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The Word Alive - Life Cycles Album Cover

The Word Alive - Life Cycles

Reviewed by
6.9
The Word Alive - Life Cycles
Record Label: Fearless Records
Release Date: July 3, 2012
This review was written by an AP.net staff member.
I don't think I used to fanboy for a band as much as I did for The Word Alive. First came the bold and blooming Empire, the versatile and catchy Deceiver, and now the blistering Life Cycles. With a new batch of member changes and shift in an overall direction, the band continually reminded fans that their latest efforts wouldn't suffer but rather, would improve. Have their claims been proven true? In some respects, yes and with others, not necessarily, to be frank.

The melodies are most certainly darker and linger for quite some time from the sheer power of the album, as quickly established by the opener, "Dragon Spell." It's clear that vocalist Tyler "Telle" Smith has improved with monstrous screams and polished but not overly decorated clean vocals. Proceeding to "Wishmaster," you get the sense that guitarists Tony Pizzuti and Zack Hansen have compensated for the loss of Dusty Riach, the bands former keyboardist, with both direct and subtle, atmospheric electronic components and push an interesting, experimental quality. These efforts are, for the most part, very successful. But with progress comes sacrifice, as by the time "Entirety" is over, the guitar work seems to contain too much tiring open note rhythm. One cannot deny the talent and energy of either guitarist, though, as fierce solos and crunchy riffing are most certainly present, as in times past.

Other aspects of The Word Alive definitely come to life, as easily seen in "For Your Health." The track plays as an amazing culmination of all previous works, complete with melodic and spacious guitar work that floats over Smith's emotionally on-point vocals.
Switch gears for "Bar Fight," which highlights studio drummer Matt Horn's quick feet and bassist Daniel Shapiro's swift hands to compliment a speedy song. As guttural as Smith's screams sound though, the song does suffer from a painful breakdown that rings similar to countless other metalcore acts, and in this simplicity resides the albums strongest weakness.

Acting as a quick recovery, the title track provides a symphonic anthem for listeners, and though the song has an overall moderate pace, it truly resonates throughout the album as an emotional testament for believing in something worthwhile. Another curve ball is thrown furiously with "Evolution," a blazing track that features the albums strongest collective instrumentation, equipped with haunting keys, enraged guitar and bass solos, and a bloodcurdling vocal delivery. For the next few tracks, strong choruses prevail and vibrant electronics reign, though not always to the full tracks' benefits. "Hidden Lakes" is considerably strong, but "Ambitionary," and "Live A Lie," have fulfilling choruses that juxtapose against weak versus which seem to breathe less momentum with each passing second. "Belong" and "Room 126" don't stray too far from this disheartening trend, but are better than the former tracks. There is a faster pace and familiar technical ability at times (and I might add a gnarly introduction for both) yet both still contain an over abundance of chugging. The next time you could find a consistent balance of pulsing rhythm and exciting instrumentation would be if you purchased either bonus track, "Smoke Monster" or "The Conscience." But after the 12 standard tracks comes a definite change for The Word Alive. "Astral Plane" provides an unheard emotionality, unlike anything in the band's discography. Smith channels a Chino Moreno inspired vocal presentation and passionately yells for what seems like final direction and solace, ultimately closing the album on a dynamic and moving note, and as unexpected as it seems in context of Life Cycles, this is one surprise that is very pleasant.

This time around, The Word Alive have crafted an album that has consistently catchy choruses, bolder vocal deliveries, and better sonic clarity but an album that disappointingly fails at times in conveying any emotion other than anger, with the exceptions of "Life Cycles," "Astral Plane," and a few bright and refreshing reprieves throughout the album. Perhaps this is a byproduct of choosing such stylized production. Maybe it's a part of the change of songwriting. Or possibly, this is the narrowed sound The Word Alive choose to exhibit. Yet, none of this is to say that this does not work for them. To deny it were to be blatantly lying. This is a band that is still unique in their own merit and incorporates elements that no other band in metalcore would dare attempt. And for that, Life Cycles is a powerful addition to the genre.

Recommended If You LikeMetalcore; Zombie EP with more technicality


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Displaying posts 1 - 4 of 4
11:41 AM on 07/08/12
#2
WeltallAY
Je suis l'Alpha et l'Oméga
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Small error; "technicality" is misspelled at the end ;)

Good review, explains every facet in detail and while I would give it a higher rating (being a sucker for this genre) I'd say I agree. Despite not having a keyboardist anymore, I was really surprised that the keys are overall more prevalent and more varied/interesting than before.

I encourage everyone to pick up both the bonus tracks, they're great.
12:07 PM on 07/08/12
#3
Steve Alcala
Let's play Smash. 1478-4468-2484
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Small error; "technicality" is misspelled at the end ;)

Good review, explains every facet in detail and while I would give it a higher rating (being a sucker for this genre) I'd say I agree. Despite not having a keyboardist anymore, I was really surprised that the keys are overall more prevalent and more varied/interesting than before.

I encourage everyone to pick up both the bonus tracks, they're great.
haha screw it, I'll fix it later. Thanks man, and yeah both bonus tracks are sweet.
09:12 PM on 07/08/12
#4
Archael
listens to good music
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Score is more correct than the other review.

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