Eternally ToughBy Dan MacIntosh
Asking Alexandria is billed as one of the top headliners for California Metalfest VI, a multi-act celebration (also featuring Killswitch Engage) of heavy music scheduled to pulverize San Bernardino Nov. 24. But don’t expect the same old rehashed heavy metal riffs from this adventurous British act. For instance, a song like “Closure,” from 2011’s Reckless & Relentless, stealthily mixes electronic musical elements into a solid metal foundation, and creates something unique, yet still strangely familiar.
“I think music is something you can’t limit,” guitarist Ben Bruce explains, “whether it’s metal or blues or jazz or electronic music. It got to the point where metal, in particular, was getting stale to me. But you’ve got to overstep some boundaries and make some leaps, like when the Scorpions or Metallica did shows with a full orchestra. That was awesome! It was inspiring. It was thinking outside the box. And I think adding electronic elements to music—to metal music in particular—is another step in the right direction to creating a sort of new sound in metal again.”
Asking Alexandria will be making its own musical leaps at Metalfest, a huge, all-day festival that goes far to prove metal’s enduring popularity. While the struggling American economy has stunted its growth, and even forced cancellation of some touring festivals, metal at times appears to be impervious to economic woes. Much like the steel it’s named after, metal is simply time-tested and eternally tough—perhaps even recession-proof?
“I think, honestly, that metal is one of the most honest genres out there at the moment, in terms of mainstream appeal” Bruce says, when asked to comment on metal’s continuing popularity. “You can listen to pop songs, and they can be good songs, real catchy and make you feel good and you may want to sing along for a while. But they don’t really bear much substance a lot of the time. When you look at the genre of rock or metal, it really resonates with people. There are a lot of pissed-off, angry people out there that are struggling, and this metal provides them with a raw energy and an aggression and an outlet. You can go to a rock concert, and honestly let your hair down and anything goes. You just go for a good time. You can just thrash around, jump around. Everyone’s there for the same reason and there’s just a really cool energy that a lot of the other genres don’t get. Whether it’s heavy metal, where there [are] circle pits and mosh pits, or even if it’s, like, a classic rock band, everyone’s wailing lyrics at the top of their lungs and the whole aura of a show like that is just incredible.”
While Asking Alexandria vocalist Ben Bruce admits that Asking Alexandria has allowed its partying inclinations to get a little out of hand now and again, he doesn’t believe marijuana should be restricted, whether it’s being used for medical or recreational purposes.
“I don’t smoke weed personally, I never really have gotten into weed,” Bruce says, “but I never would have made it illegal in the first place . . . I think it should be legalized and people should just be able to smoke it. For a lot of people, it does calm them down and help them with anxiety and stress. And some people just like to do it recreationally to calm down and chill out for a little bit. I don’t see why it’s such a big deal.”