As we all grow up in life, things change. Our lives change, our tastes change, our perspectives change, and what we generally want for ourselves often changes. In this ongoing process of maturity and moulding of our true selves, if we look back, the shifts we’ve made are far more apparent. It’s normal then for a band to follow a similar pattern; the people that compose a band are, of course, people too. They want to create new things. Evidently, ‘Dark Matter’ is a product of The Word Alive‘s maturity.
With 2014’s ‘REAL.’, the Arizonian quintet made some pretty clear indications that they were aiming to go down a more melodic route. The Word Alive have always had a knack for their chorus hooks and towering call-to-arms refrains, a strength that really came to light with sophomore LP ‘Life Cycles’, but until ‘REAL.’ this was regularly accompanied alongside brute roars and crunching distorted chords. However, the likes of ‘Lighthouse’ and ‘Runaway’ on their last record, though admittedly catchy, almost completely cut out any trace of metal and instead replaced it with some chunky cheese.
Thankfully, the band have managed to master the craft of offering more melody for ‘Dark Matter’, and right off the bat first track ‘Dreamer’, easily the cleanest album opener of the band’s career thus far, offers a subtle look into the path that The Word Alive aim to walk down. ‘Suffocating’ and ‘Insane’ follow a similar route, still bringing to the table a positive message of self-belief, and are no doubt built to be staple live favourites. Curtain closer ‘Oxy’ is a definite highlight too; when the chorus drops the chords crush whilst the vocals serenade.
It’s not a complete abolishment of The Word Alive we’ve all come to know, though. Single of choice ‘Sellout’ sees frontman Telle Smith deliver some career best screams, whilst we really get to see drummer Luke Holland display his capabilities. ‘Grunge’ is another grinder and, whilst there may be some implication that there’s a Nirvana and Pearl Jam-esque twist present in the track, we actually see axe-men Zack Hansen and Tony Pizzuti enter the borders of djent territory.
Whilst the realisation that The Word Alive that we came to know with ‘Deceiver’ and ‘Life Cycles’ is slowly being left in the past, the allure of where the band will be steering from here is more promising than it has ever been. This is a product of maturity, and the most dynamic and confident the band have sounded. In regards to survival against their contemporaries, this band is very much alive.
Written by Zach Redrup (@zachredrup)