Review Summary: A not-quite-golden return to 'The Era of Thrash'.7 of 7 thought this review was well written
Two years ago, Trivium were very much an underground band. After only one full-length release, the hidden gem that was Ember To Inferno
, and a demo showcasing second album Ascendancy
, word of mouth slowly reached the point where organisers of the Download festival of 2005 shoved them onto the opening slot of the main stage, Saturday morning. This set made Trivium, and put their star well and truely in the, er, Ascendancy. Trivium here return with their third full-length album, The Crusade
, which, it's fair to say, is at best pushing it's luck.
The album opens with it's intents clear from the first note of Ignition
, and wastes no time in announcing a huge change in musical style for Trivium. Whereas Ember To Inferno and Ascendancy are shamelessly American metalcore, The Crusade takes the band in a more 'classic' direction, they seem to be trying to emulate the golden era of 80's thrash. And while it's a decent attempt, it falls short of its rather lofty aims, and in doing so sounds a bit throwaway and forgettable.
Aforementioned opening track Ignition
demonstrates vocalist Matt Heafy's ever-so-slight (Okay, huge) change in his approach to his vocals perfectly. While Ascendancy saw some clean vocals, mostly in the choruses, in Ignition
and indeed the rest of The Crusade
he takes this clean vocal style and uses it for the entire song/album. The end result is something of a slightly weak James Hetfield soundalike, and threatens to ruin the album from the word go. Detonation
shows a slightly death-metal influenced riff, however soon brings it back down to slightly sub-standard early Metallica fare with Heafy's vocals. The song does, however, pick up dramatically after the first guitar solo, where the already clean vocals are actually used to good effect for the first and one of only three times on the entire album.
for the majority continues in this vein, with songs like Entrance of the Conflagration
and Contempt Breeds Contamination
being diluted from great to merely good by the vocals. The only songs on the album that I can truely recommend as being brilliant are To The Rats
and Tread The Floods
, which both contain the clean vocals, but utilise them well, as well as containing good, interesting riffs and frankly absurdly good drum work.
Ah, the drumming. Here's another gripe. (There's a lot of gripes, trust me.) Travis Smith is an extremely talented drummer. Anyone who appreciates modern metal can appreciate that he is a fantastic player. However this album sees his previously pulverising double bass and original technique severely diluted into simple, very Lars Ulrich-esque beats for the majority. This is a crying shame as his playing is the main joy of previous Trivium work.
The guitar work is another problem with The Crusade
that I have. While it is good, in places fantastic, it is such a change from the Trivium style that I loved in the first place that it threatened to alienate me from the band entirely at first. It's again taking far too much inspiration from early Metallica, and to be honest, quite a lot of the riffs are simply recycled. This is taken to the extreme on Unrepentant
, which contains a main riff that actually IS Metallica's Through The Never
The last gripes are the songs This World Can't Tear Us Apart
, [Anthem (We Are The Fire)[/i] and The Rising
. The latter two are absolutely terrible attempts at singalong rock songs in the vein of Motley Crue. They fall flat on their faces and come across as very, very poor indeed. The former, while being in the same sort of vein for this album as Dying In Your Arms
was for Ascendancy
, is nowhere near as good, and the lyrics are frankly terrible. Matt Heafy cannot write love songs.
All of these faults, however, are not to say the album is utterly terrible as a whole. The album may indeed fall short of its inspirations, but almost anything would, to be fair. The songs Trivium have with this album are by no stretch of the imagination awful. They are, for the majority (The exceptions being the songs mentioned in the above paragraph) enjoyable songs, stopped from being great by Matt Heafy's love of Hetfield being taken one step too far. Entrance of the Conflagration
and Becoming the Dragon
are perfect examples of this.
The album as a whole is simply Trivium's attempt at returning to the 80's Golden Era of Thrash that made them love metal at all. While it's a decent attempt, any band wanting to seriously recreate that era has to do it with more originality, less Metallica ripping-off and just do it better than Trivium have.
Entrance of the Conflagration
To The Rats
Tread The Floods