Asking Alexandria’s third album, From Death To Destiny, debuted in the ARIA Top 20 last month and is quickly becoming the UK metalcore outfit’s most successful release to date. The band’s guitarist and founding member Ben Bruce indicates that that an utterly dedicated fan base are largely to thank for launching Asking Alexandria into a prominent position in the heavy music world. “We’ve come to realise over the years, three albums deep, that our core fan base is among the loyalest fan base I’ve seen any band gain in their time of touring, which is really awesome.”
Last year Bruce told US chart website Billboard that From Death To Destiny would be far more “radio-friendly” than their previous work. His words offended some diehard fans, who interpreted them as a plan to take a soulless commercial path. As Bruce explains, the concerns were unfounded.
“When I said ‘radio-friendly’, I meant we were writing songs that we wanted to go on the radio; the choruses were big enough to be on the radio but they’re still heavy. We wanted to prove to the world that heavy music does belong on the radio and you can get national and international radio play with heavy songs. There hasn’t really been a band to do that since Slipknot – we wanted to be the next”.
Rather than looking to make a carbon copy of the predominantly safe and sterile music that dominates rock radio, Bruce says he always determined to deliver an aural onslaught to listeners. “When I was writing this album I did have in mind a certain style that would be acceptable for radio, but still scare most people that turn their radio on.” But writing music purely for the sake of landing on radio playlists, he adds, would massively compromise the band’s driving ethos. “The only reason we play music is because we love it and we enjoy it. As soon as you start writing music for reasons other than your own personal enjoyment, that’s when it gets stale and boring and people no longer connect with it.”
From Death To Destiny furthers the band’s proven penchant for placing fist-pumping vocal refrains in the midst of charging metal riffery. Bruce says their confidence to deploy strong melodic sequences has only grown since the early records. “Since day one of Asking Alexandria, we’ve always tried to have those anthemic choruses and those sing-along sections. In that respect it hasn’t changed that much, it’s just we’ve gotten better at writing what we like to call ‘stadium rock anthems’. Before, it would be big gang chants that got the crowds going, now we try to rely on the choruses to have people singing along.”
Australian audiences will get the opportunity to sing in ferocious unison with Asking Alexandria when they’re here for Soundwave early next year. Bruce is perceptibly excited about taking part in the festival.
“For a while everyone thought heavy music and rock was at a low point and maybe it dying out was a worry due to record sales not being what they once were, but festivals like Soundwave are further proof that the rock scene is a huge community. It’s a great thing to see, not just the amount of fans that come out and participate, but also the sheer amount of bands from all over the globe that come out. Everyone gets on, everyone has a good time and everyone’s just there to play some rock’n’roll, and it’s a really, really awesome thing.”
BY AUGUSTUS WELBY
Asking Alexandria plays Soundwave Festival 2014 with Greenday, Avenged Sevenfold, Alice In Chains, Rob Zombie, Megadeth, Placebo, Biffy Clyro, Newsted and more at Sydney Olympic Park on Sunday February 23. From Death To Destiny out now through Sumerian Records.