Hard rock heavy weights, Asking Alexandria, have set and maintained an exceptionally high bar for themselves. It’s extremely disheartening to admit that their new record, See What’s On The Inside (Better Noise), falls slightly short of their usual standard. To be clear, there are very few bands that can achieve AA’s technical prowess. Critically, the record ticks a lot of boxes it’s supposed to. If this had come from a band like Buckcherry or Shinedown, it’d be a great release. The very problem is that this doesn’t sound like an Asking Alexandria album; It’s completely devoid of the biting, soul-exposed, gritty back-alley-of-a-rundown-city sound that made the band who they are.
The sole single, “Alone Again,” had perfectly captured that very personality. The “Intro” track tacked on displays the band’s exceptional understanding of showmanship. When you’re waiting in the crowd, the lights go down, and you hear that intro start trickling through the speakers, there’s nothing quite like that feeling. Again and again, AA has nailed live presentation when it comes to writing music, and this record thankfully is no different in those regards.
Upon hearing the opening partnered tracks, it seems this album was set to be an appropriate successor to their previous two records, but unfortunately only set a tone that wasn’t followed up. From the midlife domestics of “Misery Loves Company” to the high school platitudes of “You’ve Made It This Far,” See What’s On The Inside is dangerously teetering into alleged sellouts territory. “The Fame” seriously sounds like someone put Nickelback’s “Rockstar” through a cynics filter. With that said, cliches aren’t always bad, and “Find Myself” is a great example of that. A suicidal ballad is nothing new—Hell, it could be an entire genre of it’s own—but this track was handled with great care. The lyrics of “Find Myself” harkens back to an earlier era of AA, while the music helps transition in a newer sound.
Since 2017, AA has received complaints from old-school fans over the softening of their sound. Though it’s true this album is a long stretch from their metalcore days, it is a solid release. Despite aforementioned criticisms, when you get to the end of this article, don’t be surprised to find a high score. Asking Alexandria has mastered a skill that very, very few have; Finding balance between commercialization and genuinity.
Notably, the change in sound was accompanied by a change in labels. After seven albums and over a decade, AA parted ways with Sumerian Records in favor of Better Noise Music. Given the sheer talent composing their lineup and the positive reception this record has already received from fans hours after release, it’s safe to assume the genre shift will only elevate their careers, likely setting them on an Opeth-esque trajectory.
The closing track, “The Grey,” is presumably a reference to their bastardized album, The Black. Unintentionally, it stands as more than an end of the album, but the beginning of a new era detached from the old days of cocaine-fueled debauchery. As a long time fan of AA, it’s been a pleasure to see them continue to evolve and develop a musical legacy. What started out as your typical post-hardcore Warped Tour band has grown into an act capable of comfortably sliding into the mainstream charts. With the release of See What’s On The Inside, they have opened the doors to a much wider audience and partnerships. Change from your favorite artist can suck. There’s no denying that, but it’s important to recognize this: Anytime metal is able to touch heights usually denied to us, that’s a win for the artists and the fans alike.
Buy the album here: https://askingalexandria.ffm.to/swoti
7 / 10