April 30, 2018 The Word Alive – Violent Noise (Album Review)
Are you hungry with need for a good eargasm? Well, prepare for some Violent Noise thanks to The Word Alive, and it all arrives on Friday, May 4, 2018, thanks to Fearless Records.
Formed in 2008 in Phoenix, Arizona – and for a hot minute fronted by Craig Mabbitt (Escape the Fate) – by 2010, The Word Alive were releasing their debut full-length disc, Deceiver. Impressively, the album would go on to hit No. 97 on the Billboard 200, leading the band into their bright future, and onward to release three more albums – 2012’s Life Cycles, 2014’s Real., and 2016’s Dark Matter – over the next six years. Of course, no band these days seems to be immune to line-up changes and yes, The Word Alive has had some, including the 2016 departure of Drummer Luke Holland, and the 2017 mutual split with Bassist Daniel Shapiro.
Known for their energetic live performances, unwavering dedication, and dogged determination to the road, The Word Alive has performed as far away as Hong Kong, Taipei, and Bangkok, and has shared stages with the likes of Motionless In White, The Devil Wears Prada, Escape the Fate, We Came As Romans, Memphis May Fire, Fit For A King, Bleeding Through, Parkway Drive, and many, many more. As one might guess, they are, in fact, veterans of that Punk Rock summer-camp known as the Vans Warped Tour.
Prepping to drop their fifth full-length, The Word Alive – Vocalist Tyler “Telle” Smith, Guitarist Tony Pizzuti, and Guitarist Zack Hansen – might be down to a threesome, but they are more massive than ever on the 12-song Violent Noise. Produced by From First To Last’s Matt Good (Asking Alexandria, Nekrogoblikon) – who also produced 2016’s Dark Matter – the album sees the band at their most personal, crossing-genres fluidly and continuing to refuse to be pigeon-holed.
Violent Noise kicks off to the massive layers of “Red Clouds,” inspired by Vocalist Smith’s drives in the desert on Red Cloud Road, traveling between California and Arizona in search of his Rock-n-Roll dreams. Djent-y bass-lines that slam home some serious aggression anchor the track, an explosive search for meaning in life. This paves the way for the infectious first single/video, “Why Am I Like This?,” a more languid experience that seeks to feel alive, and beautifully highlights Smith’s soaring, melodic vocals.
Asking Alexandria’s Danny Worsnop guests on the multi-layered pummeling of “Stare At The Sun” (“Maybe I’m naïve… I just laugh as I stare at the sun”), where magically glittering guitar work anchors the backdrop of a confessional celebration of fumbling towards ecstasy. Next, the catchy, emotional laments of “I Fucked Up” (“This is for every time that I fucked up, didn’t believe I was enough”) admit that Smith has messed up – a lot, apparently – but he won’t give up.
If you have struggled with depression, The Word Alive wants you to know that they hear you! Meandering atmospherics weave throughout the core of “War Evermore,” a truly sincere and empathetic (“Some people say that it’s the coward’s way, they don’t know what it’s like to feel this pain”), hope-fueled, anti-suicide offering that declares war on the emotional isolationism of mental illness.
Continuing on a similar wavelength, Smith goes for the personal and candid on “Human” (“I always make things worse… I’m lost, I’m found, I’m human”) an admission that he is cursed with humanity and is, thus, flawed. The result here is a track that dips into some heavy atmospherics, creating an emotional intensity that befits beautifully the guest rap of Sincerely Collins. It is more radio-friendly than we’ve seen The Word Alive previously, but it’s still very much The Word Alive: catchy, candid, and crushing.
The guitars perfectly echo the vocals of rocker “I Don’t Mind,” a catchy plea for freedom that echoes back toward 1990s Alt Rock, sonically speaking. Similarly, they search for an electrifying high (the legal kind, fools!) on “Real Life,” a straight-up rocker that begins with some ‘80s-dusted synths. Of course, you can never keep a good thing down, so The Word Alive return to massive, multiple-walls of (gentler) sound on the guaranteed sing-along “Lost In The Dark,” the floundering search for better-ness.
If heavy is what you seek, The Word Alive have you covered with “My Enemy,” a return to Djent-y bass explosions that attack the curse of fear and the persistence of time. There is a slight pause for breath before the boys tackle “Run Away,” a melodic rocker, fraught with some stellar guitars, that wishes to escape it all but never forget. Meanwhile, the melancholy angst of “Lonely” meanders and explores different feels throughout, ending the collection with some grungy, reflective moments.
Whether he is screaming or singing, Smith is always on-point throughout the entirety of Violent Noise, as are bandmates Pizzuti and Hansen. While, in some of their best moments, The Word Alive are a barrage of sound, a violent but delicious noise, they amplify their talents with sincere, heartfelt lyrics that show empathy and struggle; a beautifully honest humanity. Ultimately, it is all wrapped up in a package that refuses to sit and conform to any one sound, instead weaving together Rock, Metal, and everything in between to create a categorization that is solely The Word Alive. This is one angsty commotion that you have got to hear! Spreading the word, CrypticRock gives The Word Alive’s Violent Noise 4.5 of 5 stars.