Overall Score: 7/10 Song Writing: 8/10 Originality: 7/10 Overall Production: 7/10 Pros: It gives the fans more of what they want. There's also a nice element of story telling in the vocals. Cons: New Devil feels out of place within the slower songs. Can be argued this was released too close to the full length, discounting it in many ways.
Life is a succession of lessons. Things to test and shape us as we move through our various chapters. Through periods of doubt, we surprise ourselves with an increasing wealth of resiliency. It’s during one of those moments of hesitation Asking Alexandria released their new EP Never Gonna Learn.
The British quintet’s offering is compiled of two tracks from last year’s See What’s On The Inside album and two new tracks. Releasing an EP so close to a full album can discount the quality of material which came before. Asking Alexandria seek to tread that line and not fall on the side of error.
Staring an EP with a collaboration is a bold move. The nature of New Devil lives up to this boldness with its heavy riffs from Ben Bruce and Cameron Liddell along with thunderous drums from James Cassells. “I’m gonna lose my mind again” Danny Worsnop muses from the depths of paranoia in a verse many of us can relate to. The chorus is a magnificent call to arms with soaring vocals which cut to the bone. This track is testament of Asking Alexandria’s ability to create a crushing song while maintaining an element of vulnerability. It’s when Maria Brink (In This Moment) floats into the periphery things fall to the wayside. Her ethereal vocals are a joy to listen to but don’t necessarily fit the requirements of the song. To the point Worsnop downscales his delivery to accommodate the second chorus. An odd choice considering what a powerhouse Brink can be.
The message of the EP becomes clouded as it winds on. With the heavy nature of the opening track, you would come to expect the rest of the record to follow suit in one way or another. In terms of the sound, it doesn’t. What follows are three despondent tracks flowing the veins of ballads. A disappointment in ways but a message within itself. That isn’t to say this EP is monotonous. It’s simply an EP to listen to when you seek to find some catharsis.
It’s in this catharsis frustration can breed. Toward situations, feelings, outcomes or lack thereof, and ourselves. “How many times do I have to learn my lesson before I learn my lesson” from the title track is an exquisite show of that bitterness. Nestled within a memorable cadence, the verses feel as though Worsnop is reading excerpts from our own thoughts. The muted drums simulate the feeling of being stuck within the cycle of internal monologues drowning out the world around us. Find Myself plays into the circling of the drain. It toys with the sense of running on fumes sitting against the fullness of a numbed soul. “I just want to find myself again” pierces the heart with lyrical content alone. Find Myself blooms into magnificent sadness and large instrumentals as Asking Alexandria languishes at rock bottom. The strings which close offer a crossroads. Will the protagonist dwell within their sorrow or dust themselves off for another round?
There’s no denying life’s tribulations hold a host of inspiration for a band to explore. Recorded during the sessions for previous album Like A House On Fire (2020), Miles Away is a wistful note to a soul no longer with us. What Asking Alexandria do with this song is demonstrate not all loss needs to be loud and aggressive. As time passes so does our anger. Making way for longing which only comes from grief as we move through life. This is a letter no one wants to write but too many of us have. The bed of piano and guitar melodies hold life’s biggest milestones in the saddest of cradles. So much so that the isolated vocals toward the end of the track tug at more than just heartstrings.
While this EP will serve wonders for Asking Alexandria fans, it’s difficult to see its purpose. It tells a wonderful story about how deep mental health can take us. Yet the album before it did the same. The edge New Devil cast ahead of itself became dull and hazy. In terms of fan service however, the decision can’t be faulted.
Never Gonna Learn is available now via Better Noise Music.
For more information on Asking Alexandria like their official page on Facebook.