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Trivium Ascendancy

By Mick Stingley, Contributor
Thursday, March 17, 2005 @ 11:56 AM


(Roadrunner)

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Microsoft Word lists synonyms for “ascendancy” as: dominance, superiority, pre-eminence, power, upper-hand, and control. The Oxford English Dictionary (Second Edition) lists “trivium” as: a place where three ways meet. The RoadRunner press letter introducing the band’s label-debut calls Trivium: “balls-to-the-wall, gets-your-heart-racing and mind-tingling music” (emphasis mine).

Yeah, okay, but it still sounds like metalcore to me. Not a big fan of metalcore, but this album sure is growing on me.

The good news is that this isn’t the bullshit candy-ass fanny-pack wearing sensitive crap that sounds like a ClearChannel programmer asked all the major labels to deliver more records that sound “like 3 Doors Down, but, you know, kinda heavied-up for the kids.”

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Returning to the definitions of “trivium,” the three things that mark this band are: #1 brutal, speedy songs; #2 an affinity for Steve Harris and Jon Schaffer; and #3 they’re not Killswitch Engage.

So, good: that’s where Trivium comes together. There is a lot of power here, too. This band rocks like they’ve been listening to Iron Maiden and Iced Earth A LOT. Granted, they’re pretty young and play the music reflective of the times, however, they clearly embrace their influences. It takes chops to play leads like Maiden, (listen to the song “Drowned and Torn Asunder”) and crafting songs like Iced Earth isn’t for fools. These guys are really talented players and the record becomes very exciting once the listener (especially the listener in his mid-30s) manages to get past the throaty barking/sorrowful clear melodies that constitute much of what passes for “metalcore” these days. Trivium doesn’t traffic in this so much as other bands who make a once-exciting style seem so bloody contrived. Trivium is more focused on ferociously rocking the listener by blending speed with harcore-meets-death-metal vox and the clarity of dueling guitars. Double-bass drums, that whole galloping of a great Maiden tune, a little Matt Barlow ballading here and there… only faster and shit. Yeah, Trivium is pretty goddamn great.

The album opens with an acoustic guitar and piano piece and goes right into a blazing riff on “Rain.” This song is pretty good for the first minute, then goes into that uplifting-chant/chorus-thing that Sevendust owned and no one has come close to since. So, it’s okay, but Trivium really start to come alive on “Pull Harder on the Strings of Your Martyr.” The song is just an awesome spectacle of drums and raining Maiden-esque guitars… the vocals roar into a righteous Matt Barlow-era Iced Earth thing; then breaks back into riffing and pounding and beautiful leads. Good stuff. “Departure” is a great song too, along with the charging 7-minute “Declaration.”

Most of the songs on here are as heavy and cool as that, until you get to track 8: “Dying in Your Arms” fully sounds like something you’ll be hearing on your local 99X. I don’t like it at all, even though the leads are kinda cool. If this song is your exposure to this band, don’t let it keep you from checking out the rest of the disc, as there’s much heavier stuff on here. Keep in mind a couple of guys in this band aren’t even old enough to drink legally… when you hear the ripping guitars on this record, it’s almost forgivable if they have a radio single. Better them than some overexposed band you can’t believe in. This is the perfect band to draw older metal fans into the game with what the kids are listening to these days, without condescension. And, hey -- these guys have a cool logo (sort of a biohazard circle on a dagger) that’s good for drawing on your notebooks while killing time during detention or your anger-management classes.

Trivium is pretty fucking cool, and it will be nice to see if these guys are as good live. Looking forward to it, actually.

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