The Word Alive / Chelsea Grin
with Like Moths to Flames & Sylar
Tickets: $18 ADV / $20 DOS, available 3/10 at 10:00am
The Word Alive
People can immediately tell if you're real. They know if your art is genuine, and they'll stick with you if they hear, see, and feel your truth in everything you create. Since forming in 2008, The Word Alive have built that sort of trust with their diehard fan base - the sort of trust that gains you followers not just for a fleeting moment, but for a lifetime. So, it's only fitting that the Phoenix, AZ quintet's third full-length album for Fearless Records bears the title of REAL. Over the course of two full-length albums and two EPs, The Word Alive have risen through the ranks to become modern heavy music elite. They've toured with everybody from Killswitch Engage to A Day To Remember in addition to gracing the stage on Warped Tour multiple times, including a full run on this summer's Vans Warped Tour. They've garnered loyal press support from the likes of Revolver and Alternative Press, to musician magazines Modern Drummer and Guitar World, as well as strong brand partnerships with Monster Energy, DW Drums and Ibanez. Respected equally by their peers and fans alike for their impressive technical musical abilities and goosebump-inducing live show that has gathered force and new fans with every gig, the band have worked hard to position REAL. to be the album that truly sees them breaking through.
Ashes to Ashes sees Chelsea Grin come full circle. The Salt Lake City extreme metal titans achieve cohesive clarity on their third full-length album for Artery Recordings/Razor & Tie. That vision is something that Alex Koehler [vocals], Jason Richardson [lead guitar, programming], Jake Harmond [rhythm guitar], Dan Jones [rhythm guitar], David Flinn [bass], and Pablo Viveros [drums] discovered through tireless dedication to evolution since the band's formation in 2007.
"On this album, I feel like we've finally found who we are," asserts Alex. "We're comfortable with what we're doing. We know the kind of music we want to write. This isn't trial-and-error. This record is exactly what we wanted it to be."
So what did Chelsea Grin aim for?
Well, Ashes to Ashes uncages a torrent of technically tight and taut metallic fury fortified by glimpses of melody and an intoxicating groove. Towering growls cast a spell over intricately incisive guitars and staggering rhythms. It's everything the band's diehard fan base remains accustomed to and more.
"We've always been known for being heavy," he goes on. "We have a little bit more melody here. Each song captures its own vibe. As a result, the album sounds completely different the whole way through. It's Chelsea Grin. We didn't listen to anyone else when we were writing. This is as raw as we could get."
Following up the release of 2012's Evolve EP, a stint on Warped Tour, and jaunts with everybody from Of Mice & Men to Motionless In White and Falling In Reverse, the group hit the studio with Volumes guitarist Diego Farias behind the board in late 2013. This marked the proper introduction for their latest lineup, officially including guitarist Jason [ex-Born Of Osiris, -All Shall Perish] and Pablo within the landscape of a full-length offering. Alex explains, "They add a different dynamic in the studio. They both brought so much to the process. We meshed everyone's talents together and built a super entity."
That super entity bares its teeth on the crushing, yet cathartic first single "Letters". This time around, Alex opens up more than ever lyrically, tackling life's issues head-on at full speed.
"Over the years of touring, I've received letters from numerous fans," he recalls. "More likely than not, the letters deal with them being suicidal or wanting to harm themselves at some point. They'll say listening to our music gives them the release they need to move on. This opened my eyes. I wanted to write something lyrically for them. If our music can be a weapon for these kids to use against their depression or self-harm, we should use it. I needed to let them know they're not alone. We're here together."
He gets personal again on "Clockwork", pondering the feeling of aging over a succinct snapping groove, while "Sellout" might just be the heaviest moment of Chelsea Grin's career to date.
"Something pissed me off that day," he smiles. "I decided to write a song about everything I was pissed off about whether it was people in the music industry, those around me, or fake friends. It's all mashed in one, and it expresses how I felt."
At the same time, "Pledge Allegiance" rails against establishment corruption, and "Angels Shall Sin, Demons Shall Pray" ruminates on good and evil with a walloping slam.
"This is obviously an angry song," Alex remarks. "It's expressing individuality and telling you to break out of the chains. I'm trying to express the importance of being your own person and not following what someone says or what they're trying to make you do."
Chelsea Grin's own individuality has transformed them into a veritable phenomenon. 2011's My Damnation landed in the Billboard Top 100 and #9 on the Indie Albums Chart, selling over 6,700 copies first week. Revolver dubbed them a "Band To Watch". Alternative Press showcased the group as part of "AP Recommends", while they became voted #2 in the AP Readers Chart. 2014 sees them once again join the Vans Warped Tour just in time for the release of Ashes to Ashes.
Clinging to that identity they've earned, Chelsea Grin are more dangerous and dynamic than ever. "I want people to listen to this album from front to back and view it as art and expression," he concludes. "It's not just heavy music. We don't stay within any boundaries. This is for the fans. They're the key factor in why we get to do what we do. They mean everything to us, and they're why we're even here."