps to drive the song forward. Towards the end of the work, the band drops down in instrumentation, and they slowly build back to the same vibe of the chorus of the work in small increments, and once that original vibe is met, that pushes until the end of the selection.

 “I Am One” starts with an upbeat instrumental interlude that sets the groove from the first downbeat of the work. When the vocals enter for the first time, the instrumentation drops, so that the split vocals can shine. The vocalist shifts between three different vocal techniques throughout the song: clean, aggressive, and a spoken-word technique. The contrast of vocals is effective to the audience because it relates to the fluctuation of instrumental material that is being provided at the same time of the vocal shifts. As the song pushes forward, it is heard that this is one of the heavier selections on the album, which will help to make this a fan favorite of the album.

 “Empire” features Bingx and starts with a small guitar motive that is soon joined in by the featured artist. The style that is introduced through the featured artist is music that falls into the hip hop and rap genre of music. The band vocals that enter are drive by a clean melodic line with a simple vocal contour, which produces a pleasing product for the audience. The instrumental section provides little for this work, for a lot of the material presented are driven by electronics mixed with a faint guitar motive and a steady beat provided by the percussion section. The work, again, shows the audience what else the band can offer, but this song will likely be criticized for how stereotypical it sounds, and how far it is from the band’s characteristic sound.

 “Room 138” starts with a musical interlude that sounds like the introduction to a pop song. After this brief interlude, the instrumental section includes a rapid motive in the percussion section that falls into the groove of the work. The vocals slowly shift from the clear technique to the aggressive technique. The instrumental section switches to accommodate the melodic material that is introduced in the vocal section. The band often toys with the adding and subtracting of instrumentation throughout this selection to allow certain vocal lines to shine. This technique leads to the minimal use of instrumentation towards the end of the song to allow the gentle vocal line to take the lead. That vocal line transitions smoothly to the aggressive vocals that reestablish the groove from the beginning of the work. This is a strong final song for the album, for it shows the audience their new and older sound, and it is musically intricate, which will help to keep the audience interested to the very end.

 Final Thoughts: Overall, I would give this album a 3.5 out of 5 stars. I am giving this album such a score because the band shows that they aren’t afraid to take risks. There is more genre and musical variety on this album than any other album that has been released this year. However, I feel like the band lost some of their characteristic charm and worth through trying to provide too much (diverse) musical material to their audience. Furthermore, if you are a fan of the spectrum of musical genres, this is the album for you!

*”Asking Alexandria” was released on December 15, 2017 through Sumerian Records.

 

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