This one may come at a shock to those who don’t know me, but I’ve been a huge fan of Asking Alexandria since I was 15. I basically grew up listening to Metallica, Bon Jovi, Nickelback and every other well-known and lesser-known rock band. My first live gig was to see Bon Jovi on their Have a Nice Day tour where, to my delighted surprise, Nickelback were their opening act. I was living the dream!
Anyway, like most teens these days, I had a very turbulent growth into adulthood and was struggling with my own demons. Then I first heard an AA song while waiting for my Music Production class from their album Stand Up and Scream and that was that. My whole musical life had changed. I started listening to their music whenever I felt like, I also, wanted to stand-up and scream! I also found myself listening to them when I felt sad, alone and lost. I then found that their front-man, Danny Warsnop, also had his own demons which explained why their music resonated with me as much as it did. Then, in 2015, Warsnop left the band to pursue other projects and go through rehab… I was gutted!
But in 2016, Danny Warsnop returned to AA (Ben Bruce, Sam Bettley and James Cassells) and a year later, came out with their self-titled album which remains one of my favourite to this day.
We start the album with Alone in a Room, which is an epic tune! The main focus in this song is, by far, the lyrics and the great production that was put into this. It really shows how far Danny Warsnop has come since their early work with his vocals. And the bands collective writing skills. To me and from what I’ve read, Alone in a Room is bit of a public apology and explanation as to what happened with Warsnop since he departed. And it also feels like a reminder that saying what’s in your mind needs to be aired, even when it’s just you. And sometime, being alone in a room is all that is needed to show you what needs to change.
This song alone couldn’t have come at a better time for me. I was struggling a lot with my physical health that had been spiralling down and out of control, leaving a job I thought I was appreciated in and feeling lost. Since then, I’ve had this song playing at least 20 times a month because it’s the only song that feels like my own story. Another pronounced track for me is Hopelessly Hopeful and anyone who knows me and this song will see the connection!
We’re followed-up with Into the Fire, which feels like it’s the second stage of recovery. After acknowledging the issue, you have to face it, walking into the fire. This is where their amazing rhythmic guitar-skills come out. Seriously, if you’ve ever tried to learn any of their music on guitar or bass, it’s intense! They love changing the tuning octaves giving all their songs a certain edge to them.
Asking Alexandia always have at least one song that doesn’t follow their usual ‘sound’ or typical and expected theme. Under Denver is definitely one that’s an unexpected surprise, but a welcome one! This one packs-on the reverb and the delay to create a mystical feel to the song. It feels like a beautiful melody. in an interview they said that the inspiration behind the track came from Denver airport, where underneath is an entire city built by the government.
“They’ve got gas lines. They’ve got water. There’s everything under the airport. It’s a known thing, but it’s them preparing for the end of days. When you get to the airport there’s this big, horrible force of death. There’s also a thing inside that says ‘Children Of The World, Dream In Peace’ and there’s this picture of all of these children surrounded by soldiers wearing gasmasks and guns. The whole airport is like a big clue that the New World Order is just around the corner and that shit is about to go down. It appears the city is built for the super rich and important people.“
Though it’s meant to feel upbeat and almost cheerful but once you listen to the lyrics, it has a sarcastic feel. They’ve stated that though they drew inspiration from Denver, it is more aimed at everything that’s happening across the globe and all the things going wrong with it.
At the very end of the album, Room 138 really feels like a blast-from-the-past kind of track with their older work. Unknown to most fans, this track is about the room where Warsnop overdosed and, though he didn’t need resusitating, felt like a second life. They’ve said that there are lyrical nods to their past works, the vocal melody being from If Can’t Ride Two Horses At Once… from Stand Up And Scream and the lyrics ‘I never expected to be here alone’ and in this song it’s, ‘I never expected to be here again’.
Basically, this album wasn’t only a major come-back for Danny Warsnop, but for the whole band. It brought them all back into the hearts of their fans and weren’t afraid to confront their troubled pasts in a very public but amazing way, showing the world that it’s okay to talk about them and that you can find a way out of them.