Review Summary: Overall, "Ascendancy" is a great album. It helped push Trivium into the realm of the great modern metal bands. It sets a high standard for Trivium's future releases, and they don't disappoint.
Ascendancy is an album seen by many metalheads as a great staple in modern metalcore, and to avid Trivium fans as the quartet's celebrated breakthrough album. Certified in Great Britain with Gold status by attaining 100,000+ sales and named "Album Of The Year" by Kerrang! Magazine, Ascendancy assaults the listener's ears with epic riffs, commanding vocals, powerful drumming, creative bass, and unforgettable soloing.
The album opens up with The End Of Everything(ironically), which is a short but sweet track consisting of acoustic guitar and piano. This eerie minute-long track decisively leads into the popular powerhouse track, Rain. Rain begins with a riff that revs up the awaiting moshing for any live set this song is featured in. It then speeds up considerably with the drums and continues in verse. The song stays strong and fast throughout then towards the end has an eye-opening solo followed by a bone-crushing breakdown.
The third track is what many would claim to be Trivium's most popular song to date, "Pull Harder On The Strings Of Your Martyr" is the second single released on Ascendancy, and starts out with an imperceivable drum beat laced with quick double-bass and a fill throughout that leaves drum fanatics screaming expletives at their stereos. This beat continues with the lashing riffs before it opens up to a verse that could convince an army to march to the gates of hell(referencing Trivium's 4th album song). The chorus attacks with a devious chant for any Trivium fan to go insane over. Later in the song there's an amazing breakdown that enhances any live experience, leaving fanatics with shattered jaws and bloodied eyes. And this just in time for an epic solo that tops off this monster of a song. The song then returns to chorus, afterwards going out on the same drum beat it opened up on.
The next song is one of my personal favorites, "Drowned And Torn Asunder" is a well-placed track on the album, after the ear-ripping "Pull Harder". It is recognizable with creative riffing(like most of the album) and particularly catchy drumming, it's one of Travis Smith's greatest drum performances on the album. The chorus on this song is an epic depiction of the potential in Heafy's clean singing ability and shines greatly. After the second chorus is slows down to cool dual riffing then a solo that seems to take the listener on a hypothetical journey through a land formed by the creative mind of Trivium as a whole.
The album-title track is a good performance, opening with a melodic riff which begins to offer the lighter alternative to the first 3 full tracks, yet still instilling the quick pace and keeping the listener tuned throughout the song. The clean vocals in the chorus give an epic image of the lyrics within it. "Ascend above the ashes of the worlds I once knew. Ascendancy is the only thing this will prove." This song also includes another solo, which like the rest of the song is way more melodic than the previous ones.
The 6th song on the album serves as the anthem track on the album, showed by the heavier sound and strong lyrical concept. "A Gunshot To The Head Of Trepidation" is a good song to mosh throughout, until it reaches it's obvious climax. That climax being a solo that rings throughout the rest of the album and the minds of a pious metalhead as one of the greatest metalcore solos in this generation of metal. The drawn out solo features a solo from both Heafy and the co-lead guitarist, Corey Beaulieu, then a part with the two playing the same riff. After the unforgettable solo, the rest of the song sort of drags on to an end. It was the 3rd single release off of the album.
"Like Light To The Flies" is a song that many metalheads know when they think of Trivium, but unbeknownst to them, the version of this song on the original album is TERRIBLE when compared to the version that I first heard. Now, by no means is this song mediocre, it's easily one of the best on the album. But if the full version of the song with the same sound as the version the music video(I assure you, it exists), it probably would've been the very best(if not a close second to "Pull Harder"). It was also the first single released off of "Ascendancy" and attained it's initial popularity through that act.
"Dying In Your Arms" is easily the lightest song on "Ascendancy", and shows Trivium's strong potential to take a turn into the mainstream alternative light of metal(although they would've been amazing there as well, i'm glad they didn't make that move.). The riffing on this track in particular, although one of the easiest of Trivium's creations, is my favorite on the album. The song is primarily sung, with only one verse and the very last repeated line "Set me free" screamed. I enjoyed it, it made sure to show the flexibility of the album and keeps the listener interested.
The next song, "The Deceived", was a song taken off of the first release(Ember To Inferno). It was originally not even on the 1st album, it was featured on the band's self titled EP and put on the re-release of the album in 2005. For good reason, in my opinion, because it's the least impressive song on the entire original release of "Ascendancy" other than a couple drumming parts which I will duely note, is a great performance. Trivium could've picked a better song if they wanted to put a track from the first album or the EP onto their second release. "Suffocating Sight" begins with a thrashy breakdown that really gets any listener's attention with ease. Overall it is a very good track that is often underestimated when wading through the fodder. It's definitely worth a second listen.
The semi-final track on the original release really stands out to me. "Departure" is the song where Heafy's vocal performance shines out the very most, singing and screaming. The lyrics have strong emotion within them and Heafy really screams them out with everything he has. It stays on a melancholy, slow pace which is relatively more chill than the rest of the album. The concluding track, "Declaration" is a very suitable song to put at the end of the original release, it's the longest song on the album by a minute, and really showcases everything shown before it in the album. The eerieness, the heaviest parts, the lightest parts, and of course the talent that never ceases to glow throughout the entire album.
On the special edition of "Ascendancy", 4 extra songs were included. In order: Blinding Tears Will Break The Skies, Washing Away Me In The Tides, Master Of Puppets(Metallica), and Dying In Your Arms(Video Mix).
"Blinding Tears Will Break The Skies" was, like "The Deceived", originally only on the Trivium EP, but re-recorded for the second release. And also like "The Deceived", they could've chosen a better track to re-release, because it impresses me even less than "The Deceived" does. However, "Washing Away Me In The Tides" is a very great track, the riffing stands out as well as the vocals and in my opinion could've even been deemed a single. It's overall very catchy and really serves well as an anthem. Trivium's cover of "Master Of Puppets" is almost too good, and serves as proof for any Trivium critic that Trivium is a Metallica rip, these claims are b.s. to me, because any band you look at has heavy influences from their predecessors. And since these legends accomplished most things already, it's hard not to mirror them at times. The last track on the re-release is a video mix of the single, "Dying In Your Arms". This re-make of the song opens up with a synthetic piano part, which serves as a great enhancement for the opening riff of the song. You'd think that this would make the song much more enjoyable, but to my disdain and likely the same to others, it is ruined by the tambourine included on the chorus. It is a huge disappointment, because quite frankly, it makes the song just gay.
-Amazing guitar work
-Powerful vocal performance throughout
-Lyrical concept is strong
-Some material seems like filler
-Riffing is repetitive at times
-Re-release relatively unimpressive
Clean Vocals(Matt Heafy & Paolo Gregoletto): 9/10
Screamed Vocals(Matt Heafy & Corey Beaulieu): 10/10
Guitars(Matt Heafy & Corey Beaulieu): 9.5/10
Bass(Paolo Gregoletto): 7/10
Drums(Travis Smith): 8/10
The End Of Everything: 7/10
Pull Harder On The Strings Of Your Martyr: 10/10
Drowned And Torn Asunder: 8/10
A Gunshot To The Head Of Trepidation: 9/10
Like Light To The Flies(Album Version): 7.5/10
Like Light To The Flies(Good Version, not on the album): 9.5/10
Dying In Your Arms: 10/10
The Deceived: 6/10
Suffocating Sight: 7.5/10
Blinding Tears Will Break The Skies: 5/10
Washing Away Me In The Tides: 8.5/10
Master Of Puppet: 7/10
Dying In Your Arms(Video Mix): 6.5/10