December 5, 2014 The Word Alive stun New Jersey 11-25-14 w/ The Color Morale, Our Last Night, The Dead Rabbitts, & Myka, Relocate
It is near impossible to deny the power and visceral impact that accompanies an authentic, take-no-prisoners Metalcore show. The Word Alive are no strangers to this, and have yet to disappoint with energy or ferocity. Well into “The Get Real Tour,” they and fellow touring bands The Color Morale, Our Last Night, The Dead Rabbitts, and Myka, Relocate dished out enough brutality to last Starland Ballroom the winter on Tuesday November 25th. Mere days before Thanksgiving, this crowd may not have been prepared for the relentless barrage of gutturals and breakdowns they inevitably endured.
Beginning with two New Jersey locals, Born a New and Bad Case of Big Mouth, the former wasted no time marking their territory. The band came prepared, strapped to the proverbial teeth with enough sampled bass drops and groovy breakdowns to interrupt a pacemaker. Consisting of two guitarists, a vocalist, and a drummer, they were the first in a line of many to cause several mosh pits to erupt. This was an ominous premonition, considering there were six bands after Born a New to take the stage. These prophesies were fulfilled when Bad Case of Big Mouth climbed aboard. The viewers’ interests became piqued as their vocalist Tyler began visibly doing calisthenics minutes before their performance. Bad Case of Big Mouth were easily the most interactive with the crowd. They had a certain charming pop-punk allure that enticed the the audience. The party the six men on stage were having was palpably infectious and caused the entire venue to join in on the fun.
The first touring band to perform was Myka, Relocate from Houston, Texas. Comprised primarily of weight and angst, Myka, Relocate sported a style of Metalcore akin to Of Mice & Men and Issues. John Ritter and Michael Swank shared vocal duties. The vocal interplay between Ritter and Swank was near flawless. Ritter’s lows were throat-shredding and Swank’s highs were exultant. It was fantastic to see how well Myka, Relocate’s energy was communicated to the audience as they played songs like “Dead Ties,” “Useless,” and”Admitting the Truth.” There was a clearly resonant connection between the musicians and the crowd, which paid off exceptionally.
Next on deck was The Dead Rabbitts, who were arguably the heaviest band to perform that night. Led by Escape the Fate’s Craig Mabbitt on vocals and TJ Bell on bass, the supergroup is rounded out by former Greenley Estates guitarist as well as Rob Pierce on drums. Seeming as if all hard feelings are water under the bridge between Mabbitt and his former bandmates in The Word Alive, fans were grateful to see them touring side by side in their respected bands. Spending as much time as possible touring in support of their debut album, Shapeshifter, The Dead Rabbitts were ready to take over Starland Ballroom. There was a prevailing aura of Deathcore that possessed the stage as they approached and began with their first song of the night, “My Only Regret.” The extract of Despised Icon that The Dead Rabbitts seemed to initially summon was diluted with catchy hooks and personality exhibited by tracks like “Nothin but a Reject” and “Bats in the Belfry.” The latter, as well as their closing track “Deer in the Headlights,” began a trend of constant crowd surfing right until the end of their set.
It was clear that the floodgates of crowd surfers opened by The Dead Rabbitts remained open throughout Our Last Night’s set. After some lineup changes early on the band took shape in 2006 with Trevor Wentworth (vocals/guitar), Matt Wentworth (vocals/guitar), Alex “Woody” Woodrow (bass/vocals), and Tim Molloy (drums). After extensive touring in support of their 2013 EP Oak Island, a few months ago the band returned with a brand new EP titled Oak Island Acoustic. The Post-Hardcore act from New Hampshire had no problem keeping a venue full of Metal fans intimately invested in their much more melody-centric approach to Rock. Our Last Night seemed to push the crowd as far as they could by daring to cover Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse,” which was certainly a highlight of their set, showcasing their meticulous compositional care. This is not to say that they are incapable of playing heavy, however. They kept a healthy balance between heaviness and gloss throughout as “Sunrise” followed with “I’ve Never Felt This Way” closing their set.
At nearly the exact moment that Rockford, Illinois’ The Color Morale took the stage, the crowd exploded into a giant circle pit. Formed back in 2007, the founding members Garret Rapp (vocals) and Steve Carey (drums) are completed with Aaron Saunders (guitar/vocals), Devin King (guitar), and Mike Hoson (Bass/vocals). In support of their latest album, Hold on Pain Ends, they supplied a flavor of Metalcore that would feel incomplete if not supplemented by a comfortable dose of moshing.
The vibes of classic ‘90s Metallic Hardcore in the vocals of Rapp, the macho breaks, and the sanguine lyricism demanded the attention of the hundreds of fans from all over the state of New Jersey. The performances of songs such as “Smoke and Mirrors” and “Suicide;Stigma” demonstrate their competence with orchestration. Skillfully overlapping hooks and breakdowns in itself is a rare feat, let alone retaining the organic feel present on record. With The Color Morale’s closing two tracks, “Prey for Me,” and “Strange Comfort,” it was obvious how in control of Starland Ballroom they had become. In is no wonder this band continues to rise in popularity among the scene with their adrenaline packed delivery.
One would think that by 11:00 PM and after six demanding Metalcore bands, the audience would be exhausted and their energy depleted. This was not the case. In fact, by the time The Word Alive took the reigns, it seemed as though the crowd was just getting warmed up. Formed in Phoenix, Arizona back in 2008 the band originally featured Mabbitt on vocals, but soon after switched to Telle Smith before the recording of their debut EP Empire (2009). Now three full-length albums deep into their career with the most recent release of Real, The Word Alive have grown exponentially over the years as a band and in the rankings on the scene.
Opening with new track “Broken Circuit,” the band operated in a very calculating manner, and the rhythm section was particularly tight-knit and mechanical. The Word Alive’s entire performance stressed the singularity of the group; they performed their songs as one unit such as to rival the likes of Djent acts. Beneath Smith’s soul-piercing highs along with Zack Hansen and Tony Pizzuti’s monumental guitar tones, there lay a distinct emotion clearly displayed through songs like “Lighthouse” and “Life Cycles.” Although The Word Alive did not frequently speak with the audience as had previous acts on the bill, their music acted as a surrogate communicator with which each fan in the building sympathetically responded. Their set ended with each teen and young adult’s hunger for escapism satiated and his or her aggression quelled during encore of “2012.” The emotion put into the music performed that night was equaled only by the quantity of heat energy expended by the fans, and The Word Alive fed off that emotion in a spectacular way. With just one week left in the tour it would be the perfect adventure for an fans of extreme, heavy, and emotional music.