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Trivium, as most metalheads know, had more than a bit of hype behind them when they released this, their second album, on Roadrunner Records 10 years ago. I'm not exactly sure how that hype was generated, since I was, in 2005, barely aware of metal beyond a few scattered pieces by the likes of Slipknot, Korn, Iron Maiden, and (weirdly now I think of it) Megadeth. Trivium registered on me fairly early when they won Kerrang! magazine's album of the year accolade and their name was screamed from the rooftops in said magazine. The fact that Kerrang! was a more mainstream rock and metal magazine than most of the music on this site (their second place was Nine Inch Nails' 'With Teeth' and the following year saw My Chemical Romance gain high praise) should indicate that Trivium's appeal might exclude some more staunchly traditional fans of heavy metal and speak more to the younger acolytes who grew up on NWOAHM bands like Machine Head, Killswitch Engage, Shadows Fall, and Chimaira. However, I wouldn't go as far as to say that an album like 'Ascendancy' lacked crossover appeal, since there are obviously enough classic stylistic tropes on display here to satisfy fans of metal's golden 80s era, in addition to the devices that brought it into the 21st century.
The band's influences are somewhat obvious yet varied enough to ensure that their material never descends into mindless worship music. The stamp of Metallica's 'Master of Puppets' is writ large on the riff work and melodic vocals of songs like 'The Deceived' and the thunderous closer 'Declaration', while the attitude of the Black Album era is also present in the stadium-gazing breakdown of 'A Gunshot to the Head of Trepidation' and some of the dominant choruses on display, although the sound is drastically updated. Beyond Metallica, there are many other reference points that should delight old-school lovers, such as the inspired twin and lead guitar work of 'Like Light to the Flies', which shows great study in the field of Iron Maiden, Helloween, and Mercyful Fate. Nor is the trick a fluke, with gorgeous leads proving the highlight of several songs. The presence of the old guard is tempered by some definite contemporary traits, not least the breakdowns and hoarse screamed vocals that bite more than a little from the pie freshly cooked by Killswitch Engage, Darkest Hour, and Shadows Fall around the turn of the century. What is often underestimated in regards to Trivium is that they never fell into the same formulaic metalcore pattern as Killswitch, instead producing a more coherent and biting version of Shadows Fall's 'Of One Blood', which showed a greater desire to marry extreme and popular styles with a thirst for diversity and individuality. Though many elements of 'Ascendancy' can be recognized at first listen, many traits - and especially the combinations of traits - are Trivium's own, as can be instantly discovered by a glimpse at the song titles, lyrics, and unique melodic sensibility that the band made their own from day one.
What has probably upset some people and delighted others is that Trivium's mixture of styles is not consistent with any recognized group of bands. Unlike many of their modern metalcore brethren, they clearly have two very talented guitar players in their midst, yet they are still happy to produce breakdowns and a few chug and fill riffs alongside other thrash and classic parts. Matt Heafy's vocals have no obvious desire to imitate Metallica other than a few brief sections, such as the "Open fire" chorus of 'A Gunshot...', and take heed of the modern trend to switch styles from harsh to clean at strategic points. However, Heafy has neither the most brutal screams nor the most saccharine cleans, resulting in one great strength and one glaring weakness. The bonus of his voice is that the clean sections remain - for the most part - anthemic and not whining, while his plain and unemotive roar is to the detriment of an eloquent and interesting set of lyrics that retell the stories of angst and anger in creative ways. The solos are the most obviously traditional element of 'Ascendancy', though the drumming packs its own punch beyond the mere classic/modern dichotomy. Bass is sadly not a feature, even if the guitars remain dynamic enough without much of its aid.
The thing that really made Trivium stand out in 2005 and should keep them head and shoulders above most of their competition is their unerring ability to write songs. I don't simply mean that they write memorable music, but that the way Heafy and Beaulieu are able to develop ideas during the likes of 'The Deceived' is sure proof that they have a grasp of their craft beyond making melodic choruses and punishing riffs. The progression of 'The Deceived' from churning metalcore riff to chugging thrash fills, into the chorus and back out to a calm lead melody and placid after chorus shows more imagination than any number of more generic metalcore, thrashcore, and modern melodeath bands who understand the main components of their art, yet lack the knack and finesse to glue those parts together. The weaving of classic twin guitar melody and martial drumming in the solo section is also a neat idea that has become a lot more prevalent in the wake of this album.
As such, there aren't really any bummers among the 12 songs that make up 'Ascendancy'. There are a few weaker moments, such as the rather plain and stuttering metalcore/deathcore of 'Suffocating Sight', though parts of that still stick in my mind, while the more subtle title track doesn't come off as the band hoped. Problems tend to appear when Trivium stick to one idea for too long, especially in the verses, when Heafy's voice quickly wears thin, though they keep things moving quickly, always introducing new ideas and filtering out most of the poor ones before they become too harmful. 'Pull Harder on the Strings of Your Martyr', for example, has some ideas that are clearly a cut above the norm, yet it takes a little long to arrive at that point to be completely satisfying, also afflicting the two closing tracks, which are longer, though could have been more compact. 'Declaration', the 7 minute closer, has some of the best and most varied guitar work of the album (how many musicians must have coveted those spiralling licks of the fast-paced riffs), yet sometimes feels disconnected, seeming like a compilation of several discrete movements, something that the band would improve by the time they reached the more complicated 'Shogun' album. One gets the feeling that if the band recorded 'Ascendancy' today, they would remove a song or two and tighten up some of the structures to avoid occasional monotonous moments.
You might come down on either side of the fence regarding 'Ascendancy', largely depending on how open you are to having classic ideas tampered with and how willing you are to forgive some minor shortcomings, though there should be something to appreciate for old and new fans alike. Arguably, Trivium have lost some ground in the race for metal frontrunners since 2005, but 'Ascendancy' still remains a spirited album that will excite more than it irritates.
Ascendancy and yours truly have a pretty storied history together. The background information is a necessary evil required to explicate why I of all people feel the need to defend Trivium's exceptionally loathed sophomore release - to a point. Imagine a younger me nearly ten years ago, balls-deep in Children of Bodom and Norther. A chance encounter with "Pillar of Serpents" at a college party of all things inspired me to track down Ascendancy once it was released to the expected fanfare. Being much less sullen and spiteful than I am today (even though I would never win a kvltularity contest), I was a bit more open to the album's devious hooks and easy on the ears harshness. Despite gravitating towards heavier realms of auditory splendor, this one always somehow found it's way into my car's CD player.
To address the elephant in the room immediately, Heafy's harsh roars are inert as can be. He has a strange proclivity of enunciating the "e" in many of the words, and it only amplifies the shortcomings in his approach. The screaming has that dessicated, dry quality that is normally associated with Petri Lindroos. It is loud, exhaled, and would be a fatal flaw if not for the cleans. Cleans that show a decent amount of potential and are silky and saccharine in their delivery. On a purely technical level, Heafy tries to squeeze past by faux-singing like Ron Rinehart did on Time Does Not Heal, but on the whole he is passable. The potency of each song is directly attributable to the level of angst in the vocal delivery. As such, "Dying in Your Arms" and "Pull Harder on the Strings of Your Martyr" are both complete wastes of time and well deserving of the aforementioned scorn. Similar vocal flaws mar "A Gunshot to the Head of Trepidation", which actually really picks up near the end; but it sure takes it's damn sweet time getting there.
While the opener is functional enough, the first hint of quality comes in the form of "Drowned and Torn Asunder". Both this and the subsequent title track are more melancholic and darker than most of the material that bookends them. This gives the clean vocals more of an established foothold even if the riffs aren't quite as rancorous as elsewhere. In short, that's all you really need to know. Other than the fluke that is "Suffocating Sight", the rest of Ascendancy follows the established mainstream pattern of accentuating the singles and phoning it in elsewhere when the band can get away with it. "The Deceived" is interesting only in the fact that it is a castoff from the Ember to Inferno sessions. The verses groove along nicely, but it falls through the cracks in spite of it's stormy disposition. The two bonus tracks are complete throwbacks to the first album in function and form, and "Blinding Tears Will Break the Skies" is worth tracking down if you dig much of Ascendancy.
While Beaulieu clearly holds thrash mainstays like Exodus and Overkill close to his heart, his delivery is strictly in the melodic metalcore vein akin to As I Lay Dying. His thick, meaty tone only accentuates the vapidity of many of these riffing passages. Even so, the trade-off solos between him and Heafy embody some of the most impressive isolated moments on the album. They aren't all amazing, but "Light Light to the Flies" is worth a passing glance for it's solo alone. Smith's performance on the drums is decent, but Sneap's ever-present hand in the production is likely responsible for most of the percussive appeal. Smith doesn't spend enough time on the top end of the kit, constantly pitter-pattering away with the double-bass and doing little else of marked concern. It can grow tiring quickly with little input from Gregoletto to help disperse the monotony. While Gregoletto is credited on Ascendancy, former bassist Brent Young actually appears in the video for "Light Light to the Flies". One of modern metal's greatest mysteries?
I jest, but the common practice of dismissing material on principal as a sort of stylistic filter will always toss a few undeserved albums by the wayside. While it is naturally all subjective, Ascendancy has enough of a fire lit under it's ass to stand out from the crowd more often than not. It's hip, it's happening, and it's passable.
That is my first thought whenever I start listening to Trivium: "Why?" I ask myself why this band receives so much criticism from the average "trve" metalhead. Fact is, this one of the only "metalcore" bands (and I am hesitant to even apply that term to them) that I still consider good to this day.
I am hesitant to apply the term "metalcore" to this band because they honestly seem more like heavy metal or thrash metal with the majority of vocals growled. There's no mind-numbing breakdowns and no insipid emo screaming. What there is, however, is a plethora of excellent guitar work. This shows up the greatest in guitar leads, which add perfect harmony to their songs (see: the chorus of "Drowned and Torn Asunder" and the leads after the chorus in "A Gunshot to the Head of Trepidation," among others). These leads typically pop up and add a lot of delicious melodies to choruses in the album.
In fact, I think that is what makes Ascendancy the album it is: the plentiful well of melodies, and it's not just the guitar leads. Every single chorus in this album is catchy, but without being generic or "poppy." The vocal lines are well done and consistently make me want to sing along with them. In truth, these guys have a knack for forging addictive, catchy choruses (something I believe they manage in each of their albums); without them, they'd lose an enormous fraction of their charm. Of course, these choruses are dominated by Matt's vocals, which may have been at their peak here. Unlike latter albums where Matt adapted an abrasive, thrashy singing style, his singing here is the very foundation for the melodies that keep me coming back to this album.
Though the album excels in guitar licks, the riffs are not bad either. They're never complicated, and they sometimes fall generic; overall, though, they're entertaining enough. From what I noticed (though this is not always the case), songs that deliver powerful leads seem to lack in clever riffing, whereas songs that lack leads have better riffs ("Rain," "Pull Harder on the Strings of Your Martyr"). "Like Light to the Flies" is the major exception; it has good guitar work all around and some of the best vocal lines in the album. As such, it is the major highlight. Ultimately, though, this album is dragged back considerably by the fact that some songs have great riffs, while others seem to exist entirely for the sake of the choruses.
Nonetheless, the good here (again, namely the melodies) works enough to drown out segments which are less worthwhile. With that, I see no reason for Trivium to receive the negative reception among the metal community they always do. This really isn't much like metalcore - and even if it is, this is almost the best metalcore one can possibly get. I still view their pinnacle to be Shogun, but this is only a few short steps backwards.
I have been listening (and loving) this album for far too long, and not written about it. There can be little doubt as to why Ascendancy is ranked as the 6th greatest album of the decade by Metal Hammer. Trivium hones into their niche, expanding on many ideas first presented in their debut “Ember to Inferno”, and the result is astonishingly good. I have been a fan of Trivium for almost 6 years now, and Ascendancy still never ceases to impress and energize. For some obscure reason, there are masses of ignorant listeners who hold the unjustified preconception that Trivium are a less than worthy band, and in the same league with the much popularised Avenged Sevenfold and Bullet For My Valentine. One good, honest listen of this album would completely shift this disposition. By my reckoning, Ascendancy is everything I hoped for and pretty damn close to perfection.
Every band member has an audible and obvious impact on the ‘hugeness’ of the album. The sheer amount of memorable riffs found within is incredible, drawing from a wide variety of musical influences. Harmonies reminiscent of Iron Maiden and Machine Head, the speed-picking of Metallica’s first four releases, and even hints at black metal (evident in the title track); all combines with Trivium’s own unique style with an astonishing result. The liveliness of a young band that has just ‘found’ their style is palpable throughout the album. Every song has its ‘pump-up’ moments, contrasted with generally slower and more melodic choruses, allowing the listener to experience the ferocity and aggression without tiring out or becoming disinterested. This juxtaposition creates the unusual theme and atmosphere that I associate with Ascendancy; dark, imposing and angry, yet blissfully enlightened and crystal clear.
The drum work in Ascendancy is a force to be reckoned with. Travis Smith out-does himself with a variety of complex patterns, perhaps most notably; his intermediate fills throughout the intro of Pull Harder on the Strings of Your Martyr. Smith’s extensive use of double kick throughout drives a multitude of songs into their crescendos (see The Deceived, Like Light to the Flies, Declaration, Departure, Ascendancy... what the hell, almost every song apart from the acoustic opener, The End of Everything). I have become aware of growing criticisms of Smith’s drumming, and I cannot disagree more to these claims. I considered Smith as one of the leading drummers in the scene, and have yet to be blown away by his replacement, Nick Augusto.
With regard to the balance of the album, it is impeccable. Brutality and melody are perfectly matched to my tastes, especially with Matt Heafy’s vocals (harsh for the most part, yet tastefully clean at select intervals). This is not the case with their later albums (most notably The Crusade and In Waves) which based greater emphasis on clean vocal passages. For a man that can scream and shout so harshly, Matt possesses significant talent as a clean vocalist (see Drowned and Torn Asunder; Dying in Your Arms). The production of Ascendancy is clear and projective of every minute detail, engulfing the listener in a veritable tidal wave of perfection. One final aspect that has my nod of approval, is the refreshing absence of any stereotypical, bland breakdowns that must make an entrance into every song in the case of some bands (Parkway Drive and Avenged Sevenfold, I’m looking at you). Breakdowns do make a select few appearances throughout, however these are complimented by intricate lead guitar work, stimulating a great sense of originality and superior musicianship.
It is extremely rare to find an album where every song is legitimately brilliant. My list so far includes Symbolic and The Sound of Perseverance by Death; Fury of Our Maker’s Hand and Last Kind Words by DevilDriver; Master of Puppets and ...And Justice for All by Metallica; and The Blackening by Machine Head. Ascendancy can be added to this list with no uncertainty; it is memorable in every sense. The only inhibiting reason why this masterpiece has not scored a perfect 100%, is that I believe that nothing can be truly flawless, but for the life of me, I cannot find a problem with Ascendancy.
Personal favourites: Ascendancy, Departure, Like Light to the Flies, Suffocating Sight, Pull Harder on the Strings of Your Martyr.
Recommended listening: Every song is an incredible listening experience.
Specific moments for non-believers: The snare roll and solo of Light Like to the Flies, the harmony and solo of Ascendancy, the intro of Pull Harder, the harmony and final riff of The Deceived, the solo of Suffocating Sight... to name a few.
Like the vast majority of people on this site, I have a generally low tolerance for metalcore and other sub-genres of that nature. As much as I've tried to get a taste for bands like Killswitch Engage and Lamb Of God, I've never been able to get my head around the bland song structures and vocals that generally come off as annoying more often than brutal. However, this band has become one of my musical guilty pleasures thanks to their own instrumental skill and a certain Youtube user's hilariously crafter parody...
In terms of style and structure, the songs on this album are done in the run of the mill metalcore method. Almost every song starts off some kind of building introduction, the verses and pre-choruses are often fast paced and led by harsher vocals, the choruses are always performed with melodic clean vocals, and a breakdown of sorts often leads to a technical guitar solo section. Of course there are a few exceptions to the established rule. "Dying In Your Arms" is a ballad of sorts dominated by melodic vocals during the verses and screams during the chorus and the last two songs attempt to go into more complex territory. Ironically, the latter two songs end up becoming the album's weakest tracks due to a seeming lack of focus...
The lyrics are also rather typical of the genre and generally seem to focus on feelings of angst, anxiety, and anger with some occasional lapses into more political/social themes. There aren't too many brilliant lines on here, but there does seem to have a bit of effort put into the lyrics' construction. It's certainly not as pretentious as anything on their next two efforts...
In the face of all the album's generic moments and predictable structures, the band's energetic performance is what seems to keep this album from the forgotten realms of faceless mediocrity. Drummer Travis Smith's (Not to be confused with the artist of the same name) solid performance injects life into these otherwise pedestrian tunes and the guitar playing manages to keep things lively with the fairly technical riffs and solos. The production also serves in the band's favor and helps create a fiery atmosphere that would make even the dullest filler somewhat listenable.
All of this, of course, brings us to vocalist/guitarist Matt Heafy... I hate to say it, but Heafy's vocals really seem to keep this album from being as listenable as it could be. While his screams do often fit in with the songs at hand, they are also performed without true aggression and his clean voice is ultimately bland. Having said that, he can still carry at times and the clean singing merely hints at the Hetfield influence that would overtake his voice on the following effort...
All in all, this is one of the better metalcore albums that I've ever heard though it's far from attaining a classic status. In fact, this isn't really even their best album. Personally, I'd recommend "The Crusade" to more melodically mindful metalheads and "Shogun" to those who wish to see these aspects of the band displayed with more interesting results...
1) Energetic drums and guitar playing
2) Great production
3) Even the fillers are relatively memorable
1) The vocals could've been a lot better
2) Repetitive song structures
3) Slightly generic lyrics
My Current Favorites:
"Rain," "Pull Harder On The Strings On Your Martyr," "A Gunshot To The Head Of Trepidation," "Dying In Your Arms," and "Suffocating Sight"
Firstly, certain genres aren't for everyone, some claim metalcore is what "good metal sounds like after it has sold out", others claim it is the defining underground metal scene of a generation. To be objective among genres would be to make no sense, as the defining qualities of, say, power metal and metalcore are so different that they could never be compared well objectively. Thus music shouldn't be set aside solely because of it's genre, and thus it would be a logical fallacy to judge music solely based on the genre, for example saying "Ascendancy is a bad album because it is metalcore." And usually this is done in a less blunt manner, but essentialy many people will and have said that it just sounds like all the other metalcore, but to be truly objective you must listen beyond the genre, to the technicality, energy, and emotion of music within the style (or if it breaks ground in music/metal altogether.)
Now, onto this album specifically.
Matt Heafy's vocals didn't change much from Ember to Inferno, they still maintain a good level of emotion, enough to maintain a good atmosphere within the music. The lyrics are a drawback to the album, because despite the above average delivery, the lyrics have highs and lows. At some points they will be very angst ridden and powerful, such as on the song "Drowned and Torn Asunder", yet at others they will seem very cliche', such as on the song "Dying in your Arms." This is a bigger drawback to some more than others, but personally I believe that as long as lyrics aren't consistantly lacking emotion and lacking intelligence, than the music can be listenable (and deep, intelligent lyrics are just a rare bonus.)
The guitar work is fantastic throughout the entire album, it isn't a shredfest by any means, but it is delivered with such conviction and emotion, while at the same time maintaining technicality and not falling into any stereotypes of the genere. This just further adds to the great atmosphere this album gives, and the emotions it evokes. This guitar work is exhibited throughout the entire album, but to get a good idea of it I would listen to the song "A Gunshot to the Head of Trepidation." The bass, on the other hand, is generally hidden under the guitar, doing only what it needs to do and never pushing limits. Which isn't neccesarily bad, because it definately does not take away from the music, but there is not much to say about it besides that it just fits with the music.
The drums on this album are not overly-technical or overbearing which drums can tend to be when bad drummers try to overcompensate. But Travis Smith attempts a "White Stripes"'esque strategy on this album, by just playing drums that fit well with the music, he does what he needs to do to sound good and nothing more. This is a treat for those of us that are fed up with abnoxious drummers or those that only use standard double-bass riffs. Generally all of the instruments on this album synergize perfectley, and I attribute it most to this style of drumwork.
The first taste of this album you get (after the fairly dissapointing introduction) is "Rain" which is a very energetic song to kickstart the album, though I feel it is the one point on the album where musicianship is not exhibited as well as on the rest of album, especially on the guitar. But the last song, "Declaration," is a definate highlight of this album and a great way to end the album, on good musicianship and excellent angstridden vocals with coherent lyrics to go along with the fantastic delivery.
"Ascendancy" is a wholly entertaining album, perhaps sans the song "Dying in your Arms", but that is not a horrible song and is easily made up for by the proceeding song "The Deceieved." So the album is not perfect, but it is very enjoyable and I think will be looked back on as a classic album of the metalcore genre. I would definately check it out if you are into the metalcore genre or are looking to explore other genres.
After a year and a half of touring, getting signed to Roadrunner records, and recording a new album, Trivium finally re-emerged with an album that is hands down better than the previous album, Ember to Inferno. The riffs are beefier, the production is more wholly, and the two new band members (lead guitarist Corey Beaulieu who joined around the time Ember to Inferno was released, and bassist Paolo Gregoletto, who entered the fray when previous bassist Brent Young left for personal reasons) brought a whole new spark of energy and life to the band. Returning members, guitarist/vocalist Matt Heafy and drummer Travis Smith really stepped up their game on this one. The drumming is more technical, Heafy's songwriting has improved immensely since the last album, and his vocals are much more powerful and convincing than the very digital overdubbed vocals on Ember to Inferno.
Things start off on a mellow note with "The End of Everything", a short piano/acoustic guitar intro with some choir vocals in the background, before "Rain" kicks in with a thrash metal riff, before morphing into a metalcore song with nice vocals, riffs and an emotional solo thrown in at the end, before ending with a breakdown riff. "Pull Harder On The Strings Of Your Martyr", the second single from the album, is one of the album's highlights, and a staple in the band's setlist as the song they usually end with. A technical drum intro, catchy riffs, a guest solo played by producer Jason Suecof, and a chorus to die for are what made this song a Trivium classic. "Drowned And Torn Asunder" continue the momentum, with a melodic intro leading into more speedy riffs, and a thrashy pre-chorus, with a very nice duel solo between Beaulieu and Heafy near the end. The title track is a truly beautiful number with some very creative riffs and great lyrics to boot. "A Gunshot To The Head Of Trepidation", the third from the album, boasts a duel guitar harmony in the middle that would make Iron Maiden proud, and some bouncy rhythms built for the mosh pit.
The second half of the album starts off with "Like Light to the Flies", Trivium's first ever commercial single. The solo is one of the highlights of the album, as is the melodic chorus. "Dying In Your Arms" is the power ballad of the album, and while some may label this as "emo", there are no emo bands that hold the power, songwriting ability and the musical dexterity to pull this kind of thing off. "The Decieved" brings back the speed, with more anthemic rhythms and a couple of extremely well lit solos, before "Suffocating Sight" brings a bit more darkness to the illuminated areas. "Departure" is another slower number, with acoustic guitars during the main verses and an emotion filled chorus, BUT...things get nice and thrashy during the middle of the song, with some technical riffs and a climaxing shred solo before the rhythm slows down again immensely. "Declaration" closes the main part of the album off with an intro that is truly astounding in it's arrangement, as well as a riff that reminds me of "Cause For Conflict" era Kreator, and a midsection that is in quite epic proportions. The outro is a breakdown riff that continues until it fades...a quite fitting outro to such a great album.
My version is the "Special Edition" re-released in 2006 on Roadrunner, and it includes four bonus tracks and a bonus dvd which includes the music videos from the album and live performances from one gig of the same songs they made videos for, oddly.
"Blinding Tears Will Break The Skies" is nearly the same as the demo version recorded a year earlier, but a lot of the excess fat has been trimmed, in addition to better production and vocals, and "Washing Away Me In The Tides" has nothing that really seperates it from the others when listened to chronologically, but sounds amazing when listened to on its own. The cover of Metallica's "Master Of Puppets" is next and it sounds exactly the same as the original, albeit with E flat tuning. The full cd closes with the "video mix" of Dying In Your Arms, which includes a piano intro and no screamed vocals, but other than that, it's basically the same.
The dvd is kind of cool. The music videos are a nice touch, as is the live performance, but the performance is a bit lackluster. I don't really like the guitar tone used as it makes the beefy originals on the album sound weaker, and Heafy's vocals sound a bit forced...almost as if he's trying too hard to hit the notes, but ending up out of key anyways. Gregoletto's backup vocals sound horrible themselves...I found myself cringing while watching it, because it is not very pleasant to the ears. I know these guys can do better. I've seen them live and collect their bootlegs regularly, so I don't know why they'd include a performance that is so disheartening.
All in all, Ascendancy is one of the finest albums Trivium has released so far, even if a few songs do sound a bit similar, but if it isnt broken, why fix it? The sameness of the album and the obvious digital influence are what gives this a less than perfect rating to my ears. The band would change their style DRAMATICALLY for the next album to try and break themselves from the metalcore mold, and while it excels in some areas, it fails in others, though it seems finding their own style is something they have yet to do...
Type in "Trivium" on youtube always turns out to be enjoyable moments for me. Whether it be a live version of "A Gunshot to the Head of Trepidation" or a video of "To the Rats", reacting to all those comments is always fun. On one side, there are the fanboys, who claim Trivium to be the metal saviours, ture definers of Thrash or the new Metallica/Maiden. On the other hand, there are the haters, who all think Trivium sucks, or are clearly just another metalcore band. What I want to point out with this paragraph? I don't know. I just recommend it to anyone with a good grasp of the English language to piss off some people (whether it be haters or lovers) with some valid argumentations, knowing that they'll crawl in despair having someone to react on their worthless rant/praise.
As I'm writing this new paragraph, I suddenly CAN think of a meaning of the previous paragraph. Many reactions of fanboys towards people showing disrespect contain the ever so smart argument "you just hate them because their famous and earn money, and because you think they're metalcore". I, however, think that I can speak of the majority of the haters that we have other reasons not to like it. The dreadful music for example, or the arrogance of the band. There are in fact several reasons why I see this release as one of the negative turns of metal with mainstream succes.
Mainstream succes, yes. This record has got quite some attention. Mostly because of the general sound they play. Melodic metalcore may not sound as the right term to express this band's sound, but it is the most accurate. Expect metal in the sense of melodic death metal, but without the death-sound. The first song already proves that. Rain is an energetic song. The verse is speedy, the chorus catchy. Whether this song is good or not is up to debate, but it is undeniable true that in terms of originality, this song contributes nothing.
As the album moves on, various imitations of Rain pass by. All do they have the speedy verse, and all do they have the catchy chorus. This is the biggest reason why Trivium did go wrong with this album. Riffs are bland and unoriginial. Take any general metal band in existence, and there are too many similarities to call Trivium good songwriters. While the riffs are just boring to listen to, the solo's are definitely more enjoyable. Although it's all written in a neat minor scale, and even though most of it reeks to mindless wankery, the melodies in it fit the music.
All of this is directed by vocalist/guitarist Matt Heafy. A person known not only for his guitar talented, arrogance but also of his voice. To explain his voice is simple. He does is bad. Bad how he rips his vocal chords apart, and bad how it sounds. Although his clean vocals are not as bad to listen to, listening to his forced screaming is a pain. In most of the songs Matt tried to balance the dynamics with doing screams in the verse, and clean vocals in the chorus. Not only proves this the lack of songwriting talent, it also makes me to think I put the album on repeat-song.
There are, however, still some enjoyable moments throughout the album. Dying in your Arms is, save for the bridge, a simple but funny song. Leads and solo's in songs such as Departure, Declaration or A Gunshot to the Head of Trepidation prove that these guys DO have the potential. It's just not enough to be anything enjoyable. If Trivium really want to make an album that will not only please the mainstream audience, but also the casual metalhead, Trivium needs to create something unique. Something that doesn't sound like the 10000 other "heavy metal" bands.
Trivium were viewed as a prodigy. The new ‘Metallica’, the metal saviour, and this album, “Ascendancy” was to be their hyped-up masterpiece. For some, this was everything and more, but to me, I find it run-of-the-mill metal.
The album consists of eleven songs (plus an intro) yet not one of them can really distinguish itself from the rest. The usual ‘verse-chorus-verse-chorus’ is rinsed and repeated throughout the entire disc and the clean sung choruses run riot from start to finish. This is Trivium’s downfall, their lack of innovation to try and provide something more than the standards of this genre.
“Pull harder on the strings of your martyr” was sent around the net and appeared on numerous Roadrunner sample discs given out. It was the lead in track for the album and many listeners were instantly hooked. One of them being myself, for the track contains all the thrash/metalcore elements you would want. The powerful drum intro, the throaty vocals and the wonderful chorus. This track and a few praising words from the press was enough to lull the masses into purchasing the album, yet, what wasn't shown was the lack of ideas that filled the remainder of the disc. Of course, the majority of the tracks contain fairly infectious choruses coupled with the ‘never-changing’ rough vocals, but by the time your reach the last two songs it all becomes much of a muchness. The only light between the similar tracks is the short, yet terribly catchy “Dying in your arms”. To many this can be the lowlight for it displays the more commercial side of Trivium, but for me it is welcome relief. The only other track that deserves mention is “Like light to flies”. Another typical Trivium tune, but one of the better ones.
The tracks on “Ascendency” may be consistent with each other, but it is the lyrics of Matt Heafy that need revision. The songs are there to display emotion and more importantly aggression, but the lyrics don’t have to be as plain. “Fuck their ways it is time to break free, fuck their hate acceptance is what we need”. If I was deaf, I would say this band was nu-metal. The whole album is riddled with weak lyrics that leave a lot to be desired. “Tie the noose around my neck, make this life end”.
To dwell on just the negatives of the album would not be fair, for “Ascendancy” overall is not too bad. Besides from similar song structures and weak lyrics, it does provide listeners with catchy and sometimes memorable choruses, it just doesn’t reach the hype surrounding it before it was unleashed. The tracks are solid from beginning to end which is more than some bands can offer, and hence a score of 82 is given.
Trivium is set to unleash their enigmatically devastating record “Ascendancy” on a completely unsuspecting metal public. The band entered the scene with their Lifeforce Records debut ‘From Ember To Inferno’ a short while back and the title of that promising debut might just be the perfect phrase to sum up the progression between that album and the band’s unbelievably excellent first offering for Roadrunner Records. This album carries a tremendous impact akin to throwing the best of Slayer, Sepultura, Malmsteen and Killswitch Engage into a blender and drinking it down straight with no chaser.
Points of reference aside, Trivium relay a distinctly original sound that is truly their own, having thrown together, slamming licks, blazing riffs, supercharged rhythms and some of the best vocal dynamics to hit metal listeners in the last ten years. The band’s sonic attack is simply relentless, having an edgy feel about it that gives the listener the impression that they are listening to an album on a par with some of the greatest heavy metal albums ever created.
The contrasting themes of lead single ‘Pull Harder On The Strings Of Your Martyr” makes for a highly impressive listen. Containing one of the catchiest melodic choruses in recent memory, this is a song that will repeat in your memory over and over again. The stop action axe work that hails the introduction of ‘Rain’ sets the pace for a virtual slam fest of neck snapping rhythms and pure metal madness that is anchored by the substantial, thunder of bassist Paolo Gregoletto. When Matt Heafy sings “Time will always be…the thing that kills me truly”, he exhibits a powerful set of pipes that are equally at ease screaming vicious aggro barks or resonating clean melodies. The lyrics are an impressive factor on this record, as Heafy manages to craft poignant phrases that immediately stick in your head. Combine that with interesting, relevant topical matter and you certainly have an undeniable poetic force to be reckoned with.
Uncontrollable tempos mesh with huge harmonies on ‘Drowned And Torn Asunder’, a song that sends chills up the spine with its sheer melody and absolutely ripping lead work. It is a vivid picture that rests upon Trivium’s musical canvas, filled with energy and passion that infects the blistering strains of the title track ‘Ascendancy’. ‘A Gunshot To The Head Of Trepidation’ continues the onslaught with a pummeling double bass rhythm from drummer Travis Smith that lapses into a ferocious verse and a pre chorus break that decimates the finest of Metallica’s dual axe syncopation. Listeners will be completely absorbed into the frantic refrain of ‘Like Light To Flies’, a song which features the one of the best chorus section of the entire album.
In ‘Dying In Your Arms’, the group have a definite choice for a follow up single that would completely dominate the airwaves. Commercial enough to garner a great deal of mainstream appeal, yet unabashedly aurally weighty, Trivium show that they are the modern metal masters, hands down. Things pick back up into overdrive with the thrashy, highly moshable ‘The Deceived’, which once again features a soaring vocal refrain and some savage lead work courtesy of Heafy and Corey Beaulieu that perfectly emphasizes the energy of the track. ‘Suffocating Sight’ contains riffs that are tighter than a closed vice as Heafy wails with abrasive venom. The song features a cool modulation that carries the tune to the next level to close things off. ‘Departure’ shows Trivium making good use of texture, with some great backing vocals and a chorus that builds to a pummeling crescendo. This is another track that would come off well on radio.
By far the epic track on this record is ‘Declaration’, the album’s final track. Melding intense harmonies, crippling lightning speed beats and solid chunking grooves to form a driving wall of sound, this track has everything that metal fans could ask for. Again, Heafy turns in a stunning performance vocally, ranging from deep growls to high register, reverberating notes that will strike at the metal listeners very heart.
‘Ascendancy’ is a determined, chaotic hell ride of an album from start to finish and certainly an album that will be quite difficult for even the greatest of metal artists to top. Well produced, well executed and most importantly performed with an intense passion and precision, this album is completely unstoppable, fresh exciting and highly enjoyable after scores of repeated spins. Quite simply, this band is going to be huge in 2005 and most likely for many years to come.
Main Entry: trivÂ·iÂ·al
Etymology: Latin trivialis found everywhere, commonplace, from trivium
1 : COMMONPLACE, ORDINARY
2 a : of little worth or importance
In light of the above definition, Trivium is the perfect name for this band. Ordinary, bland, contrived, emotionless, insipid tripe of little importance that will be forgotten in a decade. "Oh but they can play their instruments well!" News flash: Every year music schools across the globe graduate thousands of guitarists whose chops would put this band - and 99% of metal bands - to shame. Most of them can't write anything very interesting though. Conclusion: skill is irrelevant to quality. If you defend a band by saying "well at least they can play," remind yourself it doesn't matter by telling yourself, "so can guitarist number 72 from Juilliard's class of '98." Get over it.
The vocals have been thoroughly bashed, and what the bashers say is true. Emotionless, flat, monotonous, unintelligible. Why even have them? The alternation between harsh and calm styles is here in all its cliched glory. Scream then whine. Scream then whine. Scream then whine.
The guitar riffs are just kind of there. They don't do anything interesting, they bring no momentum to the songs, they're forgettable. The solos are played skillfully, yes, but they are there just to be there. Zzzzzz...
The lyrics. Good god the lyrics. It's probably for the best that we can't understand them. Sure many metal bands have bad lyrics, for instance Rhapsody's are over the top with cheese, and many death metal bands have brutal lyrics that are stupid written on paper - but that's the point! For brutal music you have brutal lyrics. For over-the-top epics, you write a fantasy epic about slaying enemies with your steel. The lyrics here are taken seriously, which would be OK if they were halfway decent. But they're just insipid and pretentious. They aren't even delivered completely. Most of the keywords of each line are screamed out - I guess you're supposed to interpolate the rest. For example, from the song "Pull Harder On The Strings Of Your Martyr" we have the line:
Pull Harder on the String of your Martyr
How is this line "sung"? "PULL!!!! HARDER!!! STRING!!!! MARTYR!!!" Great, makes lots of sense.
Speaking of this song, it may actually be the best thing to come out of this album. It was the inspiration for the now-infamous "BOAT! RUDDER!" parody video. For this I give this album a point.
Many of the lyrics are laughably whiny:
"Everytime I'm left alone
My misery begins to drown me
Tied by a rope of anxiety
As for pretentious, the writers clearly intended for the lyrics to elicit a "whoa, that's so deep" response. Sometimes we have badly used 50-cent words. Can anyone actually read these lines aloud without laughing? You can tell they're supposed to be oh-so-deep:
"I am but a farce a satire of stability"
"Disintegration constituents to decompose of the parts
A malformation utopia systematic unity can't be achieved"
Trivium. (Plural is trivia.) Something of little worth. One has to wonder if this band is a cruel joke. If you could call your band "stupid crap" and still build up a huge, oblivious fanbase, it would be pretty funny, no?
Trivium’s debut album “Ember to Inferno” turned a lot of heads, to say the least. The young Florida natives have managed to do a lot since then. The band is now on Roadrunner Records and has done several large-scale tours. Now, Trivium are back with their second full-length release and their first on Roadrunner, titled “Ascendancy.”
These guys are some of the most talented musicians I’ve heard in a long time. “Ember to Inferno” was a masterpiece that set a very high precedent for the band. This is a band that I genuinely want to see go as far as they possibly can, and believe me – they can go as far as they want to. That’s why “Ascendancy” is a hugely important release for Trivium. Coming off of such a successful and brilliant album like “Ember to Inferno” is a tough task to take on. This is an album that could quite honestly make or break them.
Well folks, this album should further establish them as one of the best young bands in all of metal. Trivium has simply done it again. They’ve managed to come out with a mind-blowing album that is going to push them higher and higher. An intro titled “The End of Everything” gets the album started. The subtle keyboards and acoustic guitar parts that this intro track display are quite the illusion. Once the first song “Rain” kicks into high gear, you know you’re about to be taken along for a ride. “Rain” is a vicious beginning to the album and sets a feverish pace that the band will maintain throughout this disc. Next is “Pull Harder on the Strings of Your Martyr,” a song that displays how diverse Trivium can be. It’s loaded with brutality and breakneck speed, but has just as much melody. This song should go down as one of the band’s classic tracks, hands down. If you want a healthy dose of melodic metal, look no further than the title track. You can easily hear the melodic death metal influence of classic In Flames material and the like in this song. The combination of masterful guitar work and soothing melodic overtones are unbelievable in this song. The solo at 2:25 of the song also displays the technicality of Trivium, which is an attribute that you don’t see enough of these days. If you want another song that should go down as a classic, check out “Like Light to the Flies.” This is my personal favorite song of Trivium’s. It straightforwardly shows how good this band can be. I can listen to this song over and over again (believe me, I have.) “Dying In Your Arms” is song that displays the harmonious side of the band. It’s a short song, but as powerful as they’ve made. It’s also one of the catchiest on the album and should please a wide variety of people. This song is followed by “The Deceived,” a song that is yet another work of art. The pace and overall tone of this song is something to behold.
The production on the album is solid, with everything sounding as it should be. “Ascendancy” is as good of a progression from “Ember to Inferno” as anybody could wish for. The band already possessed maturity far beyond their years, and that is furthered on this album. Every song is so tight musically. You couldn’t get tighter if you were wearing spandex pants that are two sizes too small. The band’s songwriting also has advanced, as every song flows along well and possesses immaculate structure. Individual improvements are aplenty as well on “Ascendancy.” Guitarist/lead singer Matt Heafy’s vocals have taken a big step forward. Especially with his clean singing. The clean parts have more power and grip than on “Ember to Inferno,” which is absolutely amazing, considering how brilliant Heafy was on that album. Travis Smith’s work on the drum kit is improving as well. There’s a lot of variety in his playing – even more so than on “Ember to Inferno” – and he’s only going to keep getting better. Every member of the band really stepped up for this album, and I can’t say that I’m surprised. With a band as talented as this, excellence is to be expected.
Trivium is one of the best young bands in metal today. “Ascendancy” further proves that fact and should elevate them to even bigger heights. As I said before, these guys can go as far as they want to go. With music like this, they’re going to get as big as they want to be. This is an album that should be in everybody’s collection. If it isn’t, then you know what to do. Go buy it! This album is close to perfection, but the thing is, I think we’ve yet to seen the best of what Trivium has to offer. Remember, this is only their second album and I expect them to reach gigantic heights.
First and foremost, let's stop the nonsense. This is NOT thrash. Thrash is Reign in Blood, Among the Living, Killing is My Business...And Business is Good, Darkness Descends, Bonded By Blood, Kill 'Em All, et cetera. That's what thrash used to mean, and that's what it has always meant...except now everybody in the mainstream metal world likes to slap the thrash label on any band that can play Gothenburg riffs fast (ex. Shadows Fall, The Haunted, these guys) or who can simply beat on their guitars at reasonably frequent invervals (ex. Slipknot, Static X, both of whom have, tragically enough, actually been called thrash - as Paul Baloff rolls over in his grave). To Trivium's credit, they do, from time to time, use riffs comprised of power chords linked together by palm-muted open notes that sort of SOUND like thrash riff, plus some triplets on "The Deceived", but by and large this is a modern melodeath (which is barely melodeath at all anymore) album with some distict metalcore tendencies.
And for that, it really isn't that bad. The riffs are catchy (although often insipid), the production is crystal clear, the solos are pretty well done (the one in "Like Light to the Flies" almost makes the whole album worthwhile), and the drumming, while not exactly Dave Lombardo- or George Kolias-caliber, definitely gets the job done.
There are really two factors that bring the album down for me, and make it impossible to listen to all the way through. The first of these is the vocals - the monotonous shout that this guy uses really does nothing for me. It's not really aggressive, it's just sort of...there. Adds nothing at all to the music. And then there's his clean singing. He can be damn good at it, and he proves this on songs like "Rain" and "The Deceived," where he showcases a rough-edged harsh voice that is none the worse for sounding a bit like a failed attempt to channel James Hetfield. If he did the whole album that way, it would be a winner, but more often then not, the clean vocals are delivered in that blatantly contrived "emotional" style that, for reasons passing understanding, continues to win points for bands like this among youthful audiences. I could do an entire rant just on this subject alone, but I'll spare you all and simply say that while good vocals certainly must have feeling in them, it's not very convincing when you constantly sound like you're on the verge of tears no matter what lyrics you're actually singing.
And speaking of the lyrics: "This seems to suit you better/Bleeding out the eyes/Hope's left in chain suspension/Holding onto lies, to make the truth"
But then again, I try not to let stupid lyrics bother me...after all, I listen to Cannibal Corpse and Blind Guardian, and even Trivium's adolescent poetry is nowhere near as juvenile as the former, nor as cheesy as the latter.
Anyway, the other thing that bothers me about this album is that there are really few standouts. "Rain," "Like Light to the Flies," and "Pull Harder on the Strings of Your Martyr" are really the only songs that I can single out as being measurably better than the rest; other than those, it's just more of the same. Now those other songs, taken by themselves, are alright....it's just that it gets kind of redundant to listen to a whole album of them.
Now, I've spent a lot of time eviscerating this album for its weaknesses, no doubt raising the question: why do I listen to it? Well, because it's catchy, because the guitarists can actually play, and because I still entertain the hope that maybe, just maybe, these guys will mature into a decent band. I saw them live not too long ago and was very pleasantly surprised by the show they put on. The vocals were more agressive, they conducted themselves (and looked, I might add) like a real metal band, and the song they played off their upcoming album showed quite a bit of promise. Maybe touring with the likes of Cannibal Corpse, Behemoth, and the almighty Iron Maiden will do these guys some good...in any case, they've got the potential to be more that just "okay."
Why did this band have to come up? Weren't there already 500 bands that played the same formula and same unintelligent riffing over and over again? This makes The Haunted seem heavier than Dark Angel, this album is one of the worst releases in music (forget metal). After their debut which sucked equally, Trivium have released another monstrosity on us that only a metalcore fanatic like my brother would worship. I had heard this album only because my brother thought it was thrash and I'd like it. He was wrong, that’s FOR SURE.
Musically, there's nothing exciting or new here. It's all been done before and it's done better by the only decent metalcore band in this sucky genre - Shadows Fall. The guitar leads are nothing overtly technical or well done but they’re probably the only thing good about the guitar. Trivium sound totally like an extremely watered down Dark Tranquility trying to be seen as thrash by playing melodic riffs that are in no way exciting. Throw in a vocalist who has a clean voice as bad as that kid from "Busted" and a pussy hardcore voice and you have one of the worst bands in metal. Yes, he may be good in "Capharnaum" but he's total rubbish here. The drumming too is nothing special and if I may add - the only proper thing in the album. Yet, I don’t listen to metal to hear the drums; drums only complement the music which completely sucks here so no points for the drumming.
On a song level, everything just sucks here. The band actually has a good intro riff in Declaration and Gunshot to the Head of Trepidation but then they decide to go all melodic and the song totally collapses. All the songs here suck, Like Light to Flies has the worst clean vocals ever recorded and Pull Harder on the Strings of Your Martyr has annoying double-bass combined with the normal annoyances of Trivium. Every single track on this album sounds the SAME except for the last track Declaration. Declaration can be seen as the moment of glory in the bands career, its 7 minutes long and it actually keeps me interested for the first 25 seconds. Then, the song totally falls apart with nothing in it to keep me interested. “Dying in Your Arms” sounds totally emo and has the most annoying melodic intro riff I’ve ever heard. “Rain” starts off with an awesome riff but again falls apart when they go melodic and Heafy comes in. The band seems to get everything wrong and even if they do 10 seconds of right, they have to do 3 minutes of wrong to compensate.
Final Verdict: One of the worst albums ever recorded. It’s not really Load, but its pretty close. The main problem with the music is – they have a sucky vocalist. Besides this, there are also other prevalent problems – drums mixed in too loud, uninteresting “riff” and leads, vocals mixed in too loud. My advice is to stay clear of this album; this is only something a metalcore fanatic could ejaculate over – to all the others, stay away. This band’s existence is unneeded, there are already 500 clones of Killswitch Emo-Gage and we don’t need any more.
Each day there seems to be a new metalcore act getting their video frequented on MTV and getting a spot on Ozzfest. The popularity of the scene exploded, and resulted in many new bands being described as groundbreaking and awesome. These guys, Trivium, are worshipped as the new deal after Shadows Fall, Killswitch and Lamb of God.
Mainman Matt Heafy has often been described as a guitar god. Maybe he is in terms of sheer wanking, but songwriting is clearly lacking here. This seems to hold a decent amount of promise in the first half minute or so of opener "Rain" that actually has a guitar driven rhythm. Not surprisingly, at 0.30 it fades to the usual metalcore pattern. Boring repetitive rhythms and generic barking. Oh, and did I mention that the clean vocals suck? I can deal with singing like Shadows Fall's that's just kind of mediocre at times but this is grating.
Second song even skips having a decent intro. It's pretty mediocre, having a total Arch Enemy "Wages of Sin" vibe. And you know what Arch Enemy plus hardcore means? Yes, this sounds like Killswitch Engage. These riff packages have been heard approximately one zillion times before. What's even worse is that they keep playing a couple of really generic "riffs" that are even more boring under the vocals, who are once again monotone as hell. The cleans are a bit less atrocious, still far from even being okay.
The album tends to fade even more the longer one listens, as the two first songs actually are the "good ones". Every song tends to sound just like the last one, despite the fact that Trivium actually has judgement enough to somewhat mix up the song lengths. Generic this undeniably is.
In the end, my listening to "Ascendancy" was a waste of time. I've heard this many times before and I by no means want to hear it again. Metalcore may work as gateway music for newbies or for listening in very small doses. Even if my intent was one of those things, I would pick one of the few decent acts. Trivium is not one of them.