The Word Alive has probably been my favorite up-and-coming band I’ve ever come across. I’ve always enjoyed discovering bands when they are young and watching as they progress, put out new songs, get signed, put out an album/ep and eventually go on tour. Its like watching something grow. Sometimes they exceed your expectations and sometimes they fail to reach them. After Craig Mabbitt left blessthefall he joined The Word Alive, while, simultaneously, filling in for Ronnie Radke in Escape the Fate. He and TWA wrote and recorded 5 songs (although I think they only released 3 of them), which were some of the best songs I’ve heard in a while. Craig then made the unfortunate choice of joining Escape the Fate full time (in which he helped put out a terrible album This War Is Ours). This really bummed me out because I wanted more music from these guys. They had created some amazing music in their short time together and I desperately didn’t wanted them to follow in the footsteps of Comerica (A local band that was excellent, check out their myspace and listen to Breather…fantastic). I wasn’t to thrilled when they filled the vocalist spot with Tyler ‘Telle’ Smith. I didn’t think he could live up to what Craig had created…. and to be quite honest, he didn’t live up to what Craig had done.
He blew it out of the water.
By no means is this a strike against Craig. I think Craig is one of the best vocalists out there at the moment (Personally, I think he needs to be in something heavy, not this garbage ETF is putting out.) Telle does a fantastic job of filling the hole, and he has definitely found his home. He seems like a terribly nice guy, who truthfully loves his band. Sounds cheesy, I know, but that counts for something in my book. They all seem to be great friends and have a great chemistry together…and you know what? They make damn good music.
Enough of the ‘back story’, on to the review.
The Word Alive‘s debut EP is another post hardcore record that features both clean and screamed vocals, winding guitars, plenty of double bass and a keyboard. Tons of bands follow this formula, but The Word Alive is able to create something catchy, heavy, fast, emotional and epic…all at the same time.
Empire is another one of those ‘genre-bending’ releases, except they do it right. This album truly sounds different with every song. How many other metalcore albums can claim this? “The Only Rule Is That There Are No Rules” is breakdown filled and heavy throughout, whereas “Quit While You’re Ahead” sounds like a metalcore version of an Emerosa song. In a scene that is vastly overpopulated, The Word Alive brings us a handful of fresh sounds in this EP.
Tyler ‘Telle’ Smith is fantastic on vocals. A great singer and strong screamer (backed by guitarist Zack Hanson and Tony Pizzuti), Telle has finally found his home in a band. Guitars are amazing throughout, consisting of complex riffs and shredding solos, while also using some generic open-stringed breakdowns, which do not overpopulate the album. Excellent drumming by photographer Tony Aguilera (you can see some of his stuff here), but a special mention to keyboardist Dusty Riach. Bands are finally starting to realize that keyboardists can actually add some strong elements to a song. Dusty’s keys add that little extra spark to make this album stand out.
The standout track on the album is their new mix of Casanova Rodeo. I say this because it is clear that this song wasn’t written at a different time, by a different person (being ex-vocalist Craig Mabbitt). The song is also the simplest song on the EP, as well as being the most catchy. If you were a fan of TWA with Craig, this song will most likely disappoint. Although Telle does the best to make it his own, he shines on the other 5 tracks.
For a band who has put out only one, 6-tracked EP, The Word Alive has already made their way into the scene. Empire is an incredibility strong first release for the band, which shows expectational promise for the future.