Sumerian Records are celebrating their 10th anniversary by putting on a legendary tour called 10 Years In The Black. Headlining the tour is Asking Alexandria, which is huge for the reason that this is the first tour in which original vocalist Danny Worsnop is reunited with the band (Danny’s departure was announced in January of 2015). This tour had support from Born of Osiris, I See Stars, After The Burial, Upon A Burning Body, and Bad Omens, who are all signed to the label as well.
A lot has been happening these past several days in the heavy music scene, so instead of doing a hundred individual posts we’re just going to sum up some of the highlights from this week. Let us know what you’re most stoked on or what caught you most by surprise!
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The British Invasion Tour, consisting of Bullet For My Valentine and openers Asking Alexandria and While She Sleeps, swept the stage at the Playstation Theater in New York on February 23rd. As soon as the doors opened at 6:00 sharp, fans bolted to the pit and found their spots. These hardcore fans waited outside on that line in the freezing cold for hours to see their favorite bands play and believe me, it ended up being worth it in the end.
While former vocalist Danny Worsnop gets his shit together running around the streets of LA looking more or less like a lost and deranged homeless man, as online sources and IG accounts have claimed, his former bandmates in Asking Alexandria push forward with their newest vocalist Denis Stoff. Today, via Sumerian Records‘ YouTube account, the five piece dropped their latest video for “The Black” off of their upcoming record of the same name.
Vesta Collide, a five-piece metalcore act from Detroit, have just signed with Stay Sick Recordings and released a music video for their song “VII”, and they’ve certainly caught our attention. “VII” moves from heavy, early-Asking Alexandria type riffage and unclean vocals to ethereal melodies to eerie synth embellishments, and does so pretty seamlessly. Check out the music video below to listen to this new sick jam and definitely keep an eye on these guys and the rest of the Stay Sick bands!
Want MORE Vesta Collide? Check out the lyric video for “Moondancer” HERE.
As if you didn’t already know from months of not-so-subtle speculation and hint-dropping from other online sources, Denis Shaforostov is the new vocalist of Asking Alexandria. The infamous metalcore act welcomed the singer to their ranks after he recently signed to the same label, Sumerian Records, with band Down & Dirty. There hasn’t been much word on what this means for the budding band, who still list Denis as their vocalist on their Facebook page, but there has been a new AA single released.
The new song, “I Won’t Give In,” is a step in a slightly softer direction for the controversial band. Mostly tame until the husky breakdown kicks in, the single doesn’t seem to have much bite in terms of sound. In terms of lyrical content, however, get the antidote ready. “Every breath you take/ I watch you slip away/ You’re slowly killing yourself/ I won’t give in” are the venomous words of the chorus, and it doesn’t take a mindreader to guess who they may have been written by and directed at. The question is, has Danny Worsnop heard it yet?
Let us know what you think of the new Asking Alexandria lineup and the new sound, and catch them on the Vans Warped Tour 2015.
There has been increasing talk of the lack of women in the hardcore scene lately. Yet for all the talk, there doesn’t seem to be adequate exploration of why this is so or of what’s truly going on here. Relative to other rock genres like metal and alternative, hardcore seems to be the most homogenous and male-dominated of all. The reasons for this phenomenon may be far and wide, but I’d like to point to one particular issue that I’ve noticed in my years of listening to post-hardcore–the lyrics.
YouTuber Jared Dines hilariously sums it up in one of his satirical videos of the scene, “10 Styles of Metal.” A few seconds into the video, when the genre title “POST HARDCORE” holds above his head, Dines elucidates in unclean vocals: “My girlfriend broke up with me/ I’m really upset about it/ It’s really my own fault/ But I’m gonna blame her.” While saying that all post-hardcore bands sport the same lyrical content is an overgeneralization, any fan can laugh at how common and, for the most part, accurate Dines’ criticism actually is. Women tend to be given a certain symbolic status of vixen or betrayer or, like in a recent Ice Nine Kills music video, succubus.
Personally, I love the music metalcore band Ice Nine Kills make, but I’ve got to admit that the video for “The Fastest Way To A Girl’s Heart Is Through Her Ribcage” is troubling. It’s become so commonplace now that we no longer realize it, or if we do, we let it pass by us as mere fact–the idea that woman is the downfall of man. In this particular case, a (sexually) voracious female demon that we watch vocalist Spencer Charnas brutally kill is the subject matter. Coupled with lyrics like “You’d be just as sexy bleeding,” this visual takes the trope to a more obvious extreme. While some of you out there may argue “it’s just a music video” or “you’re taking this too seriously,” I’d like to suggest that sometimes the effects outweigh the intent. Do most guys approach their actions or the art they make with the explicit idea that they’re going to villainize women? I’d like to guess not. But the unconscious ideas are there and they keep getting nonchalantly perpetuated, and in this instance, as an INK fan, become alienating to me.
Perhaps the very icon for this kind of behavior is British powerhouse Asking Alexandria; or, to get right down to it, ex-frontman Danny Worsnop. The cover art for the band’s latest album From Death To Destiny is a prime example of the female figure being reduced to a purely sexual and symbolic role for the male frontman. In the image (above), the woman is placed naked in a vending machine at the male rock star’s disposal should he have a few bucks on him to spare. She is a resource of pleasure for him, an object. In short, she is dehumanized. Take virtually any strand of lyrics from Asking Alexandria over the years and you’ll find something similar. Again, AA is a band I’ve enjoyed listening to musically for a while, but lyrically it’s hard to escape “I knew when I first saw you/You’d fuck like a whore” (“Not The American Average“).
On the more pop-oriented side of the post-hardcore spectrum, Falling In Reverse‘s music video for “Good Girls Bad Guys” gives us yet another example. In the video, a car pulls up and lets attractive women out of the trunk, parading them around on a kind of catwalk for the men on the set. Their only value in the space of the video is as beautiful objects; commodities that give the men their successful, masculine status. These women are only here for the purpose of reflecting the male ego back on itself in a positive light.
This editorial isn’t here to call out anyone specifically, or even to call out men in general. “Men = bad, women = good” isn’t the idea here, and hardcore/post-hardcore/metalcore aren’t the only genres that have issues with representation of women. Rather, the purpose of this article is to call out a prevailing attitude that I think needs some reevaluation; the attitude that, to quote Laura Mulvey, “Women are bearers of meaning, not makers of meaning.”
For me, this is the link to creating a “Women of Hardcore” serial. There needs to be a shift in perspective. By collecting interviews with various female talents in the scene, we want to emphasize these people as active contributors to music and music culture, and hopefully, show other fans of hardcore–female and male–that there is a place for them, too. So let’s go make some meaning, regardless of your sexy parts.
Miss May I have been pretty busy since the beginning of 2015. After being on the road in support of August Burns Red, the Ohio-based quintet has seemingly found time to not only write but also fully record their fifth studio album. Keeping fans up to date on the whole studio process via Instagram, it looks as if the final recordings for their upcoming record have finally been completed. Now it’s off to mixing to get those masters ready for release!
This time around Miss May I opted to go back to producer Joey Sturgis who worked on their first two records, Apologies Are For The Weak and Monument. Sturgis is easily one of the most well respected producers in the scene and best known for his work with The Devil Wears Prada and Asking Alexandria. (His work on AA’s “The Final Episode” is certified gold.)
Fans can expect the new Miss May I record to drop later this year. But, as they wait for some upcoming jams, let’s take it back to one of our favorite Sturgis-produced throwbacks, “Relentless Chaos.” Stay metal, my friends!
Dear Capture The Crown, we’re glad you’re still alive.
But let’s start from the beginning. Alesana hit NYC’s Webster Hall on April 9th, almost a year to the day since the last time they played The Studio with Get Scared in 2014. Taking the larger Marlin Room upstairs this time with support from Capture The Crown, The Browning, Conquer Divide, and Revival Recordings mates The Funeral Portrait, the headliner’s cult status was never more obvious. Translation: Alesana don’t need space. No matter how many albums the sextet record, they will always be better suited to claustrophobic basement dens, partially because they’re such a niche band and because their live performance feeds off of the intimacy between artist and fan. Unfortunately, some indie folk band needed The Studio that night, so all the hardcore kids had to deal with awkwardly spacious mosh pits, which was essentially like popping a balloon with too much air.
Despite the yards of empty floor, openers The Funeral Portrait were able to get the crowd moving. In a peculiar but striking brand of showmanship, vocalist Lee Jennings fled the stage like he was wanted in four states before the last note could hold up a search warrant. But before making his hasty exit, Jennings hopped onto the floor to sing a chorus or two with the crowd and held “story time” with his “readers” on bended knee. While many bands in the scene like to put the audience on their knees to reinforce some sort of power dynamic (Asking Alexandria, BMTH, and *ahem* Capture The Crown), Jennings lowered himself alongside his audience to engage in the art of storytelling. We were all in on a fantasy, a secret, and I prefer that over bowing down to Your Royal Band-ness any day.
Conquer Divide came next, and while I’m thrilled about the idea of an all-girl post-hardcore band, the set fell flat. The songs were good enough, but the only two who had any semblance of stage presence were the unclean vocalist (Janel) and the drummer (Tamara). Here’s an example of a band that could afford to lord a little power over the crowd.
The Browning’s electronically infused metal was what really revved the fans into gear. Epic, danceable beats melded with As I Lay Dying-style vocals for killer, bouncy moshing–which isn’t as oxymoronic as it sounds. Maybe not everyone knew who The Browning were, but that didn’t stop them from partying and punching to each track. It was a set done with too soon.
Capture The Crown took the stage afterward. And if you think this is all happening a bit too quickly, you’re not wrong. Webster Hall was unnervingly punctual that night to a fault, imposing rapid set changes and even a 10pm curfew. The time restriction wasn’t the worst news of the night, however, as CTC bassist Maurice Morfaw announced that vocalist Jeffrey Wellfare wouldn’t be performing. In a dangerous turn of events, the band’s tour vehicle had put the members through some carbon monoxide poisoning, making vocal duties difficult for Wellfare (a name now slathered in irony). They brought on a friend to do replacement vocals; or rather, to pretend to do replacement vocals. The audio engineer essentially muted his mic and backtracked the vocals, which is disturbing on many levels for a live performance, but especially for a hardcore/metalcore show. After watching his band tank for two songs, Wellfare ran to the rescue and pushed past his initial coarseness to save the set. The old adage “the show must go on” held true, or how we at HXC like to phrase it, “STILL ALIVE!”
Finally, there are only so many ways to describe what it’s like to watch the frighteningly charismatic Alesana play live. The best way I can think to put it is this: When you watch Alesana live, you get the sense that you are watching modern day poets; artistry at its finest. They’re not just generic band dudes that win the crowd with ego. It is a much deeper, more transcendent experience than that. Like mad scientists in their laboratory, the band members laugh wide-eyed and maniacally, loving every minute of their intricately woven insanity. From creepy fan-favorite “The Murderer” to brand new “Oh, How The Mighty Have Fallen” to the reigning “Annabel”, Alesana filled the too-spacious room with passionate presence. Perhaps no one has ever hated curfew more. Until next year, boys. Same time same place? We’ll be there.