Review: The Word Alive - Monomania
Entering their sixth studio album, Arizona's The World Alive has taken a sharp turn in a new direction. Begging with 2018's Violent Noise, the band has taken a turn down the path of alternative rock and post-hardcore. While Violent Noise divided The Word Alive's fanbase to an extent with some longtime fans clamoring for the group to return to it's metalcore roots. Personally I felt that Violent Noise was a triumphant step in a new direction pulled off with taste and integrity and I would in fact put it amongst the bands top three records. Judging by several singles the band has released Monomania will follow a similar path perhaps even further embracing alternative rock. We go into this record with much speculation as to whether this stylistic change will be pulled off with artistic merit or will it feel like a grab at mainstream rock radio.
The record begins with title track Monomania and to be honest on the first few listens, I didn't care much for this track. I felt this song was a bit generic and left something to be desired, however after seeing it performed live and seeing the raw real emotion poured into each lyric and note, I've found respect for what must've went into the making of it. No Way Out is a heavily emotional track and while only featuring a few screams it does a fine job of using lyrical themes to get across the heaviness rather than relying on pure harsh vocals. Lead vocalist Telle Smith has stated this was one of the most difficult tracks he has ever penned from an emotional perspective and it is very easy to see why. Searching For Glory thrusts the album forward with strong pop sensibilities. Some of The Word Alive's peers may have fumbled a song like this but due to their top tier songwriting ability they are able to pull it off with a sense of authenticity.
Another Year in the Shadows packs some of the biggest riffs on Monomania. Regardless of your feelings on their musical direction, Telle Smith is without question one of the absolute most talented vocalist in this entire genre with his soaring softly sung harmonies and some of the rawest screams to be found in any core genre. Greatest Almost is one of the faster paced tracks on Monomania and quite honestly that's all that sticks out about it. Thank You is a shining standout not just for it's heavier and more frantic style but also it's great song structuring and slight electronic elements. Numb Love (Misery II) serves as a follow up to their standalone single Misery features some very impressive instrumentation with a beautiful little solo placed nicely within an electronic passage.
K.F. is the most experimental track on the record and it's quite surprising that the band didn't choose this as one of the singles. It's rare to find a way to blend experimentation and catchiness and this track does it quite well. Burning Your World down is very heavy on bass which is something you don't often hear in this style of music and does a good job in making the song feel different along with the anger that radiates from it. Comfort Chaos sounds big for lack of better terms. It's extremely well and highly produced, this track feels like it could be part of a movie soundtrack. Death Is Only The End If You Assume The Story Is About You closes the album on very strong note with Smith's most powerful screaming of the record. This was the ideal selection to finish things off as it leaves you with a feeling that the band is just as dedicated as ever to keep making music with true emotion and passion.
My expectations were mixed heading into Monomania, while I never mind a band heading into a softer direction as long as it feels authentic and makes sense, I was a bit concerned by the first set of singles. However after recently seeing the band perform many of these tracks live, my opinion has largely shifted. A majority of these tracks are very well-written and avoid falling into the ever increasing Bring Me The Horizon clone black-hole that many post-hardcore bands have fallen into. It's been exciting to watch how The Word Alive has grown over the years. While I love Deceiver, you can't honestly expect a band to be satisfied playing the same style over and over again for so many years. The Word Alive has has the guts to step into new creative territory and they've done it quite well. Monomania gets a 4 out of 5 from us.