As one of the years most anticipated releases and following former frontman Danny Worsnop’s departure, this album has a lot to say and even more to live up to. After releasing 3 studio albums, each more different than the last, The Black could of gone any way, yet with new addition Denis Stoff it would seem they’ve found their way back to a sound that is arguably most similar to their first release Stand Up and Scream. Their last album From Death to Destiny was noticeably a heavier and rockier album, stepping away from their metalcore roots, this album is a complete U-turn and the third album they so should have made. With Worsnop’s departure to pursue different musical avenues, the bands future was unclear until a savior was found in the form of Stoff who was in a band on the same label as Asking Alexandria (Sumerian Records) and made covers of the bands previous songs. With such a change in line-up that the band had not had before, the release of the new album was eagerly if not apprehensively anticipated. Yet on the back of all this, The Black is undeniably their strongest release to date and shows that Asking Alexandria is still very much a force to be reckoned with.
Let it Sleep opens the album showcasing Stoff’s ability to mix between screams and melodic vocals. Chugging guitars and a chorus meant for thousands to sing-a-long to, this track is AA through and through.
Title track The Black keeps the momentum going with, if possible, just as fantastic a chorus as the last song. Whilst the effects on the vocals in the chorus are something slightly different, the way lyrics “I need to cut you off” are shouted almost indicate how a crowd will be shouting this back at the band at a show.
First single; I Won’t Give In begins with the chorus being shouted alone before dropping the instrumental. A particularly aggressive bridge just begs to incite circle pits, even in a mundane setting you can’t help but head bang along, this is truly AA at their best.
‘Sometimes It Ends’ begins with lead guitarist Ben Bruce’s perspective on how he felt when Worsnop announced his departure from the band. An interesting and insightful way of starting the song, this is a clear indicator of what the song is about. Lyrics such as ‘This hate is relentless” shows how although it’s a new chapter for the band, old wounds will still hurt and as Bruce says at the end things that are currently in his mind will be written about.
Send Me Home takes the album in a far more delicate direction, a series of Woah’s start this track, surely meant for live shows? Another big chorus and exploration of using only clean vocals show proof that AA are able to do more than their typical formula when it comes to making a killer track.
We’ll Be Ok is a triumph for AA, beginning from an angry and aggressive stance, before declaring, “we’ll be ok, we’ll be just fine” when the tempo of the song changes. This song obviously points to the story of recent drama in the band and their new outlook on the future with Stoff.
Here I Am starts off with reverbed guitar notes before the whole band jump into it. This could be seen as one of the more different songs on the album, whilst the chorus is typical AA the rest of the song, originating from the introduction, as it is slightly different to their usual sound.
Next up is the track Gone, this is much mellower song that makes use of a piano and accompanying strings, reminiscent of Dedication from second album Reckless and Relentless. As with Dedication, this track is also sung by Bruce, a switch up from his usual position of accompanying as secondary vocals to the lead. Lyrics such as “please don’t be lonely when I’m gone, I’ve been so sad for far too long” really hit you in the feels and leave a bittersweet aftertaste.
From start to finish this album is melodic hardcore perfection, any doubts about the future of Asking Alexandria is left far behind and in the dust. Tracks guaranteed to make you fall in love with this genre and this band are: The Black, I Won’t Give In and Let It Sleep. Lyrically and musically The Black is current and the perfect start to a new chapter for the band. Asking Alexandria are back and better than ever.