August 31, 2010 - Fearless
The Word Alive have certainly taken a hard road to get to the point of releasing their debut album, Deceiver. The metalcore group were started back in 2006 as a side project by then-Blessthefall singer Craig Mabbitt. The group soldiered on until, frustrated at not being able to tour and record until their frontman had some time off, the other five members booted Mabbitt out, replacing him with the former bassist for Greeley Estates, Tyler "Telle" Smith.
Thankfully, these trials haven't hurt the band one bit—in fact, they sound almost stronger having gone through it. The relentless drive of so many of the songs found on Deceiver have an urgency and added aggression to them that would make many of their peers recoil out of fear.
But like so many of the bands that truck in this genre, what makes the Word Alive so compelling is how they are able to expand upon the template of chugging guitars, double-kick pedal blasts and a back and forth between grunting and cleaner vocals. For this group, it would appear to be the influence of keyboardist Dusty Raich. His ringing chords and melodies that waft under the maelstrom like dry ice smoke heighten the emotions within these already intense songs. Elsewhere he throws in the warping, wowing bass sound pulled right from a dubstep 12-inch, or pulls the curtains back to reveal the mechanical drum machine heart that beats at the band's center.
Just as they set themselves apart from the pack, the Word Alive also manage to fall into the same clichéd trap that befalls so many great metalcore records. On a pair of songs (the loping love song "You're All I See" and the chest-beating "Dream Catcher"), the boys dim the lights and lay on the glassy guitar lines and moody lyrics spelling out some internal struggle. It's an attempt to show some kind of range, but comes off as vapid, especially when they try and tack on an aggressive coda that does nothing to wash away the sour taste. There's a lot of power in what this band creates; they just need to embrace it and leave the soft sentiments to others.