When We Are Harlot frontman Danny Worsnop announced his departure from metalcore outfit Asking Alexandria, it’s safe to say that part of the ‘fangirl’ community went into meltdown as one of the most well-known metal vocalists of modern day decided to finally move on. His new project, the classic rock-oriented We Are Harlot, has just released their self-titled debut album, but is it any good?
The record opens in powerful style on Dancing on Nails, as Jeff George’s distorted riffs accompany synths and Worsnop’s raw, recognizable voice. “You’ve got something worth exploring” he sings in the chorus, his vocals flittering between soaring wails and classic rock howls. As the song builds up in terms of intensity, a hair metal-by-numbers solo enters the frame as George shows us how many frets there actually are on his guitar. DLT (which stands for Dirty Little Thing) follows the same classic rock route, channelling elements of Steel Panther and Def Leppard as Worsnop sings about his “dirty little thing”. “I know you don’t want it, but you need it” he howls before the chorus in very standard hard rock style. DLT, for the most part, follows the same lyrical topic as the rest of the album – women. Regardless of the song, Worsnop has something else to say about women, whether it being his conquest for one or what he wants to do to them. Jeff George shines again towards the end with a solo that leans towards Guns ‘n’ Roses, before Someday slows the pace slightly. This one is tailor-made for your classic “lighters in the air” moment, particularly emphasized by the subtle strings in the background. Bruno Agra’s bass drum keeps pace in the verses, before the chorus lends itself perfectly to a Nickelback support slot. It’s a very standard sounding ballad, which is a shame as they could’ve done more to make it exciting. Album highlight Denial follows with an opening piano line, accompanied by pounding guitars and drums. It’s the most exciting song on the record, not slowing down for anyone or anything once its intro finally morphs into the rock behemoth it really is. Denial features some of Worsnop’s best vocals, even leaning to Asking Alexandria-style growls in certain places. “The love for you I feel, digging deeper and deeper again” shrieks the charismatic frontman, before Easier to Leave’s opening drum break is accompanied by a showtune-esque piano ditty. “I can’t help but needing more” enthuses Worsnop as he starts to sound needy about his woman, claiming that “it should be easier to leave” as George enters the frame with another trademark 80s solo. Handclap beats in a brief breakdown give the track a little bit of hope, yet it’s relinquished once the song resumes regular service.
One More Night sees We Are Harlot go an extra bit heavier with a dark riff accompanying powerful, upbeat drums and vocals which carry an extra sense of urgency. It still retains its metal cliché’s though, as Worsnop references whiskey, cocaine and women. It sounds almost contradictory though, with the frontman having another stab at metalcore growling not too dissimilar from his work with Asking Alexandria. One More Night is on par for the best track on the album, alongside the equally exuberant and powerful Denial. Never Turn Back is another attempt at the heavier side of hard rock, as dark and gloomy verses intertwine with a radio friendly chorus. “She’s not an angel, but she takes me somewhere very close to heaven” sings Worsnop ahead of another solo from the technically skilled Bruno George, by far the most talented member of We Are Harlot. Recent single The One goes down the borderline sexist path, with its accompanying music video being this month’s “Trigger of Choice” for feminists the world over. The song itself is fantastic though, with its opening riff and almost danceable beat converging to form a catchy whole. Love for the Night speeds to pace up again as the seldom-seen piano makes a comeback alongside a wah-wah intro and more whiskey and cigarette references, before penultimate track Flying Too Close to the Sun finally makes good use of bassist Brian Weaver, as a catchy bass riff enters the frame from the off alongside powerful guitars and near-screamed vocals from Worsnop which sound almost as if the whiskey and cigarettes are finally taking their toll on his vocal chords. The song bears one of the catchiest choruses on the album, as a final push sends the track into chaos ahead of album closer I Tried. I Tried is the slowest song on the record, and one which sees Worsnop declare, “it’s goodbye my love”. It does make us question one thing though – does I Tried reference his (then impending) departure from Asking Alexandria? “I’m sick of all the screaming, the way I’ve been feeling” he sings, adding fuel to the fire as people question whether or not I Tried is his love letter to former bandmates Ben Bruce, James Cassells, Cameron Liddell and Sam Bettley. It’s a serene ending to an album which either peaked very high or stooped considerably long.
One thing people ought to keep in mind is that We Are Harlot are more than just “that band with the guy from Asking”, though. We Are Harlot may not be the most unique or original band of all time (in fact, they’re also around 30 years late), but it doesn’t mean that they’ve just put out a strong debut record which should eliminate all the “side project” labels it previously held. We Are Harlot have a long way to go, but it’s a good start.