There was a lot riding on Asking Alexandria’s previous two albums. 2016’s The Black introduced interim frontman Denis Stoff and proved the metalcore mob could survive without ex-frontman Danny Worsnop. Then just over a year later, 2017’s polarising self-titled album marked Danny’s return to the fold, presenting a band reasserting and reinventing themselves in the wake of years of upheaval, with a polished, stadium-ready sound that made their mainstream intentions clear. As a result, Like A House On Fire feels even more consequential, the defining moment where many Asking Alexandria fans will either decide if they’re still onboard or to abandon ship for good.
Anyone hoping for a return to heavier climes is going to be disappointed. On the Yorkshire quintet’s sixth album, they’ve edged even further into pop-rock. They Don’t Want What We Want (And They Don’t Care) and Down To Hell aim unashamedly for the ground currently occupied by Fall Out Boy, with fat, sleazy grooves and excellent gang-chant choruses. Antisocialist and Take Some Time are similarly bombastic and tailor-made for huge stages, while The Violence – the only track that harks back to the band’s early snarling swagger – has Danny screaming over biting guitars. This is an album that will probably work best live and these are the tracks on which Asking Alexandria will undoubtedly build their future.
At 15 tracks, though, Like A House On Fire is a long record and the band could have done with exerting some editorial control. All Due Respect and Give You Up feel hollow and pedestrian compared to what we’ve seen from them before, and despite closer Lorazepam’s undeniable immediacy, it feels generic with prosaic musicianship that doesn’t showcase the best of anyone’s talents. Asking Alexandria have committed admirably to their new incarnation, but too much of Like A House On Fire doesn’t quite nail the big finale.
Asking Alexandria’s Like A House On Fire is out on May 15