‘The Black’ is that album you so desperately wanted to hate. Nevertheless, the new evolution of Asking Alexandria is simply the polar opposite of such expectations.
Of course, the odd sour reference to ex-frontman Danny Worsnop remains intact, that was to be expected. Laying those offending soundbites aside, however, ‘The Black’ is without doubt an Asking Alexandria record from beginning to end – versatile, chopsy and contagious.
Providing instant proof that new frontman Denis Stoff has slotted seamlessly into the line-up, ‘Let It Sleep’ bursts with beautiful highs and devastating lows, moving the outfit onwards and upwards to a more polished guise. From the tricksy leading line of the title track to the lingering ‘I Won’t Give In,’ each second arrives packed with their trademark gorgeous intensity, while ‘The Lost Souls’ oozes the symphonic solidarity that their divided fanbase so gravely needed.
However, ‘Sometimes It Ends’ opens with a bitter interview segment explaining how Denis had to persuade the band to move on from Danny, while ‘Just A Slave To Rock ‘n’ Roll’ closes with the ironic exclamation, “I need a fucking drink.” Such resent could possibly have slipped under the radar had it not happened twice on the same album.
The tear-jerking ‘Send Me Home’ hits phenomenal heartfelt high notes and voices a beautiful anguish, while its polar opposite ‘Undivided’ distributes contagious “fuck off” chants to re-establish their boisterous charm and signature organised chaos. This commanding versatility comes naturally to them, and Denis emerges so flawlessly as if he were always there.
‘The Black’ could well have been a premature swansong for a band that play their cards astoundingly well. This transition was always going to weigh heavy on their dedicated crowds, but if this first Denis record is anything to go by, that shouldn’t take long.
’The Black’ by Asking Alexandria is out on March 25th on Sumerian Records.
Words by Ali Cooper (@AliZombie_)