Trivium – Ascendancy Review

Roadrunner Records

It’s a riff-heavy, double-bass filled sonic assault that features aggressive yet melodic singing.

It’s the newest wave of American heavy metal, a movement that features bands like Lamb of God, Killswitch Engage and Shadows Fall at the helm.

Well, you can add one more name to the list: Florida’s Trivium.

The band’s second album (the group’s Roadrunner debut), “Ascendancy,” is filled with all the trademarks of a solid metal album. In fact, the album is probably one of the best (pure) metal releases to hit shelves in a while (possibly since Lamb of God’s release last summer).

The one-two attack of dueling guitar from lead vocalist Matt Heafy and guitarist Corey Beaulieu is one of the album’s higlights, and the two seemed pretty eager to stick as much heavy riff-age and hard-hitting solos as they could into each song. The two are kept on track by drummer Travis Smith and bassist Paolo Gregoletto, who not only work off each other quite well, but lay down some truly destructive beats that take center stage at times (especially in a bludgeoning bridge towards the end of “Rain”) and outshine the rest of the band’s sound.

Production wise, the album really shines, as each part of the band melds together into a crushing machine — the thunderous beats, the riff-heavy guitar work and the interplay of melodic and scratchy vocals (courtesy Heafy, Beaulieu and Gregoletto).

Opening with a brief instrumental (that also features a piano), the album lulls listeners into a false sense of ease. “The End of Everything” soon gives way to the chunky riffs and machine-gun beats of “Rain.” Heafy growls out his lyrics like a general leading a charge, though the Trivium vocal “sound” soon rears it’s head in the chorus: throaty melody with more “clean” backing vocals (or vice verse).

“Ascendancy” is such a strong metal release, incorporating more contemporary metal elements in its sound, but still maintaining a classic (Priest or Maiden) feel. “Rain” grabs the listener, but “Ascendancy” doesn’t allow a moment of air, maintaining the assault throughout: “Pull Harder on the Strings of Your Martyr” (with its crushing pre-chorus); the blistering opening to “Drowned and Torn Asunder” along with the intricate guitar-work behind the chorus; the urgent nature of the title-track; the nod to the European metal scene on “Suffocating Sight.” Track after track, “Ascendancy” comes across as a hit. Even the slightly out of place, more melodic “Dying in Your Arms” (a track the band had to push to have included on the album), with its unique tempo and hook-filled verses, sounds like a homerun.

Nothing on this album sounds like a radio track, yet everything sounds like a hit. “Ascendancy” is a welcome release from Roadrunner, a label built on metal that seems to have faltered at times in the past couple of years.

It’s completely insane tracks like “A Gunshot to the Head of Trepidation,” a song that turns on a dime from an metal juggernaut to a time-capsule from the 80s, the interesting “Dying in Your Arms,” the choking “Suffocating Sight” and the amazing solos in songs like “Like Light to the Flies” that will make this one of the best albums of the year. Buy “Ascendancy” for the sheer metal bliss; overdose on the amazing guitar work throughout the album, feast on the spot-on vocals and bang your head to the sick beats overflowing in every track. This is an album not to be missed.

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