Asking Alexandria

Asking Alexandria header logo

In terms of all my rock genres, I don’t listen much to hardcore genre. I’m quite picky with the few rock bands I do listen to within this sub-genre. I do love heavier sound when it comes to my rock music. Hard rock has a heavier sound. Yet, hardcore takes it to a whole new level in my opinion. Hardcore genre is definitely an acquired taste.

I recently learned “hardcore” is the abbreviation for hardcore punk. This genre is known for its aggressive breakdowns within the music tempo. In my opinion, I find it has an overall louder sound as well. It isn’t uncommon for there to be three guitarists among the band members. Two electric guitarists and one bass guitarist. There is one common element in hardcore. Screamed vocals. Some of my hard rock bands feature sporadic bursts of screaming in their music.  But this particular component way is more prevalent in hardcore genre music. I generally don’t mind screaming in my rock music. But there needs to a balance the clean and unclean vocals. I don’t like listening to music where it is almost entirely screamed vocals. That’s is why I’m quite picky when it comes to hardcore rock bands.

Also, I’ve come to a fascinating realization. I’m no stranger to profanity being in my rock music. I don’t mind. I’ve gotten used to it over the past 12 years. There are levels in terms of profanity. Yet, it seems strong profanity is more common in certain rock sub-genres. Hardcore genre is one of them.

Last summer, I randomly discovered Black Veil Brides thanks to Andy Black’s solo album, The Shadow Side. I would spend the next few months basically hunting down any band interviews with Black Veil Bride members especially with Andy Biersack. The YouTube videos I came across sometimes involved BVB’s interaction with other fellow musicians. Black Veil Brides members are good friends with Asking Alexandria band members. I’d never heard of Asking Alexandria before this point.

I proceeded to check out their music on Spotify. I honestly had no idea what to expect. I was quite surprised to learn their music was metalcore. Regardless of what people say, I considered Black Veil Brides’ music to be within hard rock genre. Metalcore is something entirely different. In fact, hard rock is a smidgen more tame compared metalcore. I typically avoid metal rock genre. The rare exceptions are Nightwish and Within Temptation. Female-fronted symphonic metal bands from Europe. I struggled listening to more than a few Asking Alexandria songs. I didn’t mind the aggressively heavy sound. It was the sustained screaming throughout the song that really put me off. Not my cup of tea at all. I didn’t try to give them another listen until recently.

Asking Alexandria band members[From left to right: Danny, Ben, Cameron, James, and Sam]

Without further ado, I will provide some background information about Asking Alexandria. This rock band from York, England formed in 2008. It consists of five band members. Danny Worsnop is the lead vocalist and occasionally plays the guitar. Ben Bruce is lead electric guitarist and sings back-up vocals. Both Ben and Danny can play the keyboards as well. James Cassells is the drummer. Cameron Liddell switches the role of being rhythm and lead electric guitarist. Sam Bettley is the bass guitarist.

The Resurrection tour was co-headlined by Black Veil Brides and Asking Alexandria with Crown the Empire as the supporting opening band. I always prepare for concerts at least a month in advance. I had listened to Crown the Empire’s music. I surprisingly really enjoyed it. Hardcore isn’t my usual go-to rock sub-genre. I still wasn’t ready to give Asking Alexandria’s music another chance yet. So I focused on listening to only Black Veil Brides and Crown the Empire weeks leading up to the concert on February 9, 2018.

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The day of the concert finally arrived. I was bubbling with exuberant joy. Counting down the hours, I could feel the excitement exponentially growing inside of me. I had no doubt Black Veil Brides would sound incredible live. I’ve come across my fair share of BVB concert videos on YouTube. The thing about hardcore genre music is I don’t know if the band will sound good live in concert. Yet, I was going to approach the performances by Crown the Empire and Asking Alexandria with an open-mind. Rams Head Live is one of my favorite concert venues. It has great acoustics throughout the entire venue regardless if you are on the ground floor or upper levels.

To my surprise, Asking Alexandria sounded amazing live. I don’t typically expect too much vocal range with hardcore or metalcore vocalists. That is not the case with Asking Alexandria’s lead vocalist, Danny Worsnop. I was honestly impressed by Danny’s vocals. There was so much depth to his vocals. It really took me by surprise. He can effortlessly transition from unclean screamed to clean singing vocals. Also, his screaming vocal depth from deep growls to higher falsetto pitch screams. I’d classify the clean singing vocals as baritenor. There are very few baritenors vocalists in the rock genre. I haven’t encountered such a bizarrely fascinating vocal tone since Davey Havok, AFI’s lead singer. That’s saying a lot.

Asking Alexandria logoAfter The Resurrection tour concert, I’d changed my opinion of Asking Alexandria’s music off their newest self-titled album. It is a drastically different from their metalcore sound in previous studio albums. Yet, I can actually embrace this new musical style. Asking Alexandria album has a mixture of post-hardcore and electronica elements. I appreciate it when two unlikely genres can beautifully blend together. Electronica hardcore (aka electronicore) musical style is growing on me.

Electronicore is a fascinating fusion of metalcore and/or hardcore rock genre with electronic genre. Initially, I had very mixed feelings about this combination. But I am willing to be open-minded about it. This fusion sub-genre became more prominent on the rock scene during the late 2000s. Yet, Asking Alexandria was my official introduction to electronicore genre recently.

Sometimes, we’ve got to discover a band and/or genre a little late so that way you can truly appreciate it. There are very few rock bands I’ve discovered around their debut era. I fell in love with many of my favorite rock bands after they became more established.

It has been a little over three months since The Resurrection tour concert. I’ve listened to Asking Alexandria’s new self-titled album in full entirety at least 15 times. With each full listen, I formed a better appreciation for the new band’s new musical style direction. Electronicore is an acquired taste that takes an adjustment period. I look forward to the future music that Asking Alexandria will put out. I’d love to see Asking Alexandria again live in concert next time one of their tours come nearby me. It’s amazing how you can discover awesome new artists/bands when approaching music with an open-mind.

[Warning: This song contains profanity.]

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Our Last Night

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It’s always awesome when you unintentionally discover a lesser-known artist or band. Spotify is a fantastic platform to expand your musical horizons even if it’s only within your preferred music genre(s). I’m picky when it comes to rock covers of popular songs. Several months ago, Spotify recommended a cover of Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” by a band called Our Last Night. I’d never heard of this band. I had no idea what to expect. After listening to their cover song, I was pleasantly surprised. It was much heavier sound than majority of my other rock bands. Yet, I liked it. The band name doesn’t give any indication of which rock sub-genre it is. This piqued curiosity to check out more of Our Last Night’s music.

Post-hardcore is on the heavier end of the rock spectrum. It’s only a few steps away from metal. Technically, it is considered a sub-genre of punk called hardcore punk. I’m no stranger to punk rock genre. I’ve been listening to pop punk and emo genres since I was a teenager. Hardcore punk maintains the fast-upbeat tempo and creative expression of punk rock while simultaneously incorporating a more aggressive, loud sound tone. Also, there is often sporadic bursts of screamed vocals. There is a mixture of clean and unclean vocals in post-hardcore genre. The best of both worlds.

I explored Our Last Night’s other cover songs and original songs. Their music quickly grew on me. They are much lesser-known then the other more mainstream hardcore punk bands I listen to. In a way, it makes them an underdog to keep a close eye on. They will eventually break into the ranks of mainstream post-hardcore bands. They honestly have so much potential. It’s only a matter of time.

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(From left to right: Woody, Tim, Trevor, and Matt)

I’ll give some background about Our Last Night. It was co-created by two brothers, Trevor and Matthew Wentworth, in early 2004 in Hollis, New Hampshire. Trevor and Matt are co-lead vocalists. Trevor provides both clean and unclean vocals. I like his screaming style. I’m quite picky when it comes to screamed vocals. Also, Matt plays the electric guitar, piano and keyboards. Matt is the lyricist for the band’s original songs. Trevor sometimes plays the guitar for acoustic songs. Alex aka Woody is the bass guitarist and provides backing vocals. Tim is the drummer. Their current line-up includes a total of four members since 2006.

Our Last Night has released four studio albums. Their debut album, The Ghosts Among Us, came out in March 2008. Their sophomore album, We Will All Evolve, came out in May 2010. Their first albums feature more unclean vocals given off a more metalcore vibe. Age of Ignorance, the third album, came out in June 2013. Their music style transitions from metalcore to post-hardcore after their third studio album. Younger Dreams came out in June 2015. The band has come out with many EPs as well. In terms of their original songs, Oak Island and Selective Hearing are most notably my favorite of their EPs. Oak Island was released in 2013. Selective Hearing is their latest EP which released in June 2017. I highly recommend checking out their full-band covers of pop songs on their official YouTube channel as well.

Our Last Night’s music has drastically evolved over the past 14 years. I’m more biased to post-hardcore style than metalcore style. I prefer sporadic bursts of screamed vocals over sustained screamed vocals. They have beautifully blended hardcore and melodic pop music styles together in their music after 2012.

I usually see well-known bands in concert. AFI. Fall Out Boy. Paramore. Panic! at the Disco. Switchfoot. Black Veil Brides. Lifehouse. Asking Alexandria. Apart from three, I’ve seen the rest of these bands two or three times live in concert over the years. I wanted to switch things up. To see lesser-known bands before they break into mainstream hardcore scene.  I discovered Our Last Night was launching a US tour for their new EP album, Selective Hearing. One of the tour dates was coming nearby me. Best of all, Baltimore Soundstage is a small, intimate venue compared to other concert venues I’ve checked out. My ticket for Our Last Night’s Selective Hearing tour came to $25 with fees! That’s super cheap! The last time I paid $25 for a concert ticket was for mtvU’s Sunblock music festival with Boys Like Girls, The Academy Is, The Veronicas, Never Shout Never, and Kid Cudi back in July 2009 at Pier 6 Pavilion venue. Over the past couple years, I find myself often buying concerts 3-6 months in advance. This is a good thing especially since almost all the dates on Selective Hearing tour were sold out concerts.

OLN Selective Hearing tour

I was bubbling with excitement the weeks leading up the Our Last Night concert on March 23, 2018. There are certain rock genres I’m skeptical how they sound live in concert. Post-hardcore is one of these genres. But I wasn’t worried about Our Last Night not sounding as good as on their recorded albums. The day of the concert finally arrived. I love Friday evening concerts. It starts off the weekend in a kick-ass way.

My $25 ticket was part of a “buy one, bring one guest free” promotion Baltimore Soundstage had on select concerts during Black Friday period. Also, I was eligible for a free meet and greet session with Our Last Night. How could I say no to such an incredible opportunity?! I had planned on going solo for the concert. Very few of my friends appreciate post-hardcore rock sub-genre. My longtime friend, Erika, and I share many music genre interest in terms of rock music. I decided to bring her as my free guest to the Our Last Night concert. Concerts are more fun when you can share the experience with someone who has similar music taste.

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I literally got off work and ran to make it in time for the designated time for the meet and greet session. There were about 100-ish people in line. I wasn’t expecting that many people. It was a mixture of people who had been longtime fans and new fans of Our Last Night’s music. Baltimore Soundstage staff was efficient in ensuring only those on the list got in for the meet and greet. After waiting in line for one hour, the doors opened and we were allowed into the venue. Our Last Night band members were standing spread out in the “pit” section. There wasn’t really any strict protocol except politely wait in line until it is your turn to talk with the band members. I wasn’t sure we’d get much chance to converse with them seeing with how many people came for the meet and greet session. Matt, Trevor, Woody, and Tim made effort to have actual conversation with each of us in line. I was quite impressed. We had an hour for the meet and greet session. I wasn’t actually nervous when it came to my turn to meet the guys. They’re super chill and awesome people. I told them how thanks to Spotify I randomly discovered their music. Also, I had candid conversation with each of them. Each of them autographed my concert ticket and took a photo with me. (Side note: They give great hugs too. I’m usually not a huggy person. But I make some exceptions of course.)

Another perk of the meet and greet session was we got to choose our spots for the concert before general admission people streamed into the venue. I no longer get an adrenaline rush being in the “pit” standing area right by the main stage. First of all, I actually want to get photos and simultaneously not worrying about fending for my own safety. I honestly have no desire to know what it is like to be in a most pit. I had no doubt there would be one for a post-hardcore concert. It ain’t an uncommon occurrence. Erika and I chose to stand more in the middle of the venue. This area was slightly elevated compared to the ground level standing area. We had much better overhead view of the stage. Also, the acoustics are generally better farther away from the stage. Baltimore Soundstage is a small, intimate venue so everyone can have great view of the stage no matter where you stand in the place.

The opening bands for Our Last Night were Jule Vera, Don Broco, and I The Mighty. Surprisingly, one of Abercrombie & Fitch’s store playlist featured a Jule Vera song called “Bad Company”. Otherwise, I’d never heard of any of the other two opening bands. But I had an open-mind when listening to the bands’ music. I liked them all. Out of the three opening bands, I really enjoyed Don Broco’s set the most. They have a quirky musical style. I’m excited to see Don Broco again at Vans Warped tour in July.

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One perk of smaller concert venues is being able to meet the bands for free. I decided to check out the merchandise table before Our Last Night went on stage. This was right after Don Broco’s set and before I The Mighty’s set.  I was sad there wasn’t any Don Broco merchandise. At Our Last Night’s table, I purchased a Selective Hearing tour tee ($25) and two CDs ($10). I accidentally bumped into someone on the way back to my spot. It turned out to be Don Broco’s lead singer, Rob Damiani. I apologized first before proceeding to chat a few minutes with him. He was so chill. I also took a photo with Rob before heading back to my spot.

It was finally time for Our Last Night’s set! Not surprising there was a mosh pit at some point of their performance. That’s why I didn’t want to be too close to the main stage. Trevor mainly provide commentary between songs. At one point, Woody, the bassist, crowd surfed from the stage to the bar and back to the stage. It was quite impressive. Our Last Night certainly know how to energetically engage the crowd. This sold out concert date had approximately 1,000 to 1,100 attendees. Despite the small stage, Our Last Night sounds amazing live! I love when a band/artist sound even better live than on their recorded albums.

Our Last Night performed a jam-packed 15 song setlist. Most of the songs were from their recent Selective Hearing EP. There was mixture of songs from Younger Dreams and Oak Island albums. The setlist even included two cover songs.

Our Last Night Baltimore Soundstage setlist

 

 

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Our Last Night is an up-and-coming post-hardcore band to tabs on. I have no doubt they’ll break into mainstream hardcore scene eventually in time. Our Last Night has gained a new fan. I’m glad I randomly discovered them through Spotify’s Release Radar playlist. Life is full of surprises. I eagerly look forward to their upcoming original and cover songs. Also, I’ll definitely see them again live in concert when their next tour comes nearby me.