Review Summary: A new metalcore sextet with flashes of brilliance, The Word Alive (or simply TWA) finds notice with a commendable first release.
Deceiver is nearly generic by all means, but generic by that of the more impressive metalcore acts of today. Heard-before breakdowns, simple choruses and melodies, and speedy verses are all here. What’s difference is the unique combination of styles. They use The Devil Wears Prada-esque breakdown foreshadowing, deathcore-y speed drumming, metal solos, and an uncanny talent for an eerie ambience. Instrumentally, not one member lacks the requirements of sounding par for the genre and some of them succeed more than others. Tyler “Telle” Smith makes his mark as a distinguishable vocalist singing AND screaming, which has become increasingly difficult with the new wave of “core” bands in the rock subgenre. He appears with great background, but little as a vocalist. He played bass for Greeley Estates & clean vocals for In Fear and Faith. Now as a lead vocalist, he commands the role with presence and skill.
The guitars play a pivotal role, by Zack Hansen & Tony Pizzuti. They show a talent that no normal metalcore act can mimic, and make a great name for TWA. The bass plays as Waldo as usual, but does an acceptable job of strengthening the rhythm. The drummer has a different take on metalcore, adding a flare of thrash & groove at the same time (The Hounds of Anubis, and Consider It Mutual respectively). This doesn’t persist, as he isn’t given much room between breakdowns and his frequent double bass verses, but definitely has a refined potential to offer. The most hit-miss performer on the album is Dusty Riach, the sometimes-too creative keyboardist. His noticeable presence isn’t definitely a good thing and I can’t say it’s always bad. But there are many areas where he could have done something different, or just not have done anything at all. I’ll let you find your own examples, because Riach is the belligerently obvious one to find in a sad number of circumstances.
The overall deliverance of each song serves its due purpose with respectable success. It opens up with the powerhouse track that most fans are very familiar with, The Hounds of Anubis. Some songs don’t deliver as well as this but if the band can find a way to make the songs carry the same force that Hounds does, they will surely break ground into the ranks of bands like TDWP, WCAR, and OM&M with their own special sound to offer. They also have multiple ballad-like songs, which go in order: miss-hit-miss. Consider It Mutual and You’re All I See don’t move me at all, but give or take any metalcore fan and you’ll get a mixed result. Dream Catcher has a monumental vocal performance, showing the keenness of Smith’s vocal range and has formidable instrumentals, thus serving it’s correct purpose as a ballad. Yet generally, the songs have a good mix of a clean feel along with an influencial heavy vibe. Songs like Hounds, Epiphany, The Wretched, 2012, and We Know Who You Are make sure that you know The Word Alive is a contender in the “core” scene.
The bonus tracks offer a robust array of heavy tracks, along with two uninteresting remixes. I’m not a fan of remixing songs unless they’re already R&B or Rap. I’ve not seen ONE remix in anything but those two genres be notable achievements by any band. Lights & Stones and Apologician fit surprisingly well for a re-release, and impress enough to not be filler. Lights & Stones has a killer chorus, and great melodies and breakdowns: an overall great song. Apologician is a fine moshing song, whose lyrics sound more “badass” than anything, and therefore is a fan favorite. It is decent as well, but Lights takes the cake for me. There’s little to tell about the cover songs, except for the added flare with breakdowns and metalcore-induced melodies/solos. Over The Mountain was completely desecrated, and shouldn’t have been covered in the first place…by ANYONE. Heartless is a song that I can now stomach, all credit to TWA.
Clean Vocals (Tyler “Telle” Smith): 7.5/10
Screamed Vocals (Smith): 8.5/10
Guitars (Zack Hansen & Tony Pizzuti): 8/10
Bass (Nick Urlacher): 5/10
Drums (Justin Salinas): 7.5/10
Recommended Tracks: The Hounds Of Anubis, Epiphany, The Wretched, Dream Catcher, 2012, and Lights & Stones.