The Word Alive screams their way to victory with their 2012 album titled “Life Cycles.” Previously a successful pop-punk/post hardcore band, The Word Alive (TWA) has nearly switched genres with the departure of their keyboardist and drummer, Dusty Riach and Justin Salinas, confirmed in Feb. 2012. The product, “Life Cycles,” is a combination of an aural assault of metalcore and a horrorcore sheath of goose bumps.
While TWA’s generally uplifting lyrics do not change much from their former releases, their music has made a drastically shocking transition into sounding much like the “Zombie EP,” a very heavy and well-critiqued metalcore EP by The Devil Wears Prada released Aug. 2010.
By far the most notable aspect of Life Cycles is its digression away from mediocre keyboard accents and transition into digital sound incorporation. The album’s 13 tracks feature a vast range of embellishments including techno riffs, eerie bell chimes and dubstep breakdowns.
Bolstering Zach Hansen’s clever lead guitar, rhythm guitarist Tony Pizzuti utilizes incredible 16th-note guitar picking, rivaling the esteemed musical technicality of today’s biggest metal artists.
Vocalist Tyler “Telle” Smith has greatly increased his vocal range in this album. He often contrasts visceral screams laid over brutal verses and harmonized melodies in catchy choruses. But the choruses typically end in turbulent breakdowns, of course.
While tracks on the album may sound similar, they are not redundant. The unique digital additions are likely to astonish listeners and leave them staring at their speakers in a daze.
In the metal and hardcore genres of music, this album is a breakthrough of both creativity and intensity.
From the gate, “Life Cycles” sprints at full speed with track one, “Dragonspell.” Ineffable digital sounds layered with yelled mumbles swell into a screamed breakdown behind a dream-like solo guitar and a rapid rhythm guitar. The album keeps a driving pace until the very last track, when it finally tires. Each song contains consistent amounts of both electric guitar and the china cymbal, metalcore’s magic ingredient.
One thing that is absent from this album that TWA’s previous album, “Deceiver,” showcased is a powerful and progressive track that rises in intensity until it explodes and thrives at full force.
The progressive track from “Deceiver,” titled “Dreamcatcher,” is poorly imitated by the new release of “Astral Plane,” the last track on “Life Cycles.”
The first 12 tracks on Life Cycles truly epitomize the pinnacle of creativity that party favor-fueled rock stars strive for. That being considered, the failure of “Astral Plane” is trivial in comparison.
The most notable song on the album is titled “Entirety.” While the track is much more poppy than the rest of Life Cycles, it yields some of the most intelligently written guitar tracks.
Telle Smith sings, “You’re all I have and I haven’t trusted anyone/(I’m) finding out feeling isn’t easy,” in this intricately weaved love song. One of the softer tracks off of “Life Cycles,” “Entirety” is likely one of the better choices for those who are not accustomed to hardcore music, widening the range of audiences for the album.
Artist: The Word Alive
Album: “Life Cycles”
Label: Fearless Records
Release date: July 3, 2012