LOUDER REVIEWS: Asking Alexandria - Like A House On Fire
There’s a lot riding on a band that has only gone from strength to strength in their releases, especially as one of the few bands that are releasing albums during the lockdown. They could either continue their winning streak and deliver some great tunes for people to enjoy, or they can massively disappoint. This is something that happened with bands like Fall Out Boy and their album, MANIA; whilst it was a success commercially for the band, there were tons of negative criticism about the change of sound and style. Asking Alexandria has had success in recent years with previous albums like The Black in 2016 and their self-titled in 2017. In fact, they owned the 2010s with their album releases throughout that decade. Now, in this new decade, how does their sixth album, Like A House On Fire, hold up to the rest of their legendary discography?
After one listen...oh...oh no...not at all. Like with MANIA, it seems like Asking Alexandria took every bad decision for this album - they probably looked at that album as a blueprint! From the first seconds into the first track, “House on Fire”, everything just sounds wrong, from the instrumentation to the mixing, and the lyrics to boot! Let’s tackle one problem one by one; firstly the production sounds like they wanted to mix every single instrument at the same level, and it feels like a congealed mush of bleeps and bloops, like a robot vomited over the GarageBand setup and in doing so, messed with the levels of all the tracks so that everything and nothing can be heard at the same time. Speaking of instruments, when they are heard, it’s oddly the most generic and milquetoast “radio rock” sound, which is surprising coming from a band that have constantly tried to push the boundaries of the metal genre. On top of that, what they do with those instruments isn’t unique either, as it all sounds like rejected music from both Fall Out Boy and Five Finger Death Punch, just the blandest sound to resemble rock with added electronic effects that do nothing to add depth or richness to the music. This, from the same band behind Stand Up And Scream and Reckless & Relentless.
This album is meant to represent a middle finger to those who want the band to “prove themselves”, as they themselves put it - they try and show that they can make it how they want to, do what they want, and not care what anyone else thinks...are they sure about that? It’s much more impressive for Asking Alexandria to just show what they can do instead of talking about it. It’s certainly more believable! “All Due Respect”, “One Turns To None”, and “What’s Gonna Be” are a perfect example of this kind of faux-toughness in their lyric writing. In fact, “One Turns To None” could easily be mistaken for “Next Contestant” by Nickelback in terms of theming! Speaking of Nickelback levels of writing, “Down To Hell”. The chorus reads “I’m coming up, I’m going down to hell”. Which is it? Are you going up or down? Is it both and neither like Schrodinger’s Cat? Or are they hovering in a solid space whilst the members are constantly spinning around?
Bands change and evolve, it’s only natural for them to do so. Hell, Asking Alexandria have already seen their fair share of evolution, with both From Death To Destiny and their eponymous album serving as musical progression done write. But the huge point with those albums was that each of those incarnations was something consistent; they sounded like Asking Alexandria albums. Play one and people could recognise their sound as that band in particular. But with Like A House On Fire, that unique quality about them has vanished and has since been replaced with a desire to pander to the trending styles of pop-rock, and to become a popular band. Sure, they’ve amassed a huge fanbase so far, but that was due to the quality of the previous albums and how it related to each person which in turn made them a fan. With this, the fake tough-guy act with confusing instrumentation is more likely to put off long-time fans and confuse any newcomers to the band. Change is always necessary, but that change has to make sense. Like A House On Fire is exactly what it says on the tin; it’s uncomfortable to stay in, and all the memorable qualities inside have burnt up into ash and disappeared in the smoke.
Like A House On Fire is out 15th May