Review Summary: Aside from a few standout tracks, Ember to Inferno is often repetitive and boring, even if it does show a lot of promise.
*Note: I am reviewing the complete Trivium discography. This is part 1.
Before all the hype surrounding them began to surface, before anyone expected anything out of them, before critics described them as America’s best (or possibly worst) metal band, Trivium were quietly releasing Ember to Inferno on German label Lifeforce Records. Inexperienced in the music industry, the band nonetheless released their debut album very quickly, less than a year after their self-titled demo. Perhaps for this reason, Ember to Inferno often seems repetitive and suffers from poor production. However, a few songs are quite creative and well performed, saving the album from being absolutely worthless.
In 2003, Trivium is:
Matt Heafy – electric guitar, vocals, classical guitar
Travis Smith – drums
Brent Young – bass
Also appearing on this album are:
George Moore – acoustic guitar
Jason Suecof – keyboards, vocals
One thing that may be hard to become accustomed to at first is the production, handled by Jason Suecof, who also mixed and engineered the album. However, considering that this is only Trivium’s first album, this is not a major problem. Metalcore contemporaries Killswitch Engage and All That Remains both suffered from sub-par production on their first albums, and even groups like In Flames and Opeth once faced this problem. Therefore, the production, while ultimately hurting the album, is forgivable.
What is not so forgivable is the actual content of the album, which frequently feels uninspired and repetitive. This is not so bad on a song-by-song basis, but it negatively affects the album as a whole. For example, take the album’s second track, “Pillars of Serpents.” The song itself is fairly well written; it is frenetic and fast-paced, creating a dark and angry mood. However, listening to the next few tracks, listeners will get the impression that the album is simply repeating itself based on one or two tracks. This is not because material is recycled, but rather because the riffs are often uninspired. This makes it quite difficult to listen to the album as a whole, while individual songs often seem simply average.
Considering that the band members were all in their late teens when the album was recorded, there are no real problems with the musicianship showcased here. However, many listeners may have a problem with the vocals of Matt Heafy, whose screaming is often very monotonous and whose singing is often nothing more than average. Because Heafy was originally accepted to the band as only a guitarist, this is somewhat forgivable, but the fact remains that listeners will have to put up with his voice for the nine tracks on the album that are not instrumental.
The three songs that are instrumental are actually well done. Two of them, Ashes and A View of Burning Empires, are postludes to other tracks on the album (Ember to Inferno and When All Light Dies, respectively). The third, Inception, the Bleeding Skies, is actually a segment of A View of Burning Empires played in reverse. The two songs serve as opener and closer to the album, and the concept is actually quite an interesting one.
In addition, a few other songs deserve to be highlighted. One is To Burn the Eye, which somehow manages to be the most original and interesting song as well as the longest. The others are two of the bonus tracks, Blinding Tears Will Break The Skies and The Deceived. These songs often receive more attention than the others, not because they are any more interesting, but because they have been re-recorded on Trivium’s sophomore album, Ascendancy. Fans of that album may wish to pick up the bonus edition of Ember to Inferno in order to compare the different versions. Besides that, however, the bonus tracks have nothing special to add to the album.
While a few tracks stand out from the rest, this is not a particularly interesting album. While it shows a lot of promise, it often fails to satisfy the listener and comes across as more boring than anything else. As a whole, Ember to Inferno is recommended for diehard Trivium fans only.
Recommended Tracks: “Pillars of Serpents,” “To Burn the Eye,” “A View of Burning Empires”
FINAL VERDICT: 2/5