In Waves

Written by: AP on 28/10/2011 22:45:11

Trivium have often unfairly been likened to Bullet for My Valentine because of their swift rise to stardom, not to mention main man Matt Heafy's love of classic heavy metal and thrash. But while their British partners in crime sacrificed their integrity for shameless idolatry a long time ago, Trivium have consistently released solid albums without sidelining their dignity, successfully toying with a variety of styles ranging from metalcore to progressive, heavy and thrash metal on each consecutive album since their breakthrough, "Ascendancy", in 2005.

But upon releasing the towering "Shogun" two years ago, it became clear that Trivium would have a difficult time ever surpassing its grandeur. Their fifth album, "In Waves", certainly adds weight to this hypothesis, coming across to me as their weakest release yet. On it Trivium backtrack from the progressive tendencies of its predecessor to forge a sound that is best described as two thirds "Ascendancy" and one third "Shogun"; the piercing screams those familiar with Trivium's earlier material are once again used in abundance - some songs even feature no clean vocals at all (see "Dusk Dismantled" and "A Skyline's Severance") - contrasting the more melodic vocalization employed on "The Crusade" and "Shogun", and the scope of the songs has largely been scaled down to a more immediate, radio- and concert-friendly format best exemplified by the stadium size call to arms "Built to Fall".

Unfortunately the album emits an overwhelming feeling that Trivium are running out of ideas, as even the most memorable songs such as "In Waves", "Inception of the End" and "Watch the World Burn" lack the passion and power of past maidens. Almost immediately one notices that the instrumentation has been simplified for mass appeal, making songs like "Pull Harder on the Strings of Your Martyr" but a distant memory, while the vocal hooks are less striking and consist of the weakest lyrics Heafy has written to this day. All this has of course been a calculated effort to recruit even more fans - now from the mainstream of metal - to Trivium's enormous following, and there is no denying that these songs will be embraced by said fans, especially in the live setting.

Indeed, "In Waves" sounds and feels like the kind of album that people buy after a concert so as to reminisce about the gargantuan sing-alongs that took place, much in the same way that people don't buy GWAR's albums in order to discuss the songwriting prowess and skill of musicianship underlying. Granted, it is perhaps not in order to compare the two bands given that Trivium excel in writing songs that quite frankly slay live and offer at least moderate rewards on albums too, but the point is that "In Waves" fails to provide anything beyond that, in stark contrast with previous albums. Even the best parts of "In Waves" are limited by a thin, rigid construct.

In a sense then, "In Waves" combines not the best aspects of "Ascendancy" and "Shogun", but comes across like a collection of scrap left over from the recording sessions behind those albums - with a few exceptions of course: "Forsake Not the Dream" is great, if not fantastic. As such, when the promotional material claims that it encompasses boundary-defying music, moods, movement and visuals that is emblematic of the band's evolution, it's hard not to stretch a sarcastic smile, knowing that the level of progression here is at best akin to label mates Killswitch Engage over the years.


Download: In Waves, Inception of the End, Built to Fall, Forsake Not the Dream
For the fans of: Across the Sun, Killswitch Engage, Rise to Remain
Listen: Facebook

Release date 09.08.2011
Roadrunner Records

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