February 17, 2020 The Word Alive – MONOMANIA (Album Review)
Two years ago they delivered some Violent Noise into the world, and now The Word Alive is ready to celebrate a contagious case of MONOMANIA. Fearless Records issues the genre-defying disc on Friday, February 21st, 2020.
Arizona’s The Word Alive formed in 2008 and dropped their debut disc, the explosive Deceiver, in 2010. Throughout the past decade, the band has consistently matured their sound with each new release, from 2012’s Life Cycles to 2018’s aforementioned Violent Noise. With their total streams surpassing 120 million, the band has continued to soar to new heights over the past few years, certainly not hurt by their frenetic live shows and dogged dedication to the road. Touring the globe, the quartet has shared stages with everyone from Parkway Drive to We Came As Romans.
For album number six, The Word Alive – Vocalist Telle Smith, Guitarists Tony Pizzuti and Zack Hansen, and Drummer Matt Horn – are prepared to practice some MONOMANIA. Produced by Erik Ron (Godsmack, Motionless In White), the 12-song collection sees the band continuing on the trajectory laid out in Violent Noise, and officially waving sayonara to the generic Metalcore designation. Utilizing elements of Metal, Hard Rock, Pop Rock, and R&B to create a signature sound that utterly defies genre, they fashion a grandiose sound that takes all of their previous work to the next level.
MONOMANIA opens to album namesake “MONOMANIA,” with cinematic synths anchoring the backbone of a track that introduces The Word Alive 2.0. The band’s previous growth continues here, making epic strides as Smith taps into the smoothest, most refined qualities of his voice (think “Why Am I Like This?”) as his bandmates continue to fire on all cylinders. Traveling from soaring melodies to gritty frustrated howls, “MONOMANIA,” apropos of its title, is apt to inspire fixation in its listeners.
Opening with more of a Pop Rock feel, “NO WAY OUT” builds into an emotional rocker, the type of which The Word Alive are master craftsmen. Next, an inspired look at reaching the pinnacle of your potential, sweetness twinkles in the opening notes of “SEARCHING FOR GLORY” before the bass kicks in and the band digs deep into this anthemic motivator that will light your inner fire.
A languid sonic daydream steeped in synths undulates across the raw pain of “ANOTHER YEAR IN THE SHADOWS,” the struggle to love someone who is entirely emotionless. Meanwhile, Pizzuti and Hansen’s rousing guitar work caresses the multiple layers of the bittersweet bop “Greatest Almost” before they amp back up into the venomous sarcasm of “Thank You.” One of the album’s full-throttle bangers, this track is aimed right at fans of the heavier side of The Word Alive.
Picking up where the stand-alone single “Misery” left off, the languid electronic atmospherics of “NUMB LOVE (MISERY II)” fit perfectly into this eclectic mix. Similarly, they initially turn more toward Pop Rock for “K.F.” before Smith’s smoky smooth vocal theatrics build toward frustrated screams and thunderous guitars from Pizzuti and Hansen. This continues into the infectious wall of sound of rocker-stomper “BURNING YOUR WORLD DOWN,” before they go for heady emotions and lush cinematics on “COMFORT & CHAOS.”
Echoes of “Why Am I Like This?” permeate the core of the exceptional confessional “I’M SORRY YOU’RE SORRY NOW.” Taking full blame, feeling shame, Smith pours his soul out with a deliciously infectious R&B cadence in a stand-out that proves The Word Alive can do anything. All this before they go out with the poetically verbose title (which we love) “DEATH IS ONLY THE END IF YOU ASSUME THE STORY IS ABOUT YOU.” Blending pulsating bass and twinkling guitars with dreamy synths to create an alluring soundscape as a haunted Smith fights to recover his broken heart, the track ends a stellar album on an exceptional note.
On MONOMANIA, the extremes of The Word Alive’s craft are more exaggerated: the heaviness is at its pinnacle and most powerful, while the melodic moments take on an even loftier quality. A refined take, this album is apt to convert new fans while continuing to delight their hardcore fan base, because it’s at both times the band’s most accessible work and one of their most blistering.
With exceptional growth from Telle Smith, who is flawlessly supported by his talented bandmates Pizzuti, Hansen and Horn, The Word Alive has managed to author a collection that is cinematic and heartfelt, grandiose yet nuanced. Appropriately obsessed, Cryptic Rock gives MONOMANIA 5 of 5 stars.