TVD Live Shots: Asking Alexandria at the O2 Brixton Academy, 1/27

It blows my mind to see the differences in popularity for a band from the UK and the US. How can one audience be so different? How can a record label not figure out the right strategy or differentiate one? Why is the band on one label in the states but another overseas? I don’t get it and probably never will, but I will tell you as a global marketer myself I don’t see that big of a difference in the crowds at the shows in the UK versus the US, and vice versa. Asking Alexandria is one of these bands, but maybe their latest record will finally bridge the gap between two all-important metal nations.

I was a bit late to the Asking Alexandria party as the first time I came across these guys was while I was photographing the red carpet at the 2016 Metal Hammer Golden God awards. They walked in and played the rock star part better than any of their counterparts, even seasoned vets such as Anthrax and Megadeth’s Dave Mustaine. But there were only three of them that night to accept the award for Best UK Band. I would later figure out (I had moved to the UK the week before) that the band had recently parted ways with their original singer and were on a path to reinventing themselves with a new singer and new album that had just been released to stellar reviews across the board.

I’ve come to dig these guys over the past couple of years as they seem to have something that the other bands in their class didn’t: substance. Asking Alexandria might have started off in the metalcore/emo whatever category but they continue to evolve. I loved their last album The Black. I thought it was brilliant. It reminded me of the time when Eighteen Visions released their self-titled record back in 2006 on Epic Records where I worked at the time. One of the promo reps from Epic called it a “heavy modern-day Def Leppard Hysteria” and I agreed. Too bad the entire rest of the world disagreed, but who fucking cares. I loved that record and still do. The Black was Asking Alexandria evolving. New singer, new(ish) sound, new direction, and all things looked to be on the way up.

Then before I could see the band tour in support of The Black, they had a falling out with new singer Denis Stoff, and a very public, ugly one at that. This would set the stage for the return of original frontman Danny Worsnop back into the fold. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s usually 100% a good thing when a band brings back their original frontman for one reason or another. History will tell us that the original frontman won’t touch any of these songs for a live show and that seems to be the case moving forward. So be it.

The show at the legendary Brixton Academy was beyond sold out. I still pinch myself every time I get to see a show in the same venue where my favorite live album of all time (Faith No More – You Fat Bastards) was recorded. Asking Alexandria was one of two headliners that evening, the other being Black Veil Brides for which I didn’t have the approval to photograph (that’s another story).

The first thing you notice is that these guys are fucking heavy. But not in a one-dimensional, metalcore kind of way that would let them dissolve slowly into their counterparts. Over the past few records AA has come into their own in terms of a true signature sound. There’s something extra that they add to their choruses that I can’t quite figure out what it is, but it adds another layer of complexity to the dual guitar attack. It’s also something that they don’t overdo which adds to the appeal and keeps the songs fresh.

While I think the new album is great, I do feel that The Black never got a chance to be the record that broke the band in the states. I mean they are fucking huge here in the UK, and there’s no reason why they should play venues less than half the size of the gigs they play here in the UK. Someone’s got to figure this out. With that said, Asking Alexandria heads back to the states to tour in support of the self-titled rebirth. See this show and judge for yourself.

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