The Word Alive

Empire

Written by: BL on 18/12/2009 21:00:08

One thing the so called "scene" does very easily is the ability to give any band hype of almost meteoric proportions, at least within the scene still. The Word Alive are probably the biggest personification of this fact seen in recent times. Initially the side-project of ex-blessthefall vocalist Craig Mabbit while he had just joined Escape The Fate full time, the band created a huge stir having only a handful of (if you ask me, phenominal) demos. At their infancy they combined the raw (and at the time still fresh) screamo metalcore edge blessthefall had with some scorchingly technical instrumentation the genre rarely saw. However things weren't meant to be with Craig, who eventually departed the project and interest started to wane. Enter former In Fear And Faith vocalist Tyler "Telle" Smith to take over and now the band is ready with their ambitious debut EP "Empire".

I've always been a fan of Tony Pizzuti and Zack Hansen guitar work from the band's inception, but these guys have brought some seriously fiery lead and rhythm work to the table. Make no mistake, some of the stuff they crank out are amongst the most impressive guitarwork within the genre. The drumming from Tony Aguilera and bass from Nick Urlacher are accomplished and varied for the most part to keep up the chase while Dusty Riach's keyboards are an essential component the band can't do without. The biggest surprise perhaps lies with Telle though for his remarkably improved (since his In Fear And Faith days) clean vocals, catchy and soaring while his low end growl is monstrous. It must have been difficult for him because the weight of expectation after someone like Craig Mabbit leaves (who complimented the band so well musically) must have been big - and yet he delivers a great performance.

Not forgetting this is a debut EP, then at the very least it's easy to be taken back initially by the production values and the whole "grand" nature of it all as well. Everything is tight to perfection, the instruments are razor sharp and clear while the Telle's vocals are polished to shine in their presentation. You may argue that such (over?)production is a bad thing, but if you consider the caliber of quality these guys have then you'd accept it's part of a realisation of a sound far more accomplished than the millions of wannabe peers in the most overcrowded scene, and who will never make the grade.

In a way it's good knowing then that The Word Alive is also not a finished product either. Despite the huge progression of sound from the material they wrote with Mabbit to the songs you will hear on this EP, you know that there is still more to come. For a start these guys write such intricate songs, sucessfully marrying gorgeous post-hardcore textures with dissonant and unrelenting galloping metalcore guitars while threading keyboard runs and melodic ambience inbetween. Yet because of this very makeup things do get a little frantic at times, the opener "Battle Royale" is a great song in many respects but for the unprepared can seem like a chaotic disarray of sound. Once you've got to grips with the what these guys have to offer though, underneath all the clutter and effects lies some great tracks to sink your teeth into. And for fans of Mabbit's demo songs, "Casanova Rodeo" has been re-recorded with Telle (albeit not as good in my opinion) and "Can't Let Up" has been re-lyric-ed and renamed into "Inviting Eyes". Simply put, if you like post-hardcore or modern metalcore - this is an EP that should definitely warrant a listen to see past the hype.

Download: Battle Royale, Quit While You're Ahead, How To Build An Empire
For the fans of: Blessthefall, The Color Morale, In Fear And Faith
Listen: Myspace

Release date 21.07.2009
Fearless Records

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