Best of 2016 Playlist

March 21, 2016

The Word Alive - "Dark Matter" Review

Fearless Records is hitting fans hard this month with new albums from Tonight Alive, and now The Word Alive. Their 4th album is the band's "Sempiternal" (if that helps you understand the weight of this album), blowing expectations away, and seriously upping the ante. To buy "Dark Matter" on iTunes please click this (link). 

The Word Alive returned in Janurary with the record's lead single, "Trapped" and cemented their status as one of the leaders in modern metal. The following singles, ("Sellout", and "Made for This") each showed fans the band were changing it up for their 4th album. Testing new waters, and new styles, everything's looking up for the Arizona based band. This is definitely the band's most mature album. Smith nails his lyrics, writing raw and personal songs that fans will enjoy.

Incorporating alt. rock, nu metal, hardcore punk and various other genres into this "new" sound. It's a bit jarring for fans at first, but those who are open to the "experimenting" will find something to enjoy in this record. It seems the natural progression from their past albums. Slowly incorporating other genres of rock rather than continuing with the straight forward metalcore. 

Opening track "Dreamer" starts the album on a softer, and slower note. It's not exactly a filler track, but it doesn't garner any special praise But what it really does well is transition into "Trapped". And that song is by far one of the strongest from the record, let alone from in general. A perfect example of how the band's new tastes are paying off. 

But there are times in this record where the band's more alt. rock approaches don't quite pay off. "Face to Face" and "Insane" are both songs that could do with some octane, because they drag their feet trying to be anthemic. For "Face to Face", it's more of a transitioning song to bridge the gap between "Trapped" and "Sellout". It's got its heavy moments, but doesn't jar fans after "Trapped". Still, it leaves something to be desired. 

"Suffocating" is a toss up. It sounds too much like a Bring Me the Horizon track. But the times when it doesn't the song is superb. It's just a matter of looking past the similarities and enjoying the song for what it is. A great alt. metal track that also happens to use electronics and piano to provide the melody of the song. 

Fans get a surprise guest spot from Beautiful Bodies frontwoman Alicia Solombrino. The two sets of vocals pair quite nicely, give "Piece of Me" a leg up over some of the other tracks. The raw emotion you get is uncanny. The song's soft intro last for about 20 seconds before you're hit with high electronics and a deep bass and guitar riff. The electronics are then turned up during the bridge, when Alicia gets a chance to sing. The only complaint is that it would have been nice if they could have let Alicia do more than just the bridge. 

The record's title track brings the band back into metalcore territory with prominent use of unclean vocals again. The only other song on the record that really stays true to the band's metalcore roots is maybe "Sellout". The rest of the record moves closer to alternative metal, and arena rock. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing. But a good breakdown every now and then doesn't hurt. 

Smith's unclean vocals have returned to their former glory, no longer high pitched and to an extent whiney. However, his clean vocals are the spotlight. This record gives him a change to show off his full range, and giving listeners some serious chills. The only drawback to the ever impressive clean vocals, is that you may find yourself wanting more screams. Like on track "Made This Way". The majority of the song is clean. Which is nice, but adding another screamed verse would have given the song that much more of an edge. 

This album shattered expectations for the band, and brings The Word Alive to a new level. From the massive choruses, to the killer riffs, and Telle Smith's unrelenting lyrics and screams, this is just a great album through and through. It's definitely something to get used to, but once you do this album will become a favorite. TWA retains their metalcore stylings, but provide listeners with a fresh take on the source material. Recommended for fans of sleepwave, letlive, and We Came as Romans

Favorite Tracks - 
"Sellout" is the top track. But be sure to listen to the title track, "Grunge" (taken straight from the 90s, and mixed with industrial metal), "Piece of Me", and "Branded

Rating - 8.5 to 9/10