Published May 13, 2020Asking Alexandria might be the most divisive band in modern metal. They inspired a generation of Hot Topic-wearing teens with Stand Up and Scream in 2009, and their fanbase in famously intense. But metal's older ranks have sneered at them from the beginning, with their dubstep remixes, fringe haircuts, MySpace aesthetic and unapologetically emo lyrics.
But all that changed in 2017 when frontman Danny Worsnop returned, fresh off his stint with We Are Harlot. Despite his return, Asking Alexandria wasn't the same: their self-titled 2017 album dropped angst and replaced it with gigantic riffs, big production and a sound between the Killers and Bring Me the Horizon. Like a House on Fire follows in a similar vein — except this time, the pop is dialled to twelve. Asking Alexandria have always flirted with the idea of being a mainstream stadium band, but they've finally made an album that can put their unenviable past to bed.
The title track "House on Fire" features those autotuned vocals that made Asking Alexandria so rejected by their metal peers. Its followup, "They Don't Want What We Want," is one of the best songs the band have ever written, featuring a Korn-esque hook, tasteful strings and a chorus big enough to blow your hair back. It's both heavier and poppier than before, and it sounds great. Look for this one on every metal radio station, coming soon.
"Antisocialist," "I Don't Need You" and "All Due Respect" are straight-up pop tracks, and it's here that Like a House on Fire takes its first turn. AA might be the poppiest metal band around, but three songs that sound like Top 40 hits is a bit much. When the riffs do come back on "One Turns to None" it's a welcome switch. "The Violence" hits the balance just right, making it another album highlight.
Like a House on Fire won't win over the haters, but it is a massive improvement over anything Asking Alexandria have done before. The bar wasn't high, but credit where credit is due. (Sumerian)