Review Summary: Waiting for, waiting for, ascension.
With every passing album, The Word Alive continue to simplify their sound, and like many bands that spawned from the early 2010’s metalcore scene, they continue to go the more accessible route. 2014’s Real
. saw a major shift in the band’s sound from the rooted metalcore sound that put the quintet on the map to a more tamer post hardcorish sound, with new drummer Luke Holland adding a bit of a progressive element with his very technical over the top playing.
With Dark Matter
, the band continues to simplify their sound. The trendy breakdowns were left off the album for the most part, same with vocalist Telle Smith’s screaming vocals, although to a lesser extent. The quintet puts more of an emphasis on clean and catchy melodies and electronics this time around. Also the almost lack of solos from guitarists Zach Hansen and Tony Pizzuti and the (what very much seems like) restricted Luke Holland makes for an overall dull listen. The album opens up with “Dreamer”, a track that features the same electronic soundscapes the band has always toyed with, but this time it’s a central aspect of the track, as well as other tracks on the album. The albums second single, “Sellout”, showcases the bands new found maturity as song writers. Everywhere you expect a breakdown on the track, the band throws this pummeling riff at you instead. The same can be said about the albums first single “Trapped”. The title track sees Telle screaming with a completely different delivery from what is heard on the ten tracks prior to it, a very welcome deviation from his normal style, and Luke Holland showcases his immense talent with a flavorful tom rhythm during the verses.
The track “Grunge” sees The Word Alive exploring grunge by incorporating slightly grungish sounding guitars and a Jerry Cantrell influenced riff. The track loses this vibe when the band transitions into another generic core chorus. Most of the hooks just seem formulaic at this point. Choruses in tracks like “Face to Face” and “Made This Way” have been done a million times at this point by countless other warped tour-core bands and even The Word Alive themselves and it’s just become redundant at his point. It also doesn’t help that the hooks are borderline cringe inducing on various tracks. On the track “Insane”, Telle breaks out his inner scene kid, chanting “Were all insane, in a beautiful way”. The band also takes many plays from the Bring Me the Horizon playbook. The first minute of “Suffocating” wouldn’t have sounded out of place at all on Sempiternal
, while Alicia Solombrino’s feature on “Piece of Time” makes the track sound like a There is a hell…
So how does Dark Matter
feel as a whole" Well, despite its flaws, it’s actually a fairly cohesive project, and the tracks flow together quite smoothly. No track really over stays its welcome, although the band constantly looking for their next “Life Cycles”-esque anthem to end their shows with with each passing chorus can become tiresome at points. It may be a minor step back from its predecessor in terms of quality and replay value, but it’s not hard to tell that the band has matured as song writers since then. Dark Matter
seems like the growing pains of a band trying to change its sound, if ever so slightly, leaving the taste of anticipation in the listener’s mouth for whatever the band decides to do next.