Asking Alexandria - Stand Up And Scream
Asking Alexandria brings a lot to the table in terms of creativity and technique, but is that enough to balance out generic lyrics and the overall feeling that we've been here before? Is Stand Up and Scream the swan song of post-hardcore music, or does it give haters another reason to call an end to this genre beloved by a diverse generation of the new millennium?
Perhaps the biggest selling point for Stand Up and Scream is that there has never been a harmony of singing and screaming executed so well. Essentially, there are 3 layers of vocals, each accompanied by a different sound. The most basic layer is good old fashioned singing, albeit a slightly higher pitch. Not quite on the same level as Alesana, but definitely distinct. The background is typical screamo fare; crisp guitar to contrast the pitch of the vocals, while maintaining its own sound. Our second layer of vocals is what you'll find in any screamo band's arsenal; the high-pitched screaming. Asking Alexandria doesn't tamper with the formula, but the way they transform their sound at the drop of a dime is nothing short of spectacular; like seeing Halle Berry's boobs in Swordfish. The tempo drops off significantly, but the range of guitar stays virtually the same. Finally, the third layer is perhaps the most difficult yet instantly the most recognizable in the entire universe. Deep growling is made all the more difficult by the demand for near perfection from the entire band. If the drummer relents even a little bit, or if the guitarists are off by a tenth of a second, the entire section loses its intensity.
Sadly, there are some instances where the band falters just enough to notice it, but by no means does it detract from the impact left by giving this album multiple listens. I might as well say it now, since you've probably been waiting for it. The lyrics are about as original as the Twilight saga. I know that lyrics can give great meaning behind songs, and completely transform the way you listen to a particular band, but to be totally honest, lyrics do not make or break an album. Lyrics are like sprinkles on a cupcake. If the sprinkles seem a little out of place or don't really add anything to the overall taste of the cupcake, you're not going to throw the cupcake on the ground stomping on it screaming about how terrible it is. Chances are, the sprinkles aren't included in the essential ingredients of a cupcake, just like lyrics aren't essential to a song. I commend Asking Alexandria for at least writing something to sing about, lord knows how boring this album would have been as an instrumental.
So there we have it. I spent the entire review writing about one aspect of the album. Bet you didn't see that coming. But I'd like to be serious for just a moment and really express how much I enjoyed Stand Up and Scream. The techno beats included in a few key songs were like finding $100 bills in Easter eggs. I never would have thought a band would be that adventurous. Also, there seems to be a shortage of screamo bands that carry the intensity and energy of heavy metal without sounding like Bring Me the Horizon. I did find fault with things other than the lyrics, but I know that people out there like this band for those specific reasons. Telling people they are wrong for liking a certain aspect of a band is not what music is about. Music is about camaraderie, bonding over similar tastes in music, sharing a connection with a band you've followed since the very beginning and cupcakes. Don't forget the cupcakes.
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