The three years since From Death to Destiny have ushered in some major changes for Asking Alexandria. With the band’s lead singer Danny Worsnop leaving the band for new musical ventures in 2015 and Make Me Famous’ vocalist Denis Stoff taking his place, the core of the band had entirely changed. As such, this also had an influence on the resulting studio album, The Black.
Moving away from the lighter style of From Death to Destiny, The Black leans closer to Asking Alexandria’s classic style. A majority of the songs revolve around deafening walls of guitar and percussion with a flow between clean vocals and screaming, and a considerably larger level of polish compared to the previous albums. Stoff’s voice sounds quite at home among the mix, making for a relatively smooth transition for the new vocalist, but also pinpointing just how little has changed. Rather than using this opportunity to evolve with new energy in the band, it was used as an opportunity to fall back on exactly what they had always done. In turn, this makes the album somewhat dry rather than refreshing.
The album is decently divided into two styles; the likes of Let It Sleep and the title track The Black are the more aggressive style. Let It Sleep’s relentless onslaught of sound in the form of a wall of guitar and percussion feels like a tried and true metalcore track, and the smooth transition into the following track The Black continuing the style and highlighting their similarity, apart from its awkward piano section. The more melodic moments that feature less abrasive production yet all follow the same style; the most interesting cut is easily Send Me Home, which retains the heavy guitars but whose melody and vocals give it a more sincere and relatable style.
The album does feature one major left turn, though, in the form of Gone. As a piano ballad with an orchestral backing, it sticks out like a sore thumb on the album—The only remotely similar song is The Lost Souls, which mixes metalcore with strings but doesn’t quite pull it off—yet manages to give Stoff a truly genuine moment to shine vocally. He very much has a different style and tone to Worsnop, and one that shines here more so than on the rest of the album, though it rarely ever acts as the detracting factor to a song.
As a whole, The Black is both what you would expect and a little bit of something different from Asking Alexandria: While Gone is a major change-up, the remainder is as you would expect, enhanced by Stoff’s vocals but rarely made better because of them. The album will probably attract classic Asking Alexandria fans more so than people who enjoyed From Death to Destiny, but it will do little to convince those that had their doubts about the band in the first place.