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Curse you, Trivium. I hex you for destroying what little credibility I have left. When asked, I have always instinctively steered listeners towards the group's first two records, and Ascendancy will always earn the "listenable" merit from me. It may seem natural to assume Ember to Inferno is even better, but the sad fact is that it lacks much of what's to come. Yes, it features "thrashy" riffs alongside some throwback, Metallica-inspired song structures and overall pacing, but it also draws heavily from a stagnated pool of more modern influences that really dog the entire experience. Add Trivium's lack of a clear purpose and inability to know when to cut and run, and Ember to Inferno finds itself doused by the flames of inanity.
It starts so promising too, with "Pillars of Serpents" being a real riff monster that outclasses nearly anything the band has composed since. It is arranged in a decidedly less overambitious way than most of the material here, and comes off as infinitely more appealing as a result. Starting from this point, I could easily just end the review by warning the listener to avoid the odd-numbered tracks (which interestingly all blow ass in some way or another) - but let's look a bit closer. Heafy certainly knows how to inveigle the listener from the get-go, as songs like "Requiem" and "Falling to Grey" open with searing melodic passages that perk ears up right away, only to devolve into rather faceless genre posturing afterward with little else to see. This on it's own isn't a huge detriment - as the riffs are passable on the whole - but it sets the stage for the clean vocals to phase in and blow everything to dust. I considered Heafy's shaky cleans an acquired taste of sorts on Ascendancy, but they are fucking atrocious here. It sounds like he is holding his nose while he sings, and the vocal melodies just simply aren't that great to begin with. "Falling to Grey" is the most depressing casualty of the clean vocals, as it would be damn enjoyable from start to finish without the chorus falling so flat.
Other cuts like "Requiem" and "Fugue (A Revelation)" suffer from similar issues, but have their charms. The latter opens with what is probably the best riff on the entirety of Ember to Inferno and is mercifully much shorter than much of the rest of the material. The title track is decent though, and eerily foreshadows the namesake piece from Ascendancy in tone and delivery. It wouldn't sound out of place at all on the subsequent album, and the vocals on the chorus are well executed. While I don't own the 2004 reissue, I am still familiar enough with the bonus tracks to comment. "Blinding Tears Will Break the Skies" is easily the best one, and embodies some sort of stylistic halfway point between Trivium's first two records; overall a very enjoyable and highly melodic tune. The demo version of "The Deceived" is essentially the same minus the uneven production values, and "Demon" is a darker, more succinct slab at the direction Trivium started to unsatisfactorily implement on The Crusade.
The production values are alright, featuring a relatively snappy, airtight guitar tone that doesn't sound modern at all. Take the vocals away and Ember to Inferno would be a decent tribute to many of the group's more venerable influences. I also really dig Brent Young's loose-sounding, upfront bass timbre here. It very nearly reminds me of Overkill's W.F.O. at times, which you wouldn't necessarily associate with Trivium anyway. Ember to Inferno has some cool moments, but when one of the only two good songs is a bonus track, you can tell something isn't right. If you are really that dead-set on procuring Ember to Inferno, seek out the 2004 reissue. For the rest of us? Download "Pillars of Serpents" and "Blinding Tears Will Break the Skies."
Ember to Inferno was Trivium’s first full-length album to see the light. Trivium is a well-known band today and has caused a lot of controversy among metal fans; you will hear good and bad things about them. So, when you look at Ember to Inferno, you have to think of it as three guys that wanted to play their own music but showing, as well, all the influences they had as the heavy metal fans they were. Where do I want to get with this? Some may say the music of this album can sound generic, flat, even empty. At this time, the band was still in his early days and looking for a sound of their own, so releasing an album with your own music but showing your influences isn’t a bad start at all. Your band will progressively evolve and become more mature, and will eventually (or not) find the sound they were looking for.
Talking about the music, the album goes for a metalcore sound, showing also a lot of influence from the Gothenburg scene on the guitar work. Throughout the album, I felt that I had already heard what those guys were playing, mainly because of what I said about the influences of the band. The songs are very lineal, as almost all of them follow the same structure, and sometimes I felt I was still listening to the same song when it had already finished, mostly because the band used some of the riffs more than once, giving the album a somewhat repetitive sensation.
Matt Heafy’s guitar work is the biggest highlight of the album. He shows that he can be a very capable guitar player, even more if we know that by that time he was around 16-17 years old. The guitar solos are well-laid and he has a good sense of melody at the time of playing his instrument, as most of the solos and guitar fills show a lot of neoclassical influences. ‘Falling to Grey’ is a very good example of this.
Heafy is also in charge of the vocals. I’m a BIG Trivium fan, but, sadly, his vocals here are very, very poor. He does a good job with the clean singing, but he can’t growl properly, or do whatever that is. It seems like he still needed a lot of practice, because the harsh vocals lack strength and consistency. Overall, the singing is not bad, but Matt would eventually become better at it.
The bass and drums are there, doing what they have to do. On the one hand, we have the bass. It is very audible and has a few interesting lines all along the album, for example, the one that comes with the chorus of ‘If I Could Collapse the Masses’ or the chorus of ‘Ember to Inferno’ (maybe the most well-known song off this album). On the other hand, the drummer is very energetic. He is no virtuoso at all, his drumming is decent, but he employs very fast double bass kicking and he adds lots of speed to the songs on the album, making them feel more alive.
Overall, Trivium’s first album shows a quite talented band in his early days playing what they wanted to play with musicians that would later evolve and improve not only as that, but also as a band. A very good first step.
Before becoming the most mainstream sounding shit shower of a metal band modern melodic metalcore band, Trivium created “Ember to Inferno” an album with heavy chugging metalcore, intense crushing melodies, and a mainstream music meets metal sound that is pulled off fairly well.
The haunting intro begins the album on a melodic note that is beaten down by “Pillars of Serpents”, a chugging, grinding, churning sound that is heavy enough to be metalcore but still audible enough that the sound of the bass guitar is effortlessly audible in the mix.
Trivium’s drummer is much more intense than most metalcore bands. Employing intensely fast extreme metal double bass kicking, snare, and cymbal hits, it doesn’t break down any musical walls, but does add a lot to the sound of each song. The only problem is that there isn’t too much bass in the mix as the drums are pushed back so the quieter electric and bass guitars can take center stage, but even then the drumming in songs like “If I Could Collapse the Masses” and “Fugue” is superb. The drum beat opening “To Burn the Eye” does well to set the stage to the song as well, but the guitars seem to destroy it rather than elaborate on the good thing they had going.
The vocals are unique but not the greatest. There is a lot of constipation in the vocalist’s yells that doesn’t bring in much emotion but more a struggling with his own vocal cords. The clean vocals sound great, though and do well to bring in the much needed vocal emotion that isn’t present from the previous. The lyrics are interesting to say the least. Mostly about apocalyptic endings and negation of the metaphysical, songs like “Fugue” and “Ember to Inferno” do well to sound very upbeat though they lyrics describe pain, suffering, and disappointment of the faithful: “As this dream comes to its grim end, Blind pray to god to make them men, As all the scavengers are near, The world we know is gonna disappear”, the chorus of “Fugue” sounds beautiful when sung in the song, but is obviously not the kind of hopeful tune that it would seem. The only time the lyrics actually sound like they belong are at the end of the album in the songs “My Hatred” and “When All Light Dies”. “My Hatred” has the lower bass sound that is needed for the still weak constipated screams of the vocalist and “When All Light Dies”, a song involving a section describing some pretty brutal torture has some low riffing to accompany the angry diatribe. Other than at the end of the album, the vocalist could have easily passed with clean vocals and still sounded great with the album, but that was his decision.
The guitars are top notch. Playing colorful metalcore riffs that sound more upbeat than heavy, Trivium sounds like another version of the positive Shadows Fall but these deceitful riffs not only sound good but keep the listener thinking this band will be positive rather than set the stage for the struggle that is the lyrics. Solos like those in “Ember to Inferno” and “To Burn the Eye” do well to demonstrate the abilities of the guitarists without going on too long to seem as though they have large egos. At times some of the solos could have gone on longer as the passion in them like the solos in “Ember to Inferno” sound amazingly beautiful and melodic, but the guitarists at least did not make too much a show out of the very well placed soloing. “Ashes” has a very creepy guitar sound to it, only going on for fifty-three seconds; it sounds like a macabre circus from a horror movie rather than echoing guitars featuring very audible sliding. Like the misplaced vocals, the only time that the guitars seem to be backing up the intensity of the lyrics and vocals are in “Pillars of Serpents”, “My Hatred”, and “When All Light Dies”. The guitars are the kind of higher notes in the rest of the album that, like in Deicide’s “The Stench of Redemption” both have a place in the music but are too melodic and positive sounding to really match the heavy direction of the rest of the band. This mix doesn’t disappoint, though actually it makes the band sound even better than they probably would have with down tuned chugging throughout the entire album as there is plenty of variety, technicality, and talent in the musicianship to ensure that no listener gets bored.
The structures of the songs are not as formulaic as most bands. Though the songs are structured around choruses, there may be up to three choruses in a song like in “If I Could Collapse the Masses”, the only inkling of a breakdown is in “When All Light Dies”, and the solos are sparse throughout the album making sure there isn’t a ton of guitar wankery, but a good amount of intense technicality to break up whatever lack of monotony there may be in any given song. Clean vocals are not a must in each song, but it does enhance the meaning of a certain few lyrics when they are put in, and the drums are rather sporadic, coming in at random times with a double bass blast here or a quick snare fill there they do well to keep each song going but not attract too much attention. Each song is memorable and not too long, in all the songs are not exceptional but very good and do create a groove as the songs have similar beginnings and ending to the next ones on the album. If the band was looking to create a groove, they did it well, if they did this by accident, then it came together well as each song sounds similar and cohesive though each is unique enough to make sure the listener doesn’t think he is hearing the same song again.
In all, Trivium did really well creating this album, and the passion obviously was there when they were writing this one. This is Trivium’s best album, and any fan of new Trivium is sorely mistaken if they think “The Crusade” or any of their other offerings improved on the sound of “Ember to Inferno”.
From the lyrics to the title track of this album. Now, in all seriousness, the same sound derived from the EP/Demo is on hand here, with fast, semi-technical riffs, screamed verses, clean sung choruses and a solo in just about every song. There are some nice neo-classical guitar pieces wedged at the beginning, middle and end of the album to offer a change in pace, or perhaps to show the more slow, somber sides of the album.
The demo/EP got the band signed to Lifeforce records, and their first (and only) release under that label is this album here present. The same line up that performed on the EP are on hand here, with some guest musicians every once in a while helping with backup vocals, guest solos and additional guitar tracks. The newer songs sound fresher than the old rennovated songs from the EP, and their growth as songwriters seemed (was, and is) inevitable. Frontman/only guitarist at the time was still only 17 at the time of the recording/release of this album, so there still were many areas in which the band needed to grow.
The album opens with "Inception - The Bleeding Skies", which oddly enough, is the outro "A View of Burning Empires" played backwards. This leads into the fastest, heaviest song on the release, "Pillars Of Serpents" which sounds mighty similar to "Disciple" by Slayer, until a neo-classical riff kicks in and there's a nice clean vocal section with a helpless sounding solo. "If I Could Collapse The Masses" keeps up the speed, though it has many more slowdown sections than the previous track. "Fugue (A Revelation)" and "Requiem", reworked from the demo, sounds better here, as the solos are much different and the sound is much improved (I guess lots of rehearsal and playing live helped in this matter). The title track is next, and while it is probably the most well known on the album, I'm still not quite sure if it is the best. It does have all the ingredients that one can expect from Trivium, and probably the best chorus on the album.
"Ashes" is next, and it is a short, slow classical guitar piece, which leads into "To Burn The Eye", another song reworked from the demo, but I think this version sounds less punchy than the demo version, and seems even more so to drag on. Definetely the lowlight of the album, but a bad song on here? Nope. "Falling To Grey" is next and for a change, it opens with a nice solo. This is probably the most underrated song on hand here, as it seems to offer much more emotion and dexterity than the others, but there's something about it that makes it less than classic. "My Hatred" the fourth, and final song reworked from the demo, is in much better shape than "To Burn The Eye" is, though it suffers from sounding nearly EXACTLY the same as the demo version. The last real track, "When All Light Dies" is by far one of the best in the Trivium cannon. It packs quite an emotional wallop, detailing the horrors of child abuse, and the music on hand fits the lyrical theme quite well, alternating between somber and upbeat, brutal and melodic. There is a breakdown in the middle that is quite raging, and the outro is probably the best part on the album, which leads into "A View of Burning Empires", which is the same melody as the outro to "When All Light Dies", but classical guitars, keyboards, acoustic guitars all come into play here.
My version comes with two of three demo tracks they cut in November 2003, tacked on at the end. "Blinding Tears Will Break The Skies" is a fast, heavy number, with a great chorus and "The Decieved" would later resurface on Ascendancy, though with a guitar sound that's not quite as mammoth as this one. They cut another demo during these sessions, for the song "Like Light To The Flies", but they didn't show up on this release for some reason. Odd.
Eventually, the 3 track demo they cut in November 2003, made its way into the ears of Monte Connor of Roadrunner Records, but that's the next part of the story...
But for the time, Ember to Inferno was an album that may not have been original, but it was creative, and the age of the band members must always be considered when listening to something of this kind of status. When it was released, Ember to Inferno was but a footnote in the metal scene, but it's popularity has grown as Trivium has recieved more exposure.
Ember to Inferno is the kind of album which everyone puts down for the sake of trying to act more hardcore. But i'm going to be honest here, this album is pretty good. Sometimes the accent and screaming vocals may be difficult to warm to, but the music sure is.
If anything comes out of this album, it's showing that the band is more than your average metalcore band. The main differences being that this band actually has talent and has the ability to make desirable music.
The drums are particularly good, as are the guitars. The patterns, riffs and solos mix and flow together perfectly to create an aura of what we today call metal. Pillars of Serpents is a brutal track with a crunching opening riff to get things rolling. From the first three tracks, colour is immediatly put into this dorment deemed album. If I Could Collapse These Masses has a line in it which stands out to me personally, "to be one with the sea is to fly on broken wings". There are so many possibilities for what that could mean, so it kinda leaves you guessing.
A highlight of the album is the title track, Ember to Inferno. The whole song has a great roll to it as well as a lot of catchy riffs. Noting the guitars, they givre an excellent feel to the vocals. The guitar riffs in every song on here add a real depth to the music, from melodic riffs to hardcore tremolo picking, everything works very well. Although the production isn't the best it could be, the bands music makes up for that.
Also, every song has a nice headbangable rhythm to it, it's never too fast or too slow but is always heavy enough for you to get a good kick out of it. Some songs drag a little and repeat a little (To Burn The Eye), but the majority of tracks on here repeat just enough to even the balance.
If one thing is for sure though, this band will hit big time and big money. They aren't the "new metallica" or the "newest thrash metal craze", but what they are is a talented band with much potential.
In our modern era, new bands like this don't come very often, so no matter how much you enjoy the music, even if it's not your style and you hate it, we should all be appreciative that bands like Trivium are still keeping the spirit of metal burning in a world of degraded shit with squelching noises in the background.
Ember of Inferno is an album that can bring you tears. Not because it's so particularly moving, but because it's so particularly horrible. Take every stereotypical element from the hordes of crappy metalcore bands that plague the metal music scene and you have an accurate idea of this Trivium album.
The intro to the album is truthfully the best you will hear off of this shitty disc, merely because it sounds nothing like the rest of the album. It's an instrumental piece that attempts to dazzle the patron with an artsy point of contrast between it and the following track, but only comes off as a presumptuous display. The first few seconds of the first real song, Pillars of Serpents, is so gutwrenchingly dull and contrived that a listener with some sense of music will feel as if he or she died a little inside. The album does not get any better from this point, assaulting the ears with an orgy of dull riffing, lackluster drumlines and so much predictable song composition that you basically need only to hear one song and you have heard the entire CD. The album ends with A View of Burning Empires, another instrumental, yet by this point your spirit has been so beaten and broken from the outrageously unoriginal barrage of shit that all you really want to do is turn it off and proceed using it as a coaster.
The only reason why this album gets any points is because the band at least knows how to play their instruments. Of course, bees know how to sting and we don't like them any more because of it. If paint-by-number metal gets you hot under the collar, this album won't disappoint. However, if you have even the slightest modicum of good taste, save your money and your time. For what this album grants, you can get the same - if not better - entertainment from your wall.