Review Summary: After establishing their Empire, The Word Alive has gone and created a masterpiece of a debut album that is sure to be one of the top albums of the year. The Word Alive is able to create an amazing uniqueness not typically found in their genre.14 of 15 thought this review was well written
The Word Alive has been one of my favorite bands since their formation. After releasing songs like “The Devil Inside” and “Casanova Rodeo” I was hooked. After their change in vocalists from Craig Mabbitt to Telle I was unsure of what would come of the band. Thankfully with their first EP Empire, I was assured they had not lost their talent. The Word Alive treads in the familiar and over burdened path of hardcore, metalcore or whatever else you want to call it. But the creative spark and originality that The Word Alive gives their music really provides something to the genre worth listening to. Its not that they don’t have a lot of breakdowns because they do. But The Word Alive is able to craft everything about the genre into a perfect listening experience. The Word Alive is able to yet again blow my mind as well as many others with their new release “Deceiver”.
The bands first three singles begin your journey through the album. Deceiver hits hard right off the bat with "Hounds of Anubis". The band displays on this opening track that the mood of deceiver will be much heavier and dark. The guitars are now tuned to drop C instead of D. This naturally makes them heavier. The band also displays their originality right here with some "Egyptian influence" in the song. This influence gives the song a cool feel to it without overpowering the song. Next on the line up is one of my favorite tracks on Deceiver, “Epiphany”. “Epiphany” retains the heaviness of the starting track but is extremely catchy. The song continually comes back to the chorus which will have you shouting along to every line. They display their amazing aptitude for catchiness again in the chorus of their next song, “The Wretched”, which is sure to get you chanting “We won’t follow the Deceiver” by the end of the song.
Another point that I would like to stress out about Deceiver is its newly found prominence on keys, synths and other electronic touches. The Word Alive's previous release also did a substantial job of incorporating synths, but with Deceiver Dusty’s playing has been taken to a whole new level. For example "Like Father Like Son's" main instrumental focus is on the synths and dub step. “2012” also brings Dusty to the forefront with a futuristic sonic effect. But even with the perseverance of dub step and keys it does not take away from the song. Dusty also creates terrific atmosphere in smaller fills, such as in the end of “Epiphany”.
With this album the band even made their first song with absolutely no screaming, “You’re All I See”. Although I have found this to be the weakest song on the cd (and with a 5 rating on the album that doesn’t mean its bad), I find it a very interesting addition. Telle’s soft vocals really shine in this song and the subtle and quite guitars and drums give a huge contrast to the rest of the album.
The fan favorite "Battle Royale" from The Word Alive's previous release makes reappearance on Deceiver. It returns revamped and re-recorded and it made a substantial difference. The song has the new more heavy feeling that the rest of Deceiver has, but remains just as epic as the original version. On this song in particular it is noticeable that Telle's cleans have gotten deeper then in previous recordings. This is because the guitars are tuned a step down. To be honest I am a tad bit disappointed by the absence of Telle's high vocals in the new version of "Battle Royale". But that is a small price to pay for such a terrific re-recording of Empire’s best song.
The drums and bass are concise and consistent throughout the album. It is good to see that the new drummer Justin Salinas was a competent replacement for the previous drummer, Tony A. Justin’s double bass is relentless throughout the whole record. His fills provide a superb variation. He shines on “Epiphany” and “Hounds of Anubis” and pretty much the rest of the record at the fast and heavy parts. As with most bands of this genre Nick’s bass is kept for the most part in the background of the music. Not to say that it isn’t audible and have its moments, but for the most part he is keeping up the tempo of the song.
Zach and Tony shred on guitar… period. Their riffs provide a monstrous highlight for the album. Their teamwork in providing unique and original riffage truly set them apart from all the other dull and bland bands out there in this genre. Some of my favorite guitar riffs can be found in "Battle Royale" and "Hounds of Anubis". They also play softer guitar beautifully in songs like “Dreamcatcher”. This song can in spirit be considered a follow up to “Are You on Drugs?” from their unreleased EP. They even have some solos like the one in “Battle Royale” which are intricate and unique.
After listening to this album I would find it hard to believe that anyone with adequate hearing could say that they prefer Craig over Telle. Telle is an amazing vocalist and is able to really add a level of sincerity and talent to the music. His voice fits the music perfectly, whether he is throwing out a low growl during a breakdown or is singing clean with his soaring voice. Zach and Nick also provide great high and low back ups that provide beautiful layers to the vocals. The lyrics to the music have general upbeat themes of unity and faith. Telle’s vocals really provide something to this scene of music that most bands seem to lack. That something is meaning. Telle’s lyrics read like a poem and all have great meaning and purpose. He really has a message he wants to convey to the listener.
One of the only disappointing aspects of Deceiver is The Word Alive’s surprisingly poor choice of guest vocalists. To be quite honest the guests have absolutely no impact on either song and both vocal parts could have been done by Telle. In fact I am unable to even tell where the guest vocals are. This is obviously a small issue with me that doesn’t really take away from the music. I just feel that next time around The Word Alive should pick better guest vocalists and really draw from the talent of others and not just incorporate them for the point of incorporating them. Some may feel that breakdowns are overused in this album but I feel that they incorporate the perfect amount of breakdowns and present them with the uniqueness one comes to expect from The Word Alive.
The Word Alive chose a perfect song for the closure to Deceiver, "We Know Who You Are". This final song provides perfect closure while also leaving the listener anxious for me. Right from the beginning Telle sucks you in with a bellowing line screaming "You're ***ing Fake!” This song displays not only that The Word Alive's guitars are amazing, not only that Telle's vocals are far from average, not just that the drums and bass are always on cue and not only that Dusty's synths and electronics create an interesting atmosphere but this song truly shows The Word Alive's ability to create a perfectly structured song that can be described in one word, Epic.
All in all, this album has only heightened my opinion of The Word Alive. They care about their fans, their live shows have great energy and their songs are flawless. The Word Alive has only begun their journey to the forefront of the music scene. The band has already covered a lot of ground in just two years. Deceiver is filled with energy and highlights around every corner. Although I would definitely recommend all ten of these tracks to everyone my three favorite tracks would have to be :“Battle Royale”, Epiphany” and “We Know Who You Are”. The Word Alive have shown the world through this album that they are a one of a kind band with a tremendous amount of talent that no one can deny.