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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My Chemical Romance

MCRBack in middle school, “scene” genre was considered part of mainstream popular music. Oh the nostalgia when rock music was played on the Top 40 radio. It saddens me I didn’t begin to explore the “scene” genre until 2008. At this point, this genre’s popularity was slowly waning within mainstream music. Rock was beginning to become a niche music genre again.

My Chemical Romance released their third studio album, The Black Parade, back in October 2006. The Black Parade is essentially a rock opera album. I was well-aware of this band’s popularity among my fellow school peers. Yet, I wasn’t willing to give this band a chance. It wasn’t the right time in my life.

My love for rock genre music has exponentially grown since 2006. Of course I only discovered some “scene” artists several years later. In certain circumstances, time better allows you to embrace something with a more open-mind perspective. I can now approach certain pop-punk artists from the mid-2000s I had previously refused to listen to. My Chemical Romance definitely falls into this category.

One of my college friends is a huge fan of My Chemical Romance. She had often recommended this band to me. She swore they fit well within my rock genre musical taste. But I was still very hesitant.

So what exactly convinced me to listen to My Chemical Romance’s music? In short, my obsession with Andy Black’s solo album, The Shadow Side, played a key role. On Andy Black’s solo album, the co-founders of My Chemical Romance, Gerard Way and Mikey Way, contributed to the track “Louder Than Your Love”. Gerard co-wrote the song lyrics. Mikey played bass guitar parts for the song. Somehow, this finally convinced to listen to My Chemical Romance. I cannot even tell you the reason why for this sudden, impromptu decision. Only took me ten years before I was willing to give this band’s music a chance. It is strange how some things work out.

I listen to my fair share of rock bands. Generally, I’ve gotten used to tenor vocal ranges when it comes to lead vocalists. Yet, I can still differentiate the various tenor vocals among the lead singers of my bias bands. Of course, some lead vocalists have unique singing vocals. Black Veil Bride’s Andy Biersack and My Chemical Romance’s Gerard Way falls into this category. Andy Biersack has a beautifully deep raspy baritone vocal tone. Gerard Way has an intriguing sing-screaming tenor vocal tone. Both are definitely acquired tastes and not everyone’s cup of tea.

Almost two weeks ago, I began my journey to discover My Chemical Romance’s music on Spotify. They have an extensive selection of their full studio albums, live albums, and EP albums. Best of all, they have all the uncensored versions of their songs. Censorship of profanity in bias rock band’s music is one of my biggest pet peeves. Among my bias rock artists, there isn’t that much strong profanity overall. Typically “clean” versions of explicit rock songs are pretty shitty. It doesn’t even properly edit out the swear word. You can still figure out what the swear word is despite the censorship within the song. Apologies for that slightly off-topic rant.

Anyway, I created a My Chemical Romance playlist on my Spotify. I was a bit thrown off by the sing-screaming vocals of Gerard Way at first. Some of lead singers in my favorite rock bands have sing-screaming vocals. Red, Linkin Park. AFI, Black Veil Brides, Thirty Seconds to Mars, and Three Days Grace to name a few. But nothing quite like Gerard Way’s vocals. His sing-screaming vocals are distinctive. Pretty clean cut in regards of easily making out the lyrics in MCR’s songs. But not so refined it feels too polished. Yet, it conveys a wide range of intensely raw emotions. Not only different types of frustrated or angry emotions. After two or three days, I got accustomed to the lead singer’s unique vocals.

Now I comprehend why people love My Chemical Romance. Out of most “scene” genre artist, this band has heavier tones injected into their music. I tend to gravitate to bands whose music has darker undertones. Even many years later, I cannot explain why this is the case with some of my rock genre music. Some things in life are just inexplicable conundrums. Anyway, I’ve really come to love My Chemical Romance’s music. I don’t necessarily have strong connection with their song lyrics. Although, My Chemical Romance meets the three essential elements I look for in rock music. Beautifully complex layering of instrumental sound, emotionally-charged vocals, and confessional lyrics. Also, not too repetitive lyrics or song beat. These are more than enough reasons for me to become very attached to a band. In addition, I really love the creative cinematic theatrics incorporated into their music videos. Not many of my “scene” bands have included theatrical elements into their music. The exception to this are AFI, Panic! at the Disco, and Fall Out Boy.

Sadly, My Chemical Romance officially announced their disbandment back in March 2013. Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys was MCR’s last full studio album before their disbandment. Following their break-up, the band released their greatest hits collection album, May Death Never Stop You. in March 2014. This greatest hits collection album included content spanning their 12 years music career and one unreleased single track titled “Fake Your Death”.

MCR recently posted an extremely cryptic video teaser promoting the date of September 23, 2016. This sent fans into a frenetic frenzy. People basically assumed the band was reuniting. Nope. Not the case at all. My Chemical Romance later revealed the significance of September 23, 2016.

In honor of its 10th anniversary, The Black Parade album will be re-issued as a deluxe edition. This version will include The Black Parade’s full-length album along with never-before content such as 11 demos and outtakes from the album’s original recording session. The actual 10th anniversary is October 23, 2016. I shall be eagerly looking forward to their The Black Parade/Living With Ghosts album.

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Unfortunately, I have the tendency to discover some bands after they’ve officially broken up. Just my luck. Now I will never have the opportunity to see My Chemical Romance live in concert. I shall vicariously live through concert videos posted on YouTube. Also, I have Spotify to get My Chemical Romance music fix. That is more than enough to make me content. Overall, My Chemical Romance has earned a new fan even if I’m very late to the party.

 

Rock Music

I didn’t grow up listening to rock music. Middle school was truly when music became an integral part of my life. It wasn’t until 2006 I discovered the rock genre. There is a three way tie with artist/band who introduced me to this particular music genre. Skillet’s Comatose album. Three Days Grace’s One-X album. AFI’s Decemberunderground album. 2006 was a pivotal year that left an indelible impact on my musical taste. This would shape my music preference as a teenager along with well into adulthood years.

In my previous blog post, it recounted of my discovery of AFI thanks to Smallville’s episode 6.09 titled “Subterranean”. YouTube’s debut in 2005 was monumental for the music industry. People had more access to music from their favorite artists and bands. It wasn’t until 2006 I regularly used this video-sharing website. Around this time, Smallville and Gossip Girl were my TV show obsessions. Fandom subculture was further perpetuated within society thanks to technological advances of the internet. YouTube was one of the leading technological platforms which influenced the fandom subculture. TV show fan-made YouTube videos related to Smallville and Gossip Girl was my official introduction to Three Days Grace and Skillet.

100 Years of Rock Music’s Evolution (Infographic)

Rock music has a plethora of sub-genres. Further sub-genres continue to proliferate within the rock genre still to this day. My rock music interest lays mainly in “scene” genre. Although, some of my rock bands are on the heavier spectrum in terms of musical style. So they don’t exactly go into the “scene” categorization. Over the past 10 years, I’ve broadened my music horizons and discovered many more rock artists. Way too many to list. Often, I’ve branched out to other rock artists as a result of influences from my friends or social environment.

My bias rock bands are usually categorized in 3-5 sub-genres. It gets so confusing to keep track of what genre classifications my artists fit into. Cumulatively, my favorite rock bands have many genre labels. Pop punk rock. Alternative rock. Christian alternative rock. Nu-metal. Hardcore punk. Alternative metal. Progressive rock. Symphonic metal. Hard rock. Post-hardcore. Electronic rock. Gothic metal. Punk rock. Glam metal. Emo pop rock.

Rock subgenres

Over the past few years, I’ve adopted the philosophy of keeping genre classifications as broad as possible. I’m not even sure of the exact distinction between sub-genres at times. Some sub-genres sound too similar to me.

Also, certain rock sub-genres are surrounded with much stigma and inaccurate assumptions. It promotes a closed-minded, ignorant outlook on certain types of music. Those alone can cause a person to not give an artist or band a chance. This is why if people ask about my bands I keep genre labels as very general. Not using very niche sub-genre classifications. I will only do this with individuals who are already familiar with the particular niche sub-genre. Sometimes, sub-genres constrict people from generating more vast variety among their artists. It will pleasantly surprise you what artists/bands you discover when you embrace a more open-minded perspective. This is certainly true when it comes to my rock genre artists.

I tend to gravitate towards emotionally-charged rock with confessional lyrics about life in general. The moments of joy, frustration, hope, and sorrow to name a few emotions. Cliché concepts don’t bother me too much as long it is brilliantly executed within the song’s lyrics and musical style.

Lately, I’ve contemplated what drew me to my favorite rock bands. Often, people’s attachment to an artist or band revolves around emotional connection to song lyrical content. This is not case for majority of my rock bands. What a fascinating conundrum. Then why do I still listen to my bias rock bands many years later? I look for three essential elements in my rock music. Beautifully complex layering of drums and guitars, emotionally-charged vocals, and confessional lyrics. Not too repetitive lyrics or song beat. I want to be able to tell my rock songs apart. Often, this cannot be said about pop genre music.

To date, there are only three rock bands who have invoked such strong emotional connection from me through their confessional lyrics. Skillet, Three Days Grace, and Black Veil Brides. Also, they have a much heavier rock sound incorporated into their music. Times when I’m experiencing any sort of anger, frustration, or sorrow I’ll listen to heavier tone rock music from my hardcore genre artists.

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I do listen to other music genres like soundtrack, Asian pop, and smidgen of mainstream pop. Yet I don’t listen to these genres as frequently compared to rock music. I can listen to my beloved rock artists regardless of my mood. Also, his particular music genre is extremely therapeutic. Over the past 10 years, my love for rock genre music keeps exponentially growing. It never gets old. Only getting better with age like a fine wine.

Andy Black

I love summer for many reasons. Besides the warmer weather, summer is a fantastic time for me to discover new books, music, and TV shows. It is almost six months since I joined Spotify. In fact, the only reason I joined was to listen to Panic! at the Disco’s new album, Death of a Bachelor, the day of its release. I had no idea how wonderfully addictive Spotify was. This is an amazing music streaming app. I cannot believe I haven’t join Spotify earlier.

The Shadow SideFrom June 14th to today, I have obsessively listened to Andy Black solo album and Black Veil Brides albums. Let’s start with Andy Black since it was The Shadow Side that sparked my obsession. Some days I get random whim urges to check out a certain artist/band. I’d seen Andy Black’s name sporadically pop up on my Twitter timeline and one of my friend’s Spotify listening sessions. So I decided to check out Andy Black’s music. I honestly had no idea what to expect but nonetheless kept an open-mind going into it.

Holy moly! I was completely surprised by Andy Black’s deep raspy vocals. It was a very pleasant surprise. The Shadow Side album was love at first listen. So much raw emotions woven into every song on the album. Beautiful storytelling of the ups and downs in his life. Now this is what I look for in music. Lyrical content depth is seriously lacking in majority of mainstream music. The dark-wave pop/rock vibe of Andy Black’s solo album was very appealing as well.

Also, I checked out the music video for the album’s single “We Don’t Have To Dance” on YouTube. HUGE MISTAKE! I was neither mentally nor emotionally prepared for his overwhelming gorgeousness. Andy is so beautiful…I legit cried the first time I saw “We Don’t Have To Dance” music video. (Random side note: I don’t casually throw around the word “beautiful” when describing a guy. It is the highest form of compliment that one can be bestowed with.) His gorgeousness and deep raspy vocals basically melted me into a puddle of fangirl feels! I don’t care how pathetic this sounds. Also, his unique vocal tone is quite soothing to listen to for many hours. I haven’t experienced such an intense reaction like that since I discovered Panic! at the Disco’s music five years ago. Brendon Urie now has a rival. I’m seriously not kidding.

I consulted the almighty Google to learn more about Andy Black. Andy Black, better known as Andy Biersack, is the lead singer of Black Veil Brides. Very fascinating name for a rock band. This very much intrigued me. Plus, I was curious whether Black Veil Bride’s music was similar in sound to Andy Black’s solo album. I’ve listened to the rock genre for the past 6-10 years. For some unknown reason, I had never heard of Black Veil Brides until very recently. The next blog post will go into more detail about my Black Veil Brides obsession.

I’ll leave you with Andy Black’s official music video for “They Don’t Need To Understand”. This music video is from two years ago. Andy Biersack wanted to introduce listeners to his upcoming Andy Black solo project.