Asking Alexandria’s Ben Bruce: 10 albums that changed my life

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Asking Alexandria have been one of the most successful – and divisive – metal bands of the last decade. Since tearing out of Yorkshire in 2009 with their angsty metalcore debut, Stand Up And Scream, they’ve evolved from snotty hellraisers into polished princes of arena rock. Guitarist Ben Bruce tells us about the albums that have inspired him to follow his own path in life

Avenged Sevenfold - Waking the Fallen (2003)

My mum drove me to Milton Keynes shopping centre to buy it, I put it in my Discman and listened to it the whole journey home. It was the first album that I could listen to from start to finish and I was in love with the entire record. We’re pretty good friends with the Avenged Sevenfold guys now and all the similarities that can be seen between Avenged and Asking are so funny – not stylistically, but in terms of the steps we’ve taken in our career. They were talking to us about when they released their [2007] self-titled album, and how much it upset people that didn’t understand it. It took time for people to realise what the album was and appreciate it, and I feel Asking has had that same battle.

Slipknot – Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses (2004)

The self-titled and Iowa albums are obviously spectacular, but Vol. 3: Subliminal Verses was the first time I noticed Slipknot really pushing the boat. They took more of a melodic path with that record. As I’ve grown older, I feel I understand even more the progressions Slipknot have made in their career. Songs like The Nameless and Vermillion were interesting songs, they were so dark and heavy but not as obviously heavy as Iowa. They didn’t need to feel like they were pounding your face in with a brick for it to be heavy.

Killswitch Engage – The End of Heartache (2004)

When I found out that Jesse left Killswitch Engage in 2002, I was like, ‘Ok, I don’t know that I’m going to be able to back this band now’. I was a kid, I was young, I was stupid. Then I heard When Darkness Falls, it was on the Freddy Vs Jason soundtrack. Then Rose Of Sharyn came out and I was like, ‘This guy’s won me over’. There was so much more melody. The edges were softer and rounder, but the songwriting was so good and the choruses were some of the biggest I’d heard across metalcore at that point.

The first Blink-182 record I got was Enema Of The State. Then I worked my way backwards and went to Dude Ranch, Buddha and Cheshire Cat and loved them. Enema Of The State was so good, but it got overplayed for me. By the time Take Off Your Pants And Jacket came out, I was a little older. I was listening to a lot more metal and I was more of a pissed off, angsty teenager. Story Of A Lonely Guy spoke to me. My parents were going through a divorce at that point so Stay Together For The Kids was my anthem. It came at the right time.

Metallica – Metallica (1991)

It’s so funny that people get so up in arms about a band growing and exploring new sounds. The Black Album sounded sonically different to anything I was listening to then and those songs were so good. If Metallica hadn’t made The Black Album, I don’t think metal or rock would ever have got as big as it is now. They brought metal into the mainstream. You can ask anyone’s grandma if they’ve heard of Metallica and they have. It’s spreading the cause and the rock and metal family to other corners of the globe.

The Beatles – The Beatles (1968)

Being attached to one genre is not a thing for me. I listened to this record and was like, ‘Wow. There is no genre on this album.’ There’s the first introduction to metal on here, Helter Skelter. There’s songs like Oba-La-Di, Ob-La-Da. Then there’s Blackbird, which is dark and moody, and Rocky Raccoon which is off-the-wall bizarre. It gets frustrating for me that these days, for the most part, people will pigeon-hole an artist. If you go back and listen to this, The Beatles didn’t have that. I don’t know if it was that they truly didn’t give a fuck or if people were different back then. They did whatever they wanted. It didn’t matter how strange, what genre or what the message was. That’s super inspiring to me.

Oasis – (What’s The Story) Morning Glory? (1995)

The songwriting is spectacular. I still think the Gallagher brothers, even separately, just write good songs. That album had some great fucking songs on it. Britain is so good at rock music. There are so many bands who have put us on the map and I think Oasis are one of those bands too.

Asking Alexandria - Like A House on Fire (2020)

How could I leave my own band off the list? Especially this new album. It’s the first record I’ve ever written with Asking Alexandria clean of drugs. However people take the record, to me it’ll always be a very significant moment in my life. I was worried that because I wasn’t on drugs, and I wasn’t fucked up, that I wouldn’t be able to write music. What if that’s my superpower and the drugs are my muse? So when I went in and wrote sober for the first time, it was liberating. The hardest part for me was my own inner voice, still wondering, would things be easier if I just called that number in my phone? But I didn’t and I’m glad I didn’t.

Elton John - Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (1973)

I love Elton John. He writes fantastic songs. People think Elton John as this glitzy guy who writes love ballads, but he also writes amazing rock and roll songs. Like Saturday Night’s Alright (For Fighting) and even Bennie And The Jets. He’s a rock ‘n roll star too. I got to see him play live and he played for four hours and I didn’t get bored. I was glued. You know how you binge watch a tv show and you’re tired, but the next episode comes on and you’re like, ‘Ok just one more’? Before you know it, you’ve watched 10 episodes and eaten a tub of ice cream. That was Elton John live for me.

Eric Clapton and BB King – Riding with the King (2000)

Most of my favourite guitarists are blues guitarists. My dad introduced me a lot of blues and this album is two of my favourite artists on one album. My dad is a blues player. He can pick up a blues harp and improvise for hours. We’d be at restaurants when I was a kid, we used to go to the Hard Rock Cafe a lot, and there’d be a live band. He’d always get up and play with them. He’d have a blues harp in his pocket and be able to jam. Even now to this day, I’d never have the confidence to do that. I want to do an album with my dad. I just have to find the time to write it. The Bruces sing the blues!

Asking Alexandria’s new album Like A House On Fire is out on May 15

Dannii Leivers

Danniii Leivers writes for Classic Rock, Metal Hammer, Prog, The Guardian, NME, Alternative Press, Rock Sound, The Line Of Best Fit and more. She loves the 90s, and is happy where the sea is bluest.