After a very brief period of identity crisis and vocalist turmoil, the members of Asking Alexandria reintroduced themselves with prodigal frontman Danny Worsnop on the band's fifth full-length, Asking Alexandria. Produced by Matt Good (From First To Last), this eponymous return is the group's most polished effort to date, less raw and muscular than past albums. While this evolution might prove divisive to longtime fans, Asking Alexandria remains highly enjoyable, a triumphant offering that benefits as much from familiarity as it does from pure power and Worsnop's inimitable presence. Kicking off with a strong opening run of powerful anthems, Asking Alexandria wastes little time getting back into the groove with Worsnop. The urgent "Alone In A Room" highlights some new vocal directions -- perhaps inspired by Worsnop's work during his time away from the band -- which incorporate more '80s arena-rock singing than '00s metalcore screaming. Meanwhile on "Into the Fire" (co-produced by Korn's Jonathan Davis), the band reminds listeners that they can still pummel with a brutal grace, combining soaring gang choruses with Worsnop's blood-curdling bellows. "Eve" is the closest they come to old-fashioned viciousness, an epic explosion of demonic wails and chugging riffs. Yet, even through that brutality, Worsnop's vocal warmth on the chorus elevates the track to an arena-worthy singalong. Of the potentially contentious inclusions, "Hopelessly Hopeful" and "Rise Up" feature programming flourish one might find in a Top 40 pop song, reaching a peak on "When The Lights Come On," which could easily be mistaken for the heaviest Fall Out Boy song yet-to-be-written. Despite this mainstream sheen, these songs hit as hard as anything in their catalog; the true winner for most jarring moment comes with "Empire." Featuring Seattle rapper Bingx, this misstep completely pulls listeners from the flow of the album. On any other record, "Empire" could be passable, like an unholy alliance of Machine Gun Kelly teaming up with All Time Low. However, inserted at the close of an album that has made a point of throttling listeners with its might, it's an unwelcome and unexpected shift in tone that would have been better as a b-side or inclusion on a soundtrack of mash-up tunes. Overall, Asking Alexandria is a worthy return from the classic lineup, retaining the best aspects of its past and taking steps into its future. Regardless of a stumble or two, Asking Alexandria is well worth a listen. While The Black was a passable offering at a time when it seemed like it would be a permanent arrangement, this reunion simply feels right.
AllMusic Review by Neil Z. Yeung