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Trivium started in 2000 as a metalcore band. They released 'Ember to Inferno' in 2003, which was a straight metalcore album all the way. After they got signed to Roadrunner Records, shortly after releasing 'Ember to Inferno', they released 'Ascendancy' in 2005. This album was a lot more thrash influenced, but still didn't completely abandon the metalcore influences and playing style. It was well received and could possibly be described as Trivium's most popular and well known album.
After tons of live shows and a lot of promotion by the label, they started working on 'The Crusade'. This album was released in 2007 and almost completely neglected any single metalcore influence that they had in the past. It was a thrash metal album, and was promoted as such by the label. Singer Matt Heafy decided that he would not scream live again, as it would be affecting his voice. This, off course, was a great disappointment to the fans, as the lead guitarist, Corey Beaulieu had taken the responsibility for the screaming. And he wasn't the best. In 2008 they began writing for their follow-up.
And then there was 'Shogun'. The most recent Trivium album combines some of the thrashiness of 'The Crusade' with the metalcore heard on 'Ascendancy'. At first I was skeptical, as I didn't quite like 'The Crusade'. Come to think of it, I think a lot of people didn't quite like 'The Crusade'. It was so unlike Trivium. It sounded way too thrashy for the band that we knew off 'Ascendancy'. But enough of the small talk, let's talk about 'Shogun'!
When I pressed play to hear the first track on the album ('Kirisute Gomen'), I expected to hear a gong, followed by taiko drums and some Japanese string instrument. I was proven wrong. What I got was an acoustic intro to one of the most amazing Trivium songs I've ever heard. The drums kicked in and I was amazed. Could it be...? Could it be that Trivium had gotten this much better?
And yes, my assumption was right. Trivium really has evolved into a perfect mix of metalcore and thrash influences. Well, that description is actually a little short, as one can hear some black metal (Heafy is really into black metal), even some straight metalcore at times. Heafy has adapted a varied and dynamic vocal style, ranging from the screams off 'Ascendancy' to the melodic screaming that was heard on parts of 'The Crusade'.
So, the guitars. They have changed a lot. Where they were first omnipresent and prominent, they are now well mixed in with the drums and even the bass. The harmonizing that is so typical for Trivium's sound is still there, but it sounds a lot more mature. Maybe it's because they have permanently switched to using 7 string guitars, which are tuned in B.
The riffs are varied, though alike in a way, which brings us to the first downside on this album. There are multiple songs which have the same high pitched intro, which makes them sound alike a lot. Then there are, on the other hand, certain songs that sound a lot alike in ways of pace and rhythm or pitching. How varied this album is, it's still repetitive in a way. Doesn't get on your nerves a lot though.
Then there are the drums. Oh yes, the drums. They are perfect on this album. Where on 'The Crusade' the kick sound was a little muffed away and the snare was very loud, the drums are perfectly harmonized now. There is no ingredient sounding louder than the rest of the drums. Drummer Travis Smith has progressed in his natural style of playing, which isn't a bad thing.
The album is definately the best Trivium effort to date. It's dark though modern, it's heavy though melodic, it's probably best described as Heafy metal, just to avoid everyone getting pissed off at you for not naming the genre right...