Review Summary: This album deserves MUCH more credit than most fans are giving it, but naturally it's not quite as amazing as Shogun. Then again, what is?
In Waves starts out with "Capsizing the Sea", which is honestly a pretty pointless intro. It almost sounds like something off of a Nine Inch Nails album, which wouldn't be a bad thing, if it weren't for the fact that this is Trivium we're talking about. However, things get MUCH better from there. The first song proper, In Waves, was the first single from the album, and remains one of my personal favorites.
The first thing you'll notice is that the opening riff has much more of a pop-mosh feeling. It seems like something from one of the many "core" bands out these days. However, upon further listen, you'll see that this change in instrumental style fits Trivium quite well, and that much of Matt and Corey's unmistakable style remains.
As the album continues, each song stands out as an individual piece of work, which is a rare thing to find in modern heavy music. I can honestly go through the entire album, and not feel like all of the tracks are just running together. It's not that the album isn't coherent, because it definitely is. It's just that Trivium manages to add just the right amount of a twist to each track to make them all unique and interesting in their own way.
Songs that stood out to me in particular were "Dusk Dismantled", which is one of their most bone-crushingly heavy songs to date, "Watch the World Burn", which has one of the catchiest hooks I've heard on a metal album in a long time, and "Forsake Not the Dream." The latter is especially unique and incredible. It starts out with a heavily punk inspired riff, and takes off from there into a blend of genres that I can't even describe using words alone. The song has what, in my opinion, could be the best riffs and harmonies that Matt and Corey have ever written. It also has what is by far the most incredible solo on the album. It's not particularly insane as far as the technicality goes, it just sounds freaking cool! Just wait until towards the end of the song, when a random blastbeat from Nick Augusto will catch you off guard, in a good way. It was one of those moments on the album where I just had to blurt out "THAT WAS SO AWESOME!".
Trivium has once again taken all of their past styles and blended them into an onslaught of incredible guitar work, catchy and heavy drum beats, bass work that compliments the former two perfectly, and incredible vocal work from Matt Heafy. In fact, Matt's vocals seem to have improved a lot even from Shogun, especially his clean vocals. I've been a huge fan of his vocal work on every album except for the Crusade, but I can honestly say that In Waves tops all of his previous efforts.
Many fans seem to think that Trivium's new sound is too mainstream friendly, however, I can't help but disagree. Granted, there are a couple songs that I believe could find their way onto a hard rock or metal station, but definitely not your local mainstream rock radio. They're still just too heavy for the mainstream, even with some definite poppier influences on some of the tracks. The only tracks on the album that probably wouldn't be far too heavy for your casual rock fan are "A Grey So Dark" and "Of All These Yesterdays", which is my personal least favorite track on the album, besides the intro.
All in all, I personally have fallen in love with this album. Is it quite as amazing as Shogun" Not quite, but in my opinion, Shogun is one of the top contenders for the best modern metal album in existence, so I didn't expect In Waves to top it. If you listen to the album with expectations for exactly what it is, the next installment in Trivium's ever-growing repertoire of amazing metal, and not a clone of Shogun, nor a return to Descendancy or the Crusade, then you should come away very satisfied with the experience.
Top Song Recommendations:
1. Forsake Not the Dream
2. In Waves
3. Dusk Dismantled
4. Watch the World Burn
5. Shattering the Skies Above (although this was technically out before the album)