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Trivium are back! Three years since Shogun, they're back refreshed, revitalised and with a brand new drummer. And they most certainly are back with a vengeance.
I've been a big fan of the Floridian quartet ever since Pull Harder On The Strings Of Your Martyr exploded onto the metal scene way back in 2005. At the time, my exposure to harder ends of metal had been quite limited and they opened my eyes to a new level of technicality and aggression, inspiring me to listen into their influences and discover a whole new world I'd previously neglected.
While their Roadrunner debut was a modern masterpiece I felt that their following works, The Crusade and Shogun never really lived up to what they achieved with Ascendancy. Don't get me wrong, they are by no means bad albums, they're just not quite as good. For me, Trivium seemed to be in identity crisis, they were neither one thing nor the other. Neither album really flowed as well as Ascendancy did and it was a crying shame, because trust me, put the songs out live and they're all winners.
With In Waves though, things are different. Trivium have really found themselves. What we have here is a band who have written music at their own pace, in their own time, without the pressure of the label breathing down their necks to get something put out. There was three years between this record and the previous one, the longest gestation period of any album they have done (obviously there was also significant touring in between them) and it shows.
The songwriting is superb. Trivium have always had a knack of writing very lyrically interesting songs and In Waves is no exception. Songs of death, destruction, love, loss, heartbreak and devastation are all weaved through haunting melodies, aggressive posturing and guttural roaring. Matt Heafy (vocals, guitar) has pulled something special out of the bag. He's doing things with his voice that you would never expect. His trademark screaming has evolved to include proper death metal low end grows/roars while his clean work has a clarity and tone that surpasses anything he's ever done before. Caustic Are The Ties That Bind is a perfect showcase with him going from brutal screaming in the verses to a beautiful clean melody as the middle section builds up. Watch The World Burn and Built To Fall remind us that as well as punishingly heavy, Trivium can be as catchy as any pop band you'd care to mention. Both songs push forward anthemic choruses that drill into your mind and set up camp for the night. Built To Fall is starting to get some mainstream radio play over in the States and rightly so, its a brilliant song, hopefully it will get Trivium out there to even more fans.
The songwriting prowess has also encapsulated the musical arrangements with the boys trying out some new ideas, such as the title track featuring an ABA arrangement, looping a thundering one note riff with a melodic extending verse/chorus. Certainly not what I expected from Trivium but a welcome change from verse/chorus/verse/chorus/solo/chorus/end which seems to trap most modern metal bands these days.
New drummer boy Nick Augusto must be praised for his stellar work and could quite possibly be the keystone which has helped Trivium hit their stride. Nick introduces new ideas into the mix such as black metal style blast beats and breakneck double kick work. Bonus track on the special edition Shattering The Skies Above is the perfect showcase of Nick's skills. Previously coming from a grind core background has paid off as he has the chops to take Trivium into a thunderous new direction. Its also worth noting how well he locks in with Paolo Gregoletto's virtuoso bass playing. It's like the two were spawned from the furies at the same time.
And I can't forget the guitar work. Simply put, its fucking amazing. Trivium have always been a technically impressive band but Matt and Corey Beaulieu have clearly been practicing for this album. The riffs, melodies and leads are a master-class in how-its-done. There's plenty of standout songs for it but for me Inception Of The End and Dusk Dismantled showcase the best playing the pair have laid down since Ascendancy.
It's worth mentioning that I'm reviewing the special edition of the CD and its probably one of the best value for money CD packages I've bought in a long time. Featuring well over an hour of solid metal is all well and good, but also packaging a DVD with an 8 song live set, a 40 minute documentary and the lead music video, well, it's just spoiling us. There's a lot of enjoyment to be had from the 18 tracks including a bloody heavy version of Sepultura's Slave New World.
This is one of the best albums so far in a year replete with big name releases (new Machine Head and Dream Theater albums are due out in the next month or so) and Trivium just keep proving how powerful and relevant a band they are. The next question is, can they follow this up with something even better? I surely hope so.