If you’re a metalcore fan and you’ve been paying attention to the genre for the last few years, the chances of you knowing about The Word Alive are pretty high. Hailing from Pheonix, Arizona, they’ve been grafting since 2008 and haven’t showed any signs of slowing down in 10 years. They’ve had their fair share of hurdles to leap over, most recently in the form of line up changes, but that hasn’t stopped them from returning to the studio to make their 5th full length Violent Noise. And let me tell you – this record is both violent and noisy in all the right places.
Let me start by saying that this record isn’t all anger and aggression. This is just as catchy and uplifting as it dirty and violent, and the entire album is a well balanced blend of both sides of the band. Tracks like Red Clouds and Stare At The Sun demonstrate that perfectly, effortlessly swapping between punishing riffs and melodic choruses. The breakdown in the latter is so filthy you’ll feel like you need to shower when it’s over, but the chorus is so squeaky clean that it washes away the dirt for you. I Fucked Up is another perfect example of the blend, featuring a radio friendly chorus (well, apart from the obvious swearing) that eventually leads you towards a disgustingly low and heavy pit starter. Not every song is balanced, though. Some songs start on one side of the fence, occasionally kicking their ball over and waiting for it to be swiftly thrown back over. Others stay on their side of the fence, occasionally getting “can we play” getting yelled over at them. My Enemy is a good example of that. An aggressive, pummelling track full of enormous guitars and venomous vocals with a catchy chorus thrown in to provide you with a breather. I Don’t Mind screams out for crowd interaction, overflowing with hooks and groove from beginning to end with the occasional splash of heaviness for good measure.
Some of the best songs on this album, and I never thought I’d say this, are the tracks that steer clear of aggression and screamed vocals completely. They almost aren’t metalcore tracks, they’re like heavier pop songs. And I mean that as a compliment – they’re so well composed. Lead single Why Am I Like This? is a perfect example of this. It’s immediately catchy and just continues to hammer out hooks as it progresses, latching onto your brain tighter and tighter as it goes on. Real Life does the same, utilising a pop like structure to it’s advantage with a gigantic chorus and impressive vocal melodies from start to finish. This record is modern metalcore executed with absolute precision. Violent, noisy and often beautiful precision.
Violent Noise is a very well named album, as it accurately describes its contents. The music is constant balance shift between melody and sheer aggression, creeping in and out of the foreground at all the right times. The vocals follow a similar pattern, with Telle Smith utilising his clean or screamed vocals whenever the music demands it. They’ve used every tool at their disposal when it came to the songwriting, and it’s made the flow of the album really smooth and effortless. It is undoubtedly the best they’ve sounded so far in their already impressive career. This is a catchy, punchy, energetic blinder of an album. It’s grabbed me around the throat and demanded I listen up. I’m listening. You should too.