In the early stages of their career, the Word Alive felt like an anomaly with their mix of metalcore and EDM influences. As they've matured, they've managed to more elegantly blend their contrasting sounds, a change that makes their third album, Real, the band's most refined effort to date. A successor to the heavier sound the band laid down on their sophomore album, Life Cycles, the album finds the bandmembers getting better acquainted with the tools at their disposal and how to use them for maximum impact. There's less of an emphasis on harsh vocals, with the band using them sparingly on the triumphant "Lighthouse," where they whip up to a frenzy during the massive singalong chorus that ends the song. Synthesizers take on a subtle but crucial role on "To Struggle and Claw My Way," with rapid-fire stabs of minor-key notes sending a chill up the listener's spine to create an unsettling effect that acts as a balance to the song's soaring chorus. As more and more bands continue to experiment with the fusion of electronic music and metalcore, the Word Alive set themselves apart from the pack with a more nuanced view of how these two styles can complement one another, proving that things don't always need to be pushed to extremes to be interesting or exciting. Because of this, Real is a rare metalcore album with enough depth to demand repeat listening, which definitely won't disappoint the band's die-hard fans.
AllMusic Review by Gregory Heaney