Asking Alexandria

Reckless and Relentless

01. Welcome
02. Dear Insanity
03. Closure
04. A Lesson Never Learned
05. To The Stage
06. Dedication
07. Someone, Somewhere
08. Breathless
09.The Match
10. Another Bottle Down
11. Reckless & Relentless
12. Morte et Dabo

[04/05/11]
[Sumerian Records]

It’s rough out there being an Asking Alexandria fan.  While I surely think they are better than their contemporaries (think Attack Attack!), it’s surely not something I prefer to listen to.  Their previous album Stand Up and Scream was a boring, uneventful chugfest with most of the music either being horrendously stereotypical generic breakdowns or cheesy below average techno. Given the fact that they are signed to Sumerian Records, a record company with a blemish-free line-up of quality bands (sans this band and I See Stars), you wonder why they are even signed to Sumerian in the first place when listening to their previous record.  Does this record show any sort of justification of them being signed, or is it more of the same tired equation?

Shockingly, upon first listen, you hear a noticeably more mature band musically.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s still average metalcore at best, but it’s a huge improvement from the horrid Stand Up and Scream.   The album opens with a ambient keyboard synth that sounds, to be honest, very cool.  Actually, before the band kicks in, it’s sounding like a poor man’s Born of Osiris, which is good, because Born of Osiris are rich with talent.  The band kicks in, and even though it’s a typical breakdown, it’s absolutely massive sounding.

The opening track leads into “Dear Insanity“, and it too shows a more mature band.  They aren’t relying on the breakdown too much from these two tracks (Combined, these two songs have three breakdowns, while the first two tracks on the previous album have six, with four on the second track alone), and they are actually having some melody. So far, so good.

However, things start to devolve with “Closure,” and they start back to their old ways: by starting their songs with a goddamn breakdown, one of my pet peeves.   However, after the breakdown, the song gets noticeably better, with vocalist Danny Worsnop hitting a massively high note that I never thought he could hit, especially with his self-damaging ways.  It resorts to a techno break, but it isn’t too offensive as previous techno breaks.  Hell, it’s welcome compared to Attack Attack!’s techno breaks.

Speaking of Danny, I know he is immature, a pretty bad songwriter, an alcoholic, and a drug-user, but to be honest, when he isn’t getting wasted on stage, he’s a damn good vocalist.  I think it’s awesome that he doesn’t use autotune, especially with this type of music.  He can hit some really high NOTES, like in the aforementioned “Closure“and “A Lesson Never Learned“, and he can plunge some dark depths with his harsh vocals, like in “Breathless“.  If he could kick his habits, who knows what he could accomplish.

It all starts to blend together after “Closure” until the track “Dedication“, which is basically Danny giving a monologue while some infinitely cheesy music is playing in the background.  While the music brings the cheese, it’s actually somewhat inspiring, and there is some noticeable emotion in Danny’s voice, which saves it from the filler category, like most of the album.  After this, the track “Someone, Somewhere” comes from the farthest reaches of left field.  It’s a ballad-esque track with all clean vocals and a guitar solo; a new concept for Asking Alexandria.  It’s not technical, but it’s full of emotion and works well.  And the best part? A lack of pure breakdowns.  This track, along with the opener and the closer, are the ones that stick to me the most after listening.

The rest of the album is more of the same tired thing they wore out in the first few songs, sans the ones I mentioned until “Morte Et Dabo”.  For the most part, this song is amazing.  Even the middle breakdown is infectious because of Danny’s fabulous delivery of the vocals.  That track just stands out to me because it shows that Asking Alexandria possess plenty of potential.  However, they have yet to tap into it.  The song, and album, closes with a rather epic orchestral part that contrasts well with the album.

Production-wise, this album is top-notch.  Everything can be heard with clarity.  This album just sounds huge, especially with the orchestral parts.  However, great production, a few spectacular choruses, and a few really good songs cannot overcome the rather monotonous musical aspect to this album.  If they dropped about 10 or 15 breakdowns, removed a gratuitous portion of the word ‘fuck’, and make the album sound less generic, this would be an above average album.  However, the aforementioned critiques hold back the album from notoriety.  But think of Asking Alexandria like Bring Me The Horizon.  Last year’s Hell/Heaven was a very good record, in my opinion, and saved them from being the shitty deathcore band that they were.  Asking Alexandria have made strides, though not as drastic as BMTH, to becoming a respectable band.  Perhaps a couple of more releases, and they will be on the path to becoming a great band.

Asking Alexandria – Reckless and Relentless gets:

2.5/5

P.S – My take on the Asking Alexandria’s Seattle debacle:  I have gained so much respect for Asking Alexandria because of this.  The way the band handle Danny fucking up was very admirable.  And I truly believe Danny’s apology to be sincere.  I’m still not a fan of the band, but I’m a fan of them as people.  You have my respect.  Now make a better record, why don’t ya?

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