A bit of rocktronica and the big guns of metal
Asking Alexandria is from that next generation of metal bands that’s unafraid to mix some rock, screamo, punk, and yes, even dance music, into its cacophony. So when the British band was asked to spend its summer in front of thousands of hardcore American headbangers—many of whom have spent their lives worshiping at the altars of purist acts like Slayer, Motorhead, and Anthrax—there was some understandable trepidation.
“I was a little apprehensive at first,” guitarist/founder Ben Bruce says in between riding roller coasters at Cedar Point amusement park in Ohio.
“It’s so intimidating. I didn’t know how their fans would respond to us. But it’s been beyond expectations. It’s been amazing.”
It is amazing, what happens when 10,000-20,000 like-minded, half-crazed fans gather in an outdoor venue for an all-day blitz of bands from the always-expanding metal genre. And perhaps no band on this year’s bill (which is topped by the aforementioned Slayer, Motorhead, and Anthrax, as well as metalcore kings Slipknot) exemplifies the changing face of the genre more than Bruce’s rowdy, hard-partying crew.
The band’s debut, Stand Up and Scream, melds rocktronica with melodic metal and deathcore, and crash-landed the band on Hot Topic shelves as poster boys for ADD-riddled metal outcasts. They upped the ante on 2011’s more metal-driven Reckless and Relentless, which cracked the Billboard Top 10 and spawned the disturbing short film, Through Sin + Self-Destruction, which features a trio of scathing tracks from the disc.
They didn’t abandon their electronic roots, however, and quickly followed it up with Stepped Up and Scratched, a remix album that featured re-workings by dubstep, industrial and electronica producers, including Tomba, Borgore and Sol Invicto. They’ve already recorded most of the tracks for their much-anticipated follow-up, which is due in September.
“It’s a much more mature album for us,” Bruce says. “We’re not the same angry people we were. But it’s really, really heavy. We’ve put more into it and we’ve grown up as people. It’s more melodic and catchier, but it’s heavier than anything we’ve done, in my opinion.”
In addition to the new album and the current Mayhem tour, Bruce is working on a solo album as well as an animated series based on the exploits of his band. The son of two artists—his dad worked on the popular British claymation series Wallace and Gromit—Bruce is in talks now to get his series rolling.
“It came naturally to me,” he says of animation. “I had to pick music or art in school and I picked music, which has worked out. But (art) was a big part of my past, and it looks like it’s going to be a big part of my future as well.”
But music remains his top priority, and the fact that he’s surrounded by metal royalty all summer has him laser-focused on making sure his band not only meets, but exceeds, the grand expectations of legions of horn-thrusting headbangers.
“It’s a dream come true,” he says of Mayhem. “Slipknot has been one of my favorite bands since I was 11 or 12-years-old. And Slayer, Motorhead, and Anthrax are just legendary, man. Without bands like them, there wouldn’t be bands like us around. It’s just a huge honor.”
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