As one of the heavier acts of the post-hardcore scene, Asking Alexandria had a lot to live up to after their incredibly brutal debut Stand Up And Scream. And although the band’s followup sophomore album favors a little more melody in conjunction overwhelming amounts of screaming and ruthless breakdowns, Reckless & Relentless is a more complex, artistic and all-around superior album filled with compelling music that still manages to bring the same aggression and intensity. Frontman Danny Worsnop impresses with his dual vocals as he provides fury in ferocious and gruff screams and strained composure in his clear-cut clean vocals. As Worsnop instantly switches back and forth between bloodcurdling screams and enjoyably Brit-infused clean vocals, Ben Bruce and Cameron Liddell supply blazing guitar riffs that call to mind classic rock ‘n’ roll, which combine with James Cassells’ unrelenting drum-pounding and Sam Bettley’s underrated bass hooks to give Asking Alexandria some ass-kicking backdrops and breakdowns. With its greater emphasis on musicianship and more intelligently written music that doesn’t stray too far from their own downright wicked post-hardcore style, Reckless & Relentless is easily the band’s best and most engaging work yet.
“Dear Insanity” follows an instrumental intro and kicks things off on an fervently fast-paced note with Worsnop’s fierce bellows leading the way. Cassells exerts a tremendous amount of energy on the drums while the frenzied guitar riffs lend to the song’s heavy nature. However, this leadoff track also shows the band’s greater sense of balance, as the thrashing and violent verses give way to synth-friendly and more upbeat choruses enhanced by Worsnop’s satisfyingly resonant singing.
The majority of Reckless & Relentless boasts the same harsh post-hardcore formula, but “Someone, Somewhere” is a lighter single more tailored for hard rock radio than anything else. Without savage roars bogging him down, Worsnop delivers his best vocal performance of the album with crisp and enjoyable crooning. The classic rock ‘n’ roll guitar riffs are at their finest here, reinforcing Worsnop’s brilliant and invested vocals without dominating them, while the steady drumming adds rhythm to this catchy and unique track. Hardcore fans might not connect with this one as much, but the diversity and melodic touches this song brings to the album are welcome and likable additions, highlighted by the heartfelt chorus: “Even though I’m on my own / I know I’m not alone / ‘Cause I know there’s someone, somewhere / Praying that I make it home.”
Although “Someone, Somewhere” gives a pleasant glimpse at the band’s lighter and catchier side, “Breathless” returns to true Asking Alexandria form in all its savage breakdown glory. Any song that starts with Worsnop’s battle growl of “Get the f**k away from me!” is sure to be a heavy piece of post-hardcore joy, but this dose of brutal guitar chugging and rapid-fre drumming is the best of Reckless & Relentless. Its breathtaking breakdowns make this an aptly named song, as this hard-hitting track packs the power of a punch to the stomach.
With severe post-hardcore verve and a developing sense of artistry, Asking Alexandria create a dynamic and aesthetically pleasing album with Reckless & Relentless. Although the heavy and brutal nature of the band’s music likely won’t appeal to more casual rock fans, hardcore moshers will flock to this album for its ear-jolting riffs, pulsing drumming and Worsnop’s impressive ability to juggle both ferocious roars and appealing clean vocals. In addition to the standout tracks, songs like “To The Stage” and “Another Bottle Down” showcase this bands compositional talent, as captivating bridges filled with violins, piano, adamant drumming and sharp guitar-chugging. Fans of The Devil Wears Prada, We Came As Romans, Attack Attack!, Of Mice & Men, Blessthefall and I See Stars will be right at home with Asking Alexandria, and will eagerly await this band’s next release after this terrific sophomore album.
Final Score: 8.5/10
Rank: 1st (two total albums)
- Dear Insanity
- A Lesson Never Learned
- To The Stage
- Someone, Somewhere
- The Match
- Another Bottle Down
- Reckless & Relentless
- Morte Et Dabo