I was introduced to The Word Alive when I saw them open for Alesana in 2010 and was extremely impressed by their purely energetic performance. This was one of those bands where I saw them live but never bothered to look them up. They had me by the throat during their performance, but there weren’t any bruises left behind to remind me of their set. In other words, they were awesome live, but they didn’t have any qualities that made them stick in my head when I got back home. Sometime last year I was flipping through the Fearless Records roster to listen to any bands that I may have missed. The Word Alive was the last band on the list and the one I had overlooked. Here is the magnitude of this band’s music: by the time the first song was HALF over, I had already come to the conclusion that this was the best screamo band that I’d heard since I first discovered I am Ghost in 2007. After over a year of procrastinating, I feel that I am now able to put my opinion of this record into text.
I wish I could talk about each song individually because every single track on this album is unique and contains its own special sound. But since I don’t do track-by-track reviews on full-length albums, I’ll just talk about my favorite song off this record, The Hounds of Annibus.
One thing that’s hard to find these days in screamo bands is a good vocalist. There are so many screamers out there in the screamo and metalcore world that are just…well…really bad (to put it nicely). I’ve just become so worn out from these shitty and occasionally edited vocals in bands like The Devil Wears Prada, Beneath the Sky, I Killed the Prom Queen, Haste the Day, I the Breather, Vampires Everywhere, Enter Shikari (yes, I know they’re not screams, but they suck and don’t match the music), Abandon all Ships, and plenty of others. But The Word Alive is a COMPLETELY different story. This long-haired guy can not only belt out a demonic growl that’s deep and powerful enough for death metal, he can also let out one of the best screams the genre has to offer. Yes, he is up there with Spencer Chamberlain and Austin Carlile. The singing is above and light-years beyond amazing. That’s all I can say about the singing because it’s one of those “you have to hear it for yourself” kind of things.
I can’t really pick out the guitarists and bassist because they’re so fucking TIGHT! I’ve never heard a screamo band this tight in my LIFE. I’ve actually taken the time to listen to this album with extreme focus to try to find even ONE time where ANY of the musicians fall out of time. I did that twice and came up empty-handed. That in itself is saying something pretty damn huge. Yes, these guys play screamo and love breakdowns and keyboards in their music, but they actually take the time to PRACTICE their music and make sure that it’s the best it could possibly be. And to be honest, they might be setting bar a little too high with this record. Right after I finish writing this review, I will write a “part 2” review which will be on their brand new album, Life Cycles.
So we have above and beyond quality vocals, amazing guitar solos, precision bass, where else to go than up? Well they went up alright; the best musician in the band is the drummer. Although I’m not a drummer myself, I know very well how difficult it is to stay EXACTLY in time for the entirety of the song, especially when there’s an extremely complex double kick pattern that you have to keep up with as well as what you’re doing on the top of the set. Not only can he double kick EXTREMELY fast with great complexity, he never gets tired and is always doing some blasting fill whenever he can without overdoing anything. There’s one thing that can for-sure cause a band to fall apart: a bad drummer. If you have an extremely solid drummer like this guy, it makes it much easier for the rest of the band to stay tight because they follow the drummer closely, trusting that he/she won’t fall out of time.
Ok, so the thing about The Word Alive’s music that sets them apart from a lot of screamo and metalcore is that their music has an incredible amount of power and emotion. There are several bands out there like Hopesfall and Alexisonfire that have the good solid base, but almost completely lack any sort of emotion or flavor. The Word Alive’s music has a sound that’s epic enough to be compared to some symphonic metal bands, more power than HamerFall, and one of the most skilled, talented, and creative musicians that I’ve ever heard in the screamo genre. I would give this album a perfect score and would tell everyone to look up THE HOUNDS OF ANNIBUS before anything else!