Having shouldered the burden of being contemporary metal’s brightest shining hopes of the last decade, it was inevitable that something had to give for Trivium. Following the commercial success of, but critically divided responses to previous albums ‘The Crusade’ and ‘Shogan’, combined with the departure of drummer and founding member Travis Smith last year, many critics feared for the band’s future. Fast-forward to 2011 and with new drummer Nick Augusto safely in the fold, Trivium return with In Waves, their fifth full-length album.
Title track and lead single ‘In Waves’ marries punishing breakdowns to Matt Heafy’s soaring vocal harmonies with a new-found preciseness, a refinement born from both maturation and experience. The sheer intensity of sound lends credible brutality to Heafy’s clean vocals, whilst providing an appropriate backdrop to the lyrical apocalyptic context. Anthems ‘Watch The World Burn’ and ‘Built To Fail’s dual guitar assaults and tight licks exhibit Trivium’s talent for making heavy metal irresistibly catchy; a cohesion of watertight musicianship and slick production by way of enviable accessibility.
Whilst having always displayed a musical aptitude far beyond their years, ‘Chaos Reigns’ and ‘Leaving This World Behind’ demonstrate how the band have taken matters musically and vocally to the new level. Paolo Gregoletto’s thundering basslines growl with menace across the tracklisting, underpinning Heafy and Corey Beaulieu’s layered riffs with a purposeful focus, whilst Heafy’s vocals, whether clean or screaming, have never sounded so strong.
And it’s this sense of focus, rarely exhibited so consistently since their 2005 release Ascendancy, that makes In Waves such a hard-hitting achievement. The concentrated effort evident behind each track makes the album as a whole a powerful statement of intent, a suckerpunch of vitality into the genericism of American heavy metal. Trivium’s sensitivity to the contemporary trash and metalcore scenes is equal to their acknowledgment of their influences, whilst avoiding becoming another fawning homage to Metallica or Machine Head. ‘In Waves’ is completely their own, a band finally meeting their own high expectations.
Despite having never veered completely off track throughout their career, ‘In Waves’ is Trivium’s ascendancy of their prodigious roots, a triumphant rising from the ashes as a fully-formed metal behemoth.
For more information visit the official Trivium website.