Friday, March 21, 2014

Asking Alexandria at the Best Buy Theater

Danny Worsnop
Only one internationally-known heavy metal band can claim to have originated in the United Arab Emirates. Guitarist Ben Bruce started Asking Alexandria in Dubai in 2008, but that original line-up recorded only one album and quickly disbanded. Bruce returning to his native England and formed a new version of the band. The current line-up of Asking Alexandria consists of Bruce on lead guitar, Danny Worsnop on vocals, Cameron Liddell on rhythm guitar, Sam Bettley on bass and James Cassells on drums. The band's third album, From Death to Destiny, was released in 2013.

At the Best Buy Theater tonight, the staging was big; a large banner featured the band's name, many stage lights pointed to the audience, James Cassells' drums were on a very high riser, and there were two puzzling staircases at each end of the stage which were never used during the show. Asking Alexandria came on stage to blinding lights and pre-recorded industrial music. As the audience cheered, Asking Alexandria launched into a fiery repertoire that was equal parts screamo, metalcore and heavy metal. The five musicians opened aggressively with "Don't Pray for Me", "Run Free" and "Breathless," raised the intensity by the time they played "Reckless & Relentless" and " The Death of Me," and remained ferocious through to the encores, "Welcome", "Closure" and "The Final Episode." Much of the set was fast and frantic, with heavy riffs and bombastic drum explosions. A song would start, and there was an equal chance that, by the chorus, the song would either turn into a melodic hair-metal rocker or a choppy nu-metal breakdown. Danny Worsnop looked more like a lumberjack than a metal singer in his scraggly beard and torn flannel shirt (later removed to reveal a black t-shirt with a large white skull emblem), yet he effectively sang old-school clean-vocal metal and growled new metal. in parallel, the music ranged from raw to polished, often within the same song. In metalcore, so many bands sound indistinguishable, but Asking Alexandria married several familiar hard rocking genres to form something just a bit unique.

Visit Asking Alexandria at askingalexandria.com.