Monday, July 9, 2012

Album Review: "Life Cycles" by The Word Alive

>> When writing their new album, The Word Alive wanted to create music unlike anything they had done in the past.  They added new elements, feelings, and ideas to the drawing board.  They managed to stay faithful to their sound while still creating something new.  The album, Life Cycles, starts off on a fun note, but it soon transitions into something full of emotion and energy.  The band's biography states that they have "gained a global reputation for pushing the boundaries within their genre" over the years, and this album is simply proof of that. With strong lyrics, catchy choruses, and an overwhelming amount of passion, this album will leave any fan of heavy yet melodic music wanting more. 
For fans of: We Came As Romans, Memphis May Fire, Like Moths To Flames

>> Life Cycles starts off with "Dragonspell," and it becomes clear that this album has a lot going on.  The beginning sounds like something you'd hear at a dark, metal circus.  It hints at the deceiving fun, catchy riffs that could overshadow a more powerful meaning in the songs to follow.  This track seems like the perfect introduction for this album, starting it with passion and drive.  Track two, "Wishmaster," picks up where "Dragonspell" left off.  This one is a step down in terms of heaviness, but it has just as much power.  It seems to be leading up to something, even beginning with a fade-in crescendo that adds to the feeling.  This track also has some of those 'metal circus' effects towards the end, showing that all of these songs are connected, and are telling a story.

>> "Entirety" starts off strong and keeps building all the way through.  It has a cryptic feel to it, referencing something that couldn't be avoided without ever naming it.  One line states "feeling isn't easy," and another "feelings are a deadly thing."  By also saying "if I lost you, I'd lose everything" and repeating "you're all I have,"  the lyrics become very powerful.  There's clearly a strong connection being described here, whether or not it's a good thing.  This connection and raw emotion comes through in the music.  This song, while extremely catchy from a melodic perspective, clearly has some dark undertones that make you want to listen more than once.  Watch the lyric video below and see for yourself.

>> "For Your Health" begins with a soft and calm melody.  That calm only lasts for 24 seconds before the screaming comes in, but you can hear it all throughout in the undertones and the background of the song.  This track is different from the rest in the sense that it's full of soft spots, even with the usual heavy riffs in between.

>> "Life Cycles," the album's title track, starts off with a line that really hits home.  "I'd rather die for what I believe than live a life without meaning." The song itself is pretty mellow in the beginning, but the energy gradually builds as that opening line is repeated.  There's an indie rock feel in the guitar parts that sets this song apart from the others on the album.  One lyric reads, "So please take the time to get inside my mind."  That line defines the feeling of the entire album. It reflects the band's search and desire for understanding, something seen in both the lyrics and overall tone.  It isn't overly heavy, but it isn't too soft either.  The Word Alive really accomplished something great with this track- the band goes from calm and reflective to driving and passionate and back again, all with a smooth transition that makes for a great song. The band released a lyric video for this song, which can be seen below.

>> The next song, "Evolution," builds off of the energy from "Life Cycles."  This track also has some calmer melodic moments, but it has a much darker feel to it all the way through.  The band seems to be seeking understanding in this song, just like the one before it.  This song ends with the sound of marching, perhaps leading them to the answers they desperately need.

>> "Ambitionary" is track 9 on the album.  Near the end of the track list, this song manages to be one of the heaviest, and yet one of the catchiest on the whole album.  It's both relate-able and raw, making it a stand out.  The band said the following about this track:
"The song as a whole, is about that moment where you're willing to do whatever it takes to be the person you're supposed to be, but you just need someone to help you get there.  Sometimes all we need is a push in the right direction, and that is what this song is about.  The title is a reference to someone who's life mission is to be ambitious, and find out their true calling." You can listen to the song and view the full statement about it here. This is just one of many songs on this album that has a great sound on the surface as well as a deeper meaning behind the screams.

>> "Astral Plane" starts with a few notes you'd expect to hear while looking at pictures of a wasteland after a battle. The battle in this album is an internal one full of passion and desire.  This track is very calm and reflective, and even when the vocals get louder and the riffs become stronger, there's still clearly a feeling of finality.  Overall, it's the perfect closer for this album.
*Songs not mentioned: "Bar Fight", "Hidden Lakes", "Live A Lie", "Belong", "Room 126"
>>  Personally, I'm usually not a huge fan of anything that has a lot of screaming (with a few exceptions, of course).  But after listening to this album straight through a couple of times, it started to really grow on me.  I actually have favorites, including "Entirety" and "Life Cycles."  If someone like me who isn't necessarily a fan of the genre can like this album, then any fan of the band or similar bands will be more than pleased.
Fans, keep an eye on this band.  They're looking to do big things.

>> You can purchase Life Cycles through iTunes or Hot Topic.

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