Evolution in metal evokes many responses. Most of them are responses of fear. Fear of change, fear of the unknown. When bands state that their album is a new sound or a departure from the norm, the first thing that comes to mind is Metallica's infamous "St. Anger" album. When Asking Alexandria said that this album was going to be different from anything they had ever recorded before, my nerves and heart immediately leapt to my throat.
From the opening track, "Don't Pray For Me", things sound like what fans of the band come to expect. Heavy dub/techno beats overlaid with crushing, monstrous riffs. The vocals kick in and the familiar growl of Danny Worsnop fills my ears. As the song progresses, the riffs minimize a little and the techno amps back up. The vocals are a mix of clean and death and the song somewhat bottoms out. It ends with a riff that feels out of place and should have been throughout the song rather than placed at the end. This is the theme of the album.
For the remainder, the vocals are majorly clean, reminiscent of Avenged Sevenfold's M. Shadows. The dance beats are a constant throughout as part of the bands formula, but sadly absent are the crushing, groove-filled riffs that have dominated the prior two releases. After multiple listens, I was left wanting a little more and feeling as though the album I had listened to wasn't the album I was hoping for. Longtime fans of AA will no doubt be puzzled at the new sound while new fans may enjoy the album altogether.
However, for this reviewer I feel that the album was missing some of the heart and heaviness that had endeared this band to me for a good while. Hopefully the next album will be a similar return to form but if they continue to go in the direction they are headed, the next album could possibly be the album where it clicks in my head. Until then though, I'll set this one on the shelf for a revisit later and see if maybe I have a better appreciation for the album after some time away.
About this Writer: Greg Watson // Greg Watson has been hooked on the loud and heavy sounds since the summer of 1994 when he first heard the opening notes of "Operation: Mindcrime" by Queensryche. Since then his tastes have expanded and grown like the ever evolving heavy metal tree of genres. He has been an active member of Maximum Metal off and on for 10 years. In his spare time, Greg enjoys deciding the fate of his loyal subjects in the realm of Skyrim and secretly playing air keyboard to "Separate Ways" by Journey when no one is watching. He currently resides in Roanoke, VA with his wife and his metal wannabe beagle.
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