June 10, 2014 - Fearless
It takes serious swagger to be a modern metalcore/post-hardcore band who drop a record called REAL.—a musical shot across the collective bow of fellow contenders and also-rans alike—and Phoenix quintet the Word Alive back up the insinuation with a shock-and-awe barrage of blast beats, blazing guitars and perhaps most crucially, a formidable array of razor-sharp hooks. Sure, the core foundation of Real’s 12 songs is the kind of chugging, scream-grunt-sing fare we’ve heard ad nauseam, but the group push beyond genre limitations through the sheer force of their musicianship and Telle Smith’s caustic and expansive vocals, elevating tracks like “Glass Castle,” “Terminal” and “To Struggle And Claw My Way” beyond the technical reach of most players. Blessedly, the songwriting chops are there too, and here the band are no less diverse in repertoire; there’s everything from the churning rhythm of “The Runaway” (with its shades of My Chemical Romance) to the towering chorus of “Light House” to the dizzying array of tones, guitar licks and tempo changes of the slow-building closer “Collapsing.” As the title suggests, REAL. is the genuine article.