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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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.
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.
We’re all aware by now that Ronnie Radke is an asshole, and with the arrival of Falling In Reverse’s new album, Just Like You, it’s safe to say he’s not afraid of owning it. The music video for the title track of the band’s third record celebrates a fact to which those of you who have ever seen the infamous frontman perform can attest–being an asshole for some reason only adds to Radke’s entrancing charisma.
In this video directed by Zach Merck–who has directed a handful of other Radke videos dating back to the “Situations” days–the singer resumes the familiar role of the reality TV star. Here starring as a competitor (and, of course, ultimate winner of) talent contest parody “The Choice,” Radke makes it clear that if nothing else, he’s a born showman; or at the very least, that it’s worthwhile seeing him cross-dress as Jessie J. You’ll spot a few familiar faces who are, like Radke, known for their shall we say, less-than-reserved demeanors. How many (Andy) dicks can you spot in one video? (And yes, the larger-than-life phallic symbol of the microphone between Radke’s legs at the end definitely counts.)
The internet is blowing up with “Breaking News: Danny Worsnop Leaves Asking Alexandria” headlines. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and various music media outlets are all reporting that yes, Mr. Worsnop has finally left Asking Alexandria, but the real question is “Is this actually breaking news?” The best answer to that would be no, it’s not. Ever since the third AA album, From Death to Destiny, dropped in 2013 there have been rumors of tension between Worsnop and the rest of AA. The golden friendship we saw between Worsnop and AA guitarist/founder Ben Bruce seemed clouded and the overall aesthetic of the third full-length felt forced and pulled in two different directions: AA’s signature electro-metalcore sound and the ode to ’80s hard rock that would eventually shape Worsnop’s “side project” We Are Harlot.
For anyone who has not read it, Worsnop left this note to his followers on Twitter to make his announcement:
“To all of my friends and fans: I would like to let you know that Asking Alexandria and I are moving forward in separate ways. Over the last eight years together we’ve done some amazing things and created something truly special. I now, same as then, want what’s best for the band and at this point in time, that isn’t me. Asking Alexandria will continue to tour throughout the year and will be working on a new album. I will always support and love Asking Alexandria and cannot wait to see what the future holds for them. I am excited for the next chapter of my life with We Are Harlot and will see you all on the road!”
As Worsnop forgoes continuing to work with AA, I have to ask why? Leaving a band he helped break into the scene, of which he became both a prominent face and a respected icon, is kind of like career suicide, especially if he is leaving to pursue something more in the hard rock sphere rather than the -core realm. Facebook comments are attributing this switch due to the damage Worsnop’s vocal chords have received over the years thanks to his relentless partying. Back when I was growing up and learning how to play drums, my drum teacher–for whom I have the most respect–pulled the whole “steer clear of drugs and alcohol” routine that all after school programs regurgitate to their pupils. He told me, “Don’t drink underage or passed your limit. If you do that, then you can’t be the drummer of Led Zeppelin.” Now, my teacher was referring to John Bonham who died due to over consumption of alcohol, but that always stuck with me. In Danny’s case, if he has left Asking Alexandria due to the damage drugs and alcohol inflicted, physically and perhaps interpersonally, then my drum teacher was right. All actions have consequences, even when you have made it to the top (of the scene). AA, however, accommodated Worsnop’s vocal change in From Death to Destiny showcasing in tracks like “The Death of Me” that their aesthetic could work with Worsnop’s new limitations, thus making his departure only two days after the announcement of We Are Harlot’s debut album more jarring.
Danny Worsnop with We Are Harlot in their latest release.
The two releases we have received from We Are Harlot, “Denial” and “Dancing On Nails,” have left me in a world of confusion. Whereas “Denial” sounds like Nikki Sixx got drunk, wrote a song at 3am, spilled a beer on his notes and then recorded what he had left before he went to sleep, “Dancing On Nails” is a little more digestible. The issue with these two ’80s throwbacks is that they feel like ’80s throwbacks…being played in a bar..in the East Village…by Steel Panther fans. There’s absolutely nothing in We Are Harlot at this point that I haven’t heard before. Hell, there is nothing in We Are Harlot that my parents haven’t heard before. It’s an overdone concept that bands like We Are Harlot, Black Veil Brides (and even Escape the Fate to a sense) are trying to unlock by bringing back old school rock. News Flash: Old school rock ‘n’ roll is decidedly dead by the old school rockers (*cough* Gene Simmons *cough*).
I am in no way agreeing with Simmons in saying that rock ‘n’ roll is dead. I personally believe it is very much alive, but it is alive because that old school sound no longer is. Today we have bands who are really pushing the boundaries of hardcore, metal, punk, thrash, etc. We have bands who are expanding the definition of rock ‘n’ roll; bands that are still edgy, innovative, outlandish, and of the times. As the post-hardcore scene paved the way from its earlier days with groups like Botch and Every Time I Die to what it is now with our beloved British rockers, Asking Alexandria, we consistently see progression in rock ‘n’ roll. Rock is only dead if we continue to fall back on our laurels and never risk taking it somewhere new.
Danny Worsnop circa 2009 with Asking Alexandria.
So, do I think Danny Worsnop is killing his career by forsaking Asking Alexandria? Yes. His voice is no longer what it once was, which is a true tragedy, and his creative outlook has now trailed off from that which made Stand Up and Scream one of the most innovative metalcore albums of its time. But as the saying goes, when one door closes, another opens, and I look forward to seeing where Ben Bruce and crew take Asking Alexandria in the near future.
Don’t agree with me? That’s cool. Let HXC know why in the comments below. We want to hear from you!