It seems like every 00s metalcore band is transitioning away from breakdowns and towards melodic, moody hard rock, and while there are some obvious success stories (Underoath, Bring Me The Horizon), it’s a tricky tightrope to walk in order to make this “new you” still sound captivating. However, The Word Alive is no ordinary group, and their excellent and engaging Violent Noise has all the hallmarks of a band at the peak of its powers. The group’s fifth record finds them in the aftermath of various degrees of turmoil, as the long-running act is down to a trio after the loss of their drummer and bassist, and vocalist Telle Smith is as open as ever about his inner and outer demons. They say character is revealed by adversity, and The Word Alive have come out on the other side stronger than ever. Violent Noise is the band’s most infectious and cohesive record to date, despite deploying an impressive diversity of sound and style – yes, it’s even better than Deceiver.

A big part of the success of this record is the interplay of refreshingly honest and personal lyrics with absolute earworms courtesy of vocalist Telle Smith. Rather than railing against exes or other standard fare, the theme of the record is fairly succinct yet immensely sympathetic: I messed up, but I’m not giving up. That earnest resilience shines through even the album’s darkest moments. Songs like “Why Am I Like This?” and “I Don’t Mind” bringing the strongest hooks; the former even includes a nice homage to the only good U2 song (“Sunday Bloody Sunday“), while the latter feels like a lost Anberlin cut. Roaring synths and heavier-than-they-initially-seem riffs are the name of the game here, but it’s important to note that a large part of what makes Violent Noise sing is the fact that The Word Alive haven’t lost their edge, despite emphasizing hooks over sheer heaviness. “I Fucked Up”, “Stare At The Sun”, and “My Enemy” don’t forget to bring the heat, but they are balanced out by the type of contagion-level infectiousness that permeates the whole of Violent Noise. Even the guest rap verse in “Human” works much better than other recent attempts to merge hip hop and metalcore.

Interestingly, the density of style and sound results in a record that requires a few spins to fully stick. It seems odd to call an almost sticky sweet pop-metalcore record a grower, but there’s a lot more than what’s at the surface, and it results in a fantastic reset for The Word Alive. Big, brash, and too much damn fun, Violent Noise reveals an engaging, delightful, and fantastic version 2.0 for the band.

Purchase the album here.


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