The Word Alive – Hard Reset

The Word Alive – Hard Reset
Thriller Records
Release Date: 25/08/2023
Running Time: 47:00
Review by Rory Bentley

Arizona Metalcore chaps The Word Alive are back with their fifth album “Hard Reset”, but is it as boundary pushing to this tired genre as the title suggests? In short no, not really, however it is not without its merits.

I’ve had to listen to a lot of formulaic overproduced Metalcore in my time reviewing, being the only writer on here that doesn’t vomit at anything with ‘Core’ on the end of it. Nothing makes my heart sink more than mediocre cookie-cutter, lifeless Metalcore when it comes to reviews. I’d rather have something terrible that I can at least form an opinion on and fashion a review out of (like the whole roster of Scarlet Records), because having nothing to say other than the written equivalent of a shrug is no fun for anyone. Fortunately The Word Alive have a decent grasp of melody and a knack for a good hook so “Hard Reset” was actually a pleasant surprise.

The title track has a slick merging of Industrial and Metallic elements that feels much more organic than many of their peers and has a strong chorus straight out of the Spirit Box playbook. Throw in some delightfully regal sounding guitar harmonies and you have a tightly wound commercial Metal banger on your hands. In fact it is these more commercial elements that really showcase the band’s main strength. Although not particularly groundbreaking the choruses hit hard time and time again on the likes of ‘New Reality’ and the stomping arena-ready ‘One Of Us’. It never feels too saccharine or jarring when combined with the big chunky riffing and despite being polished with an inch of its life it doesn’t feel cynical and calculated.

The almost Gothic vibes of ‘Hate Me’ lean so hard into Pop that it actually makes me wish that more of the record followed this formula. The Metal elements are workmanlike but far less convincing in this writer’s opinion, although the vocals in the beatdown section on ‘Fade Away’ are pretty gnarly. Then again heavier cuts like ‘War With You’ feel like they’re trying a bit too hard to be mean and your man on the mic sounds a bit like he’s having a difficult poo in places.

My main issue with the record is that aside from being waaayyyy too long, the songs themselves don’t always feel like they have enough time to breathe. The chorus in ‘Strange Love’ – while being very easy on the ear – comes in rather abruptly and a little too soon to let the more subtle electronics of the verses shine. This is an issue I have with most of these songs, to the point where it becomes frustratingly familiar the longer the album goes on. Thirteen songs is a lot to handle in one go when there’s so little variety. There’s nothing remotely bad here but strong as they are, choruses begin to blend into one another deeper into the runtime.

That being said this was an enjoyable listen and fans of the more shiny end of Metalcore could do far worse than this proficient, catchy slice of commercial Metal.

01. The Word Alive Is Dead…
02. Hard Reset
03. Strange Love
04. One of Us (Ft. Bad Omens)
05. New Reality
06. Hate Me (Ft. Loveless)
07. Slow Burn
08. Fade Away (Ft. Escape the Fate)
09. New Empty (Ft. Philip Strand)
10. Statis Rain
11. Invisible Army
12. Nocturnal Future
13. War With You (Ft. From First to Last)


Telle Smith – vocals / guitars
Zack Hansen – guitars / programming
Daniel Nelson – drums


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