Arizona’s The Word Alive proved with 2012’s ‘Life Cycles’ that they had the chops to write something that was both catchy yet maintain some of the technicality they shown in brief moments throughout ‘Empire’ and ‘Deceiver’. With album number three bearing the title ‘Real’, it’d fair to say that with such a strong statement would come such a strong progression in identity. Sadly, this is still yet to be found in what is a mundane sidestep.
The opening trio of lead single ‘Play The Victim’, ‘Never Forget’ and ‘Broken Circuit’ certainly sets us on a misleading path that what we have here could be the band’s strongest release to date. All three portray everything we know of The Word Alive so far, but with almost every aspect pushed up a notch.
It is, however, when we reach the cheese fest that is ‘Lighthouse’ that things start to spiral down at an alarming rate. We all know from previous efforts that The Word Alive have a real knack for bringing a strong call-to-arms track to the table with a positive message. ‘Lighthouse’ really takes it to another level, bordering upon cringe at so many moments.
From here on out, ‘Real’ is sadly littered with tracks that are either hit or miss. ‘To Struggle And Claw My Way’ and ‘Glass Castle’ both have all the qualities of some of The Word Alive‘s best work, and ‘The Runaway’, though not holding too much replay value, sounds like what ‘Lighthouse’ strived to be.
The worst part is, ‘Real’ holds so many shining moments that prove that, in terms of musicianship and songwriting, The Word Alive have never been better. Zack Hansen and Tony Pizzuti‘s fretwork has never been more impressive, and Telle Smith‘s vocals are at a career best, both with his cleans and harsh ranges. The problem is that ‘Real’ on occasion feels a little restrained and safe. It might not be until album number four that we finally see a fully fledged The Word Alive.
Written by Zach Redrup (@zachredrup)