ASKING ALEXANDRIA, BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE Fighting For The Next Generation
March 4, 2016, 2 years ago
As the staff at BraveWords continues to grey, pushing and/or crossing the half century mark, who will triumph the up and coming bands? On paper, I'm old enough to be most of these kids' father and still have concert tees purchased before some of these guys were born! "Why not check out the ‘new blood’,” was my thought, especially since these homegrown darlings of the notoriously fickle UK music press are not regular visitors to these shores.
Asking Alexandria were touring in anticipation of March 25th release of The Black, their fourth album, but first with newbie singer Denis Shaforostov, aka the anglicized Denis Stoff. We've got Baby Metal, so why not Boy Band Metal? What do the One Direction pre-teens graduate to? Well judging from the heavier than normal contingent of females in this rock/metal crowd, it's bands profiled by mags like Outburn, Alternative Press, Revolver, et al: occasional heaviness achieved via a mix of death growls & breakdowns, offset by clean vocal, melodic sing-alongs, sampled piano and plenty of obscenities.
In business, they call it a soft opening. Here, the band comes on, no audible instruments, and sings along with the crowd, to start “I Won't Give In”. The first of several death growls crept into “Run Free”. It's amazing that a band would invest so much into portable, onstage lighting, a rig of multi-colors behind each musician, then insist on such unfriendly choices for the initial three songs (read: photographic wash-out reds) while people at the front are attempting to visually promote their career. Think about it.
The guitarists frequently swap sides of the stage, each outfitted with a riser, at the edge of the stage, on which to elevate. Singer Stoff throws himself around, cathartic and un-choreographed, like a child's ragdoll tumbling in a dryer, flopping to & fro, landing awkwardly. There was the purple begun “Closure” and Stoff got the front third of the general admission audience to crouch on the ground, before leaping, as one. Claiming the Tri-state area is a second home, founder/guitarist Ben Bruce introduced the paradoxically orange lit “The Black”, saying "Want to see you punching people in the face, drinking beer, having sex...whatever you do to have fun." The last song, appropriately entitled “Final Episode (Let's Change The Channel)”, utilizes blinding green light, eventually replaced by purples and blues, before ending in a tracer fire of pulsating reds/strobes.
Really irks me that people shout "Bullet" as the properly monikered Bullet For My Valentine waited to come onstage, after an introductory “Ace Of Spades”, by Motorhead. However, most probably have no idea there's a great traditional metal act, from Sweden, called simply Bullet (check 'em out), not to be confused with an ‘80s German outfit of the same name. With short hair, frontman/guitarist Matt Tuck looks like the love child of Green Day's Billie Joe and comedian Jerry Seinfeld. Tonight, the unassuming lad wore a backwards ball cap and leather jacket. Both were dispensed with, after second song, “Skin”, returning in sleeveless black tee. The still of a black stage is broken by military cadence drum beat and streaks of white light, heralding the crowd sung “Your Betrayal”. There's much here for old school metalheads to like, sights, sounds and demeanor. When it comes to full on aggression, they offer “You Want A Battle? (Here's A War)”, the bastard child of Pantera.
A "gateway drug," kids cutting their teeth on heavy sounds that are safe, within the popularity of their peer group. Depending upon the importance music will play in their adult life, as they get older, some will gravitate to other, heavier, bands. Only question, who will that be?