The Word Alive has, from the get-go, been that band that creates music for the sake of making music. There is no other motivation for them other than making music they love. The World Alive does not try to fit into specific niche or gimmick. They make music that is genuine and reflects part of who they are. It is only fitting that their third album is entitled REAL. To quote the lead singer Telle Smith “This record is for those who have supported us. It’s a REAL album from the heart.”
REAL is TWA’s third album and also living proof that they just get better and better with each album. Their previous album Life Cycles gained critical acclaim from numerous major publications like Alternative Press, Kerrang and Rocksound. It also debuted in the Top 50 of the Billboard Top 200 upon release. This is no easy feat for a metal band to pull. This album takes the sound that TWA mastered in Life Cycles and sends it through the ceiling. If you thought that Life Cycles was filled with anthemic, hard-hitting metalcore than you haven’t heard anything yet. REAL takes anthemic to a completely new level; there is not a moment when you won’t want to have your fist in the air and wanting to be hearing the music live. Not only is it anthemic; it is also heavy.
Speaking of heavy, this brings us to the introductory song on the album. “Play the Victim” is a massive song filled with pummelling guitar riffs tempered by anthemic hooks while atmospheric moodiness sweeps over the track. Let us not forget about the drums. Luke Holland does a tremendous job behind the drum kit laying down an absolutely massive drum beat. Telle Smith’s vocals are brilliant in is track as he bursts in with the opening lyric, “You’re the one who always plays the victim/ The one who always falls apart.”
The next song is a bit of a tearjerker for fans of Mitch Lucker. “Never Forget” TWA’s tribute to the legendary name within the metal scene that was Mitch Lucker. What I really like about this song is how the unclean vocals almost take on a melodic version of Lucker’s vocals. This combined with a haunting synth line and anguished guitar riffs creates a haunting send-off for a giant among men. Lyrically, this song is brilliant. Smith manages to turn this song into a eulogy as he is mourning Lucker’s death, yet also remembering the legacy that he left behind for his friends, family and fans. “There’ll never be another one like you / We’ll never forget.”
We now turn our attention to the first single off of REAL: “Lighthouse”. This song truly embodies the anthemic nature of TWA. The drums are gigantic in nature while the guitar riffs snarl from behind these massive drums. The gang vocals upon the chorus give the song an anthemic nature as you can just imagine standing in a crowd and chanting that chorus while the band delivers the song with a fierce and unbridled energy. Lyrically, the song is about the influence of the band and how they want it to be a positive one instead of a negative influence. I personally think this is a brilliant message convey especially from a band that is looked up to by a lot of people within the younger generation. Smith delivers the brilliant lyric “We stand up tall even in the dark / Never forget we are a lighthouse burning.”
Speaking about singles, “Glass Castles” was the most recent single off this album. It is everything you could possibly want from a metal-core song. It is melodic, heavy and an absolute killer. This song is bound to get you to start moshing quietly (or loudly) in the comfort of your own bedroom, or if you’re brave enough: in public (DO IT!).
“Terminal” may be my favourite song off this entire album. It is anthemic, heavy as hell melodic metal-core. The changes between clean and unclean vocals give the song a sense of fierce energy. The soaring synth on the chorus of the song make it seem like it was a song that was constructed to be both extremely moving and also a crowd favourite for singing along. The thing that strikes the biggest chord with me is how the song deals with the incredibly human feeling of being a failure and letting people down. Smith delivers the incredibly moving lyric of “Don’t believe in me / I’ll bring you down.”
What I want to know is how is it possible to fit so many brilliant songs into one album yet still leave the listener craving more. I have lost count of the amount of times I have actually listened to album. I often just hit repeat, not just for the sake of listening to it for review purpose but also for the sake of listening to it out of pure enjoyment. If you’re looking for an album that should be on your Album of the Year list; REAL is one that should definitely be on there. It represents a band at their prime delivering music that is genuine and for every single one of their fans, old or new.