Way back in July of 2009, Phoenix’s The Word Alive released the *Empire* EP. The EP featured some pretty solid tunes. Now, just over a year later, various member changes, and signing to Fearless, the band has come out with their debut full-length album, *Deceiver*.
I loved the Empire EP, but this album just does not come through for me. Don’t get me wrong, they’ve still managed to create some fairly intense, heavy tracks; the winding guitars, dramatic keyboards, and flustered double bass is all there and in place. But in the end the majority of the album falls just short of originality and lands itself in to the over-saturated scene that is post-hardcore. The overall album plays along the same edge as Emmure, The Devil Wears Prada, and We Came As Romans, filled with all the aspects of a hardcore band. There tends to be an overkill with guitars throughout the album, with unnecessary shredding and soloing, but the electronic ultra-bass clips combat that most of the time. Personally, I don’t have a problem with Tyler’s vocals, as opposed to Craig’s, I just think that they’ve ultimately taken it too far with the heaviness of his screaming – to the point where you’re expecting him to pop a blood vessel through your speakers.
“Consider It Mutual”, “Dream Catcher”, and “You’re All I See” offer little redemption as these tracks have a lot of clean vocals – in fact, “You’re All I See” is all clean vocals – and it lets you take a quick (very quick) break
from an Armageddon of screaming from Tyler. I will give it to the guys, however, that they’ve managed to maintain a cool and sometimes intriguing balance of bass electronica with guitars, specifically in “Like Father Like Son” as vocals shrieks ”*Don’t fuck with family!*”
I’ll note that they’ve included a re-recorded version of “Battle Royale”, a track from the Empire EP, and it’s just been massacred. It almost seems slower overall, but especially with singing and at the breakdowns. In this version the guitars and cymbals are more distinct, but it just doesn’t do justice, compared to the original version.
Overall, *Deceiver* doesn’t quite cut it. The Word Alive is certainly able to produce better than this, and I’d hope to see a little more originality both in musicianship and lyricism next time around.