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Asking Alexandria live review – Koko, London

York’s metalcore kings Asking Alexandria still bring their A game without Ben, live in London

Since 5.30 this morning an excited queue has been snaking around Koko and up Camden High Street. Tonight is the second of two intimate warmup shows for Asking Alexandria before Reading and Leeds festivals and inside, bodies are crammed into every available space. With the crowd chanting their name before the lights go down, it’s pretty impossible for SHVPES [8] to fail.

Their debut PAIN. JOY. ECSTASY. DESPAIR is about to drop and, aware that this show is a massive opportunity, the Birmingham-based rap metallers grab it wholeheartedly. Frontman Griffin Dickinson is an energetic blur and the crowd react enthusiastically to their Letlive-meets-Northlane nu metalcore, not least for the anthemic God Warrior.

ASKING ALEXANDRIA [8] guitarist Ben Bruce is sitting out this short run of European dates due to the imminent birth of his baby daughter, but even with a man down, AA are on fire. Watching them nail this moment from start to finish it’s easy to forget the turmoil they’ve survived over the last year and half.

From the very public departure of former frontman Danny Worsnop, to introducing new vocalist Denis Stoff and recording The Black, the album of their career, the band have undergone a mammoth emotional journey. To see them pull off a performance this tight, kicking off with a pertinently triumphant I Won’t Give In is something else. And while it’s weird to see the band without Ben, their founder and captain, they’re far from leaderless. Polished, confident and adored by this partisan crowd, Denis has taken to fronting AA like a duck to water. Vocally, he unleashes a powerhouse range of paint-stripping shrieks, barks and immaculate clean vocals, all while exuding a gleaming professionalism. Those are words we haven’t always associated with these hard-partying hedonists, yet far from relinquishing their dirty edges, AA sound more focused and rejuvenated than ever. Metallic, electronica-splattered anthems Run Free, The Death Of Me and Breathless hit with sledgehammer force, newer tracks The Black and Let It Sleep fill every inch of Koko’s vertiginous space, and when the crowd bellow the ‘OH MY GOD’ opening of Final Episode, it threatens to bring the whole building down. Seven years into their career and it feels like Asking Alexandria are just getting started.