Review Summary: After 2012's "Life Cycles" was a favorable effort from The Word Alive, they build upon it and show they're getting better every day.
The Word Alive, a post-hardcore group from Phoenix, Arizona, are undoubtedly a talented act among their peers. The strong balance of clean and unclean vocals from the always reliable Tyler Smith allows guitarists Zack Hansen and Tony Pizzuti, drummer Luke Holland and bassist Daniel Shapiro to all follow suit. First time listeners may find them to be a lot like the other cookie cutter metalcore bands you see on Fearless Records, but just give them time. They'll grow on you. 2012's "Life Cycles" boasted a lot of what makes this group who they are, and "Real." is no different.
It's hard to not resist the catchy hooks of opening track "Play the Victim." The instrumentation is flawless on this track and it pays dividends when coupled with Smith's alluring screams. Tracks like "Lighthouse", a lyrical call to arms, are a little more simplistic, though simplicity works here too. Smith certainly has the pipes, and with a competent drumming execution from Holland, not to mention audible bass, the album stakes it claim from the opening handful of tracks. "Never Forget" puts Smith's in your face uncleans on display and it's a sight to behold.
"The Fortune Teller" gives the listener a vibe that manifests serious similarity to Woe, Is Me (a defunct metalcore suit from Rise Records.) Hansen doesn't pull any bells or whistles with his riffing. He just lets his guitar work keep the song going without trying too hard to be flashy and impressive. The group as a whole doesn't try to over-impress with their qualities. They just come in and get the job done. Smith's vocals are solid on "The Fortune Teller", as well as tracks such as "Your Mirage." "Your Mirage", one of this album's standouts, is a little experimental. It doesn't sound like the album's other tracks, though it hardly goes too far astray.
The Word Alive's third full-length draws to a close with "Collapsing", which starts off with some easy flowing riffs from Hansen and Pizzuti. Then Smith closes out a superb album with another strong vocal job. Needless to say, I was very impressed with "Real." I am very anxious to see if The Word Alive can top this.