Given how 2013’s ‘Real’ went off with more of a whimper than a bang, many would be forgiven for dismissing The Word Alive as dead in the water. After all, their lower-tier metalcore peers have been having a rough time as of late. But instead of being complacent, the Arizona mob have weathered the storm and emerged with ‘Dark Matter’, an album that is, by a country mile, their best to date.
Going by this evidence though, it would be pretty inaccurate to describe them as a metalcore band anymore. Instead, ‘Dark Matter’ sees The Word Alive home in on uber-slick arena rock with a thin outer coat of metalcore, a style that fits them like a brand new pair of skinny jeans. ‘Face To Face’ and ‘Oxy’ swirl with a power and grandiosity hitherto tapped into, while ‘Piece Of Me’ packs in more of a shade of My Chemical Romance-style theatricality.
There’s still plenty of razor-edged ferocity though, such as ‘Grunge’ or ‘Sellout, the latter of which becomes especially effective with Telle Smith’s paint-stripping screams. The only problem is that these moments can occasionally drift perilously close to devolving back into metalcore banality, as in the tepid ‘Made This Way’.
In reality though, ‘Dark Matter’ marks a bold new chapter for The Word Alive, one where their “pretender” tag is ditched in favour of something much more representative of this newfound greatness. Because for an album that sheds any much-maligned genre tropes in favour of a genuinely exciting, melodic sound, there can’t have been many who’d have thought it’d be The Word Alive to pull it off.
‘Dark Matter’ by The Word Alive is released on 18th March on Fearless Records.
Words by Luke Nuttall (@nuttall_luke)