Trivium - Ascendancy
Roadrunner Records
Metalcore that is heavy on the metal influence
12 songs (55:11)
Release year: 2005
Trivium, Roadrunner Records
Reviewed by Jay

Trivium. The little band that could from Florida. They shot to the spotlight after winning a battle of the bands contest and relentless touring. Their debut on Lifeforce Records was an awesome specter of the power that could be achieved when Gothenburg sensibilities were combined with hardcore and thrash influences from the US. It made an impression and got them signed to Roadrunner. Their first major label album Ascendancy will now drop in a few weeks and it's a mixed bag of metal. Let's take a look.

The good first. The band has never sounded tighter and better. While Trivium never had bad production (even their demo sounded unblemished), this just takes the cake. Each note is spectacularly clear. A polished product if I've ever heard one. Travis Smith's drumming is uncannily well captured to tape. If there is a defining element of this disc, it’s the drumming. Unimaginable clarity and attention were paid especially in the fidelity of the cymbals. They sound as though they were crashing in my room. Smith's abilities have certainly appreciated since the last record as well. His fills and patterns have a newfound complexity that certainly compliments the band's sound. The guitar work of both front man Matt Heafy and Corey Beaulieu have improved as well. Instead of heavily borrowing from Arch Enemy, they've gone their own way on this record in a more significant fashion. The melodies can be traced to more varied sources including some classic thrash. Much of what made Tempo of the Damned so good can be heard here. The difference however is that while Exodus sustained the brilliance for entire songs, Trivium merely shows flashes of said brilliance. We'll get an amazing verse or introduction riff only to be given hardcore breakdown #3 for the chorus. The dual leads are certainly a killer addition for the band even if they can't shred like Gary Holt or the Amott brothers yet. New bassist Paolo Gregoletto fits in perfectly and no weakness is detected in his playing.

Remember I said it was a mixed bag? Matt Heafy's vocals on this album are all over the place. He does emo, hardcore, melodeath, and just plain screaming. Sometimes he compliments the album perfectly, other times he completely fails to miss the mark. The chorus of the title track and the first single, "Like Light to the Flies," are a great examples. His vocals are in the whiny emo style and really ruin what are otherwise kickass choruses. On the whole, his vocals have become much more hardcore tinged since the last release; a development that does not suit the band. If he could decide whether he wanted to do classic thrash vocals, non-emo style clean vocals or a melodeath grating growl it would be great, but staying on the fence and trying to incorporate all three styles is giving the band nothing. He does manage to craft some awesome vocal harmonies when he sings in a clean voice so I'll give the mixer credit for bringing that forth.

One striking feature was the 80's throwback breakdown in "A Gunshot to the Head of Trepidation." It felt as though I was instantly transported to some lost Crue or Leppard song. That was a great addition to the already killer track. Easily this is the best track on the album. Excellent soloing, amazing verses and the utterly killer military march style drumming that reminded me of Amon Amarth in parts. Clearly, metal isn't dying if a young band can put out a song like this. This also has Heafy's best vocals performance by far. Of course, this can be contrasted with the filler track "Dying in Your Arms" which has mainstream radio written all over it. Simplistic, hooky melodies, an octave change in the last chorus, and multiple layers of overdubbed vocals make this one an easy choice to omit from the album. I don't know what possessed the band to include this emocore nonsense but it only serves to detract.

Musically, I'm quite impressed how far and how speedily this band has progressed. Being so young, they've certainly done something which is quite amazing. "Departure" is a glowing exemplar of their prowess. It has the speedy parts and the almost Opeth-like melodic interludes. I can hear so many influences gelling in such a unique way. With a few tweaks in the right places, namely vocals, this band could be magnificent and a forerunner of the genre and scene. It's a good album but it had so much more potential. If they can buckle down and really work out their vocal issues and tone down the hardcore elements on the next disc, we might be looking at an album of the year.

Killing Songs :
A Gunshot to the Head of Trepidation, Rain, Departure, Pull Harder on the Strings of Your Martyr
Jay quoted 70 / 100
Other albums by Trivium that we have reviewed:
Trivium - In the Court of the Dragon reviewed by Goat and quoted 83 / 100
Trivium - What the Dead Men Say reviewed by Goat and quoted 82 / 100
Trivium - The Sin and the Sentence reviewed by Goat and quoted 89 / 100
Trivium - Shogun reviewed by Pete and quoted 78 / 100
Trivium - The Crusade reviewed by Jason and quoted 79 / 100
To see all 8 reviews click here
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