Asking Alexandria’s Self-Titled album not only marked the return of their original vocalist Danny Worsnop but also a slight deviation in sound. The band toned things down a bit from their rowdy metalcore days to a more straightforward hard rock album. It was something that was certainly above average and managed to punch pretty hard but it was a divisive change in sound and tone. The album felt extremely well polished and cathartic for a band that was previously full of turmoil. Now back in the swing of things the band hands us their latest album called A House On Fire.
Let’s get this out of the way, if you were hoping for an album that was super fast, shreddy, and full of guttural screams like the past this isn’t the album for you. If you, like myself, found their previous album to be a solid alt rock album and enjoyed the change in direction then you’ll be right at home here. Asking Alexandria has always been on the cusp of following bands of the hair metal days, even during their heavier albums there was a layer of cheese that was driven by the bravado of the lyrics and the emphasis on fun guitar riffs. They’ve always been a band that was mostly just having fun. That’s a lot of what we get here with songs like Down To Hell featuring a “na na na” backing chorus. Personally I feel like it doesn’t ruin the songs but it doesn’t really add anything or feel necessary. Regardless it’s a fun and goofy song not meant to be taken seriously.
In the shift in sound there’s a much heavier emphasis on electronic manipulation with modulated bass lines, programmed drums, and vocal fiddling. It’s something that the band has played with but it feels much stronger on this album. Thankfully while it is a strong part of the album it isn’t overpowering and feels more like it compliments the actual vocals and instrumentals rather than drown them out. Songs like Antisocialist, Take Some Time, and Give You Up really demonstrate this usage of electronics. It’s also something that helps make the album a bit more accessible, and while some fans may see it as a detriment to their previously heavier sound, it works here for the most part.
Lyrically the album is a bit weaker in theme than the previous album. There’s a lot of repeated elements and ideas that felt stronger and more heartfelt on the self titled return album. Themes like regaining your place, doing what you want, and redemption are all present but end up feeling more like just a way to drive a song rather than honest ideas. Not to say the band doesn’t believe what they’re singing just that it feels a bit more forced this time around. Thankfully the vocal work just shows that Danny Worsnop is constantly trying to better himself and a lot of the choruses land harder than previous albums.
Asking Alexandria’s sixth studio album Like A House On Fire shows the band has no intentions of looking back. It’s a hard push in the direction of alt/hard rock and while it might alienate some fans (especially those from their beginning) they have a definite hold on the sound they want to put out. It’s an accessible, at times goofy, rock album that doesn’t hit the fairly high bar set by their previous work but still manages to be something enjoyable to sit back and listen to. It won’t set the world on fire but it’s not a bad way to spend 52 minutes.