The Word Alive’s adventurous career path has been full of territory most bands at their level dream of achieving. Combining prog metal guitar magic, off-the-wall synth textures that give even Children of Bodom a run for their money and a knack for genuine emotional delivery, the five musicians that make up the band have done an excellent job at setting themselves apart from the genre norms. They’re truly a cut above.
With the release of their new single “Trapped” (that leads off the grandiose next chapter for TWA that is Dark Matter), listeners who are familiar with the REAL. album get to hear the same consecutive lineup for the first time in the band’s history. In retaining a lineup the benefit gained from achieving such chemistry together is evident on this single. Whereas REAL. was primarily a metalcore album with slight jumps into radio rock and alternative rock stylings, “Trapped” is a bold leap into a nostalgic, yet contemporary alternative metal sound. For anyone who grew up listening to the likes of Breaking Benjamin or 10 Years the expressive rawness this track brings with it will sound familiar.
However, knowing this is a The Word Alive song, the satisfaction lies in how well TWA are able to make this sound their own. While the song is straight-forward and without a doubt far more accessible than most, if not every other TWA song heard previously it carries such emotional depth, signature quality and natural heaviness that this could just as easily appeal to any fan of even the Deceiver album’s aggressive attack. A Linkin Park-esque atmospheric lead begins the song before dropping the listener straight into djenty, bendy grooves that will sound familiar to any fan of Volumes or Periphery. Lead vocalist Telle comes in with a seductive, sensual whisper that could have very well come from the lips and lungs of Chino Moreno of the Deftones, a compliment to Telle’s expanded vocal capabilities. It’s why when his screams pierce the air with such defined clarity and intensity the hair on one’s arms may stand up on end. If that doesn’t do the trick then the dizzying, disoriented, intoxicating melody sung in the chorus that traps itself in your own head (this is relevant to the song too) will take you for a whirl. This melody, such a desperate and dazed exclamation in the first place, surrounds the entirety (ha) of the song in a pit of trippy ambience and engulfing sludge, the likes of which one only hears in spacey shoegaze. It’s not that anyone sounds far away. It’s the emotion gained from this track that conveys such a draining long haul of conflicted emotions, the point brought home by the sound of a bong hit that breaks through during the song’s most violent moment.
It’s certain that “Trapped” pertains to feeling caught in your addictions and toxic ways. Just as the message, the mix is clear as can possibly be with each instrument defined to their finest point. Just listen to Daniel’s bass in the first verse, Luke’s pocket drumming, and especially Tony and Zack’s whirlwind of a breakdown. The main compliment to provide to this song is how massive it sounds. Despite its straight-forward and easily understood execution, every element of the song hits with such scope and planned intricacy that calling this song simple doesn’t quite describe it. Repeated listens reveal how well Telle, Zack, Tony, Daniel and Luke as a cohesive unit have come together to push their musical identities forward.
With “Trapped”, that’s not the only accolade they’ve accomplished either. It’s not to be understated how wide of appeal this song could have. Does it qualify as a rock jam, a metal banger, a metalcore anthem? D. All of the above. The Word Alive have successfully matured and expanded into new territory, a move that is finally as big as their name. What secrets Dark Matter holds are yet to be heard, but after discovering this musical treasure, I’m all ears.