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Mediocre, but not awful - 50%

MurderNArson, August 23rd, 2006

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"

What?

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."