I thought Trivium’s debut Ashes to Inferno held a lot of promise and so did Roadrunner apparently, snapping them up to try and reinvigorate their flagging metal roster, and they picked a good band to do it as Trivium seem while possibly herded under the vast metalcore banner, would actually seem to fit in with the likes of Lamb of God, Shadows Fall and God Forbid in the “American metal” category as they add solid doses of thrash, heavy metal and progressive metal into their repertoire. But does it all stick together? Well I’m not sure. The baby faced Matt Heafy and his talented cohorts certainly wield their musical skills with gusto with a pretty continual array of swirling riffs and supine solos, but I never get the impression that the album is a collaboration of “actual” songs, but rather a collection of killer riffs and superb solos that seemingly bleed together.With Andy Sneap’s mastering job, you know it sounds good and all of Heafy’s spotlight grabbing moments are exquisite to listen too, but after a while, they all sound the same, and bar a few choruses the impact of what is a essentially a talent showcase is surprisingly short term. Sure, “Rain” opens things up you get pretty excited about the abundance of high energy thrash riffs and driving percussion, and the excitement remains for “Pull Harder on the Strings of Your Martyr” and the slightly tempered “Drowned and Torn Asunder,” but by the time the rather bland title track rolls by I’m hard pressed to recall anything I’ve listened to so far and don’t have much of a desire to revisit them. It’s a sort of forced “oh, that’s… nice” response you give when you receive you 14th crystal or silverware gift for your wedding; it’s all very shiny, pretty and expensive but really a bit pointless.

I’m actually trying pretty hard not to knock this album, because it simply doesn’t deserve it due to the sheer class of the musicianship and the success I have a feeling it will no doubt reap and make me look like a grumpy asshole. The mid-section of the album is able to hold my attention better as “A Gunshot to the Head of Trepidation” (complete with the odd but old school shouted “Hey! Hey! Hey!” break) and single /video track “Like Light to the Flies” seem slightly less superficial and have some heart to their glossy exterior, and the chorus to “Like Light to the Flies” was about the only moment that stuck in my head after hitting stop (“Bleeding out the eeeeeeeeeeeeeeyes!”).

However, after that, the album seems to kind of repeat itself, as tracks like “The Deceived” and “Departure” could well have been the first three or four tracks played over again and I may not have even noticed. Again, not because they are bad tracks, but because the structure of the songs all seem so familiar and in a hurry to dive into a soaring solo or clean chorus break rather than let us enjoy some of the riffing.

I’d like to reiterate the top notch musicianship, especially guitarist Heafy and Cory Beaulieu who shred with the best of them, but at 55 minutes, it gets bit repetitive. Trivium are also smart, deftly avoiding the pure metalcore tag that could potentially lump them in with the other thousands of like minded bands and with added progressive twist and thrash elements do give themselves a tangible identity and wider appeal.

When all is said and done Ascendancy is a still undeniably good album that should get lots of praise, and deservedly so, but to the slightly more ardent, careful listener not swayed by musical illusionary tactics, Trivium still have to room to grow, and when they do, watch out.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
March 18th, 2005


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