Every time I come across a new TRIVIUM album across my desk for review, I smile greater than I do with many others. I tell the story frequently and it’s merely for my own kick since the band did it all on their own and then some. Yet I called it in the parking lot behind the now-closed Recher Theatre in Towson, Maryland in the winter between 2003 and 2004. I watched TRIVIUM in their late teens open for ICED EARTH and I knew destiny when I saw it. I approached Corey Beaulieu and Matt Heafy and spoke with them at great length for the evening, delivering my prophecy to each: “You guys are gonna be huge, I promise.” As I tell my son, when I make a promise to him, it comes true. So too did my promise with TRIVIUM.
I have seen very few rising metal bands since with that level of zealousness. TRIVIUM wanted it, and the band has damned well earned every accolade and every fan it has made in the past two decades. It’s hard to believe so much time has passed already, and that those eager-to-belong kids are now respected men, masters of their craft. Though the group has fallen under the gun for stylistic changes and leanings toward softer styles of metalcore, TRIVIUM has done its thing, respecting its own whims and design. It all culminates in this year’s “The Sin and the Sentence”. It’s an album that encompasses the group’s entire career; one that manages to blow listeners away with the same prog-punctuating awesomeness as 2008’s “Shogun”.
“The Sin and the Sentence” will delight longtime fans with the return of the yelling—a lot of it—accompanied by backup gang shouting, hardcore-style. Much of Matt Heafy‘s clean vocals sound so remarkably mature—placing his long-ago adolescence inside a proverbial glass case like Batman does with retired Robin costumes—there’s a lot of controlled rage emitting from the man here. Yes, TRIVIUM has routinely played at a high level, and on this album its progressive elements make a monster return. Much needed, considering there is still a basic set of metalcore and agro-pop scripts being played out to the hilt. Then there’s the addition of ex-BATTLECROSS drummer Alex Bent, who pulls Matt Heafy, Corey Beaulieu and Paolo Gregoletto to a new standard. TRIVIUM has always had very good drummers, but never someone of Alex Bent‘s caliber. Here he not only expands the band’s possibilities, he propels the group. In a much nicer connotation, the group gets “Bent.”
The agro ballad, “The Heart from Your Hate”, and the proto pop sway of “Endless Night” are obligatory singles cuts, otherwise dismissible in light of the marvelously compound spectacles of “Thrown into the Fire”, “Betrayer”, “Beyond Oblivion”, “Sever the Hand” and “The Revanchist”. Each of these songs explode from the conventional rock and proto-core constructs harnessed within and ultimately dazzle like this band has something to prove again.
The title track shows off Alex Bent‘s blasting capabilities as the guitars and bass blossom overtop his railing in the song’s intro. Matt Heafy‘s rugged suaveness is as confident as the blitzing and thundering tempos Bent serves up for him. When the band drops in a neoclassical swirl through a gorgeous tag solo section, it’s a moment of grace, taking a distant swing away from KILLSWITCH ENGAGE, to which this number must inevitably be compared.
“Other Worlds” at first leans upon a moody metalcore march with a murky pock of THE DEFTONES squeezed into the verses before jerking the track to a honeyed set of choruses. By this time, the listener has already counted on TRIVIUM to buck the system with more ornate progressions, which they do, but here they gently pirouette on the edges of Paolo Gregoletto‘s bass waves. Paolo also gets the heaviest attention on the meaty agro stomper “The Wretchedness Inside”, a song delivered with heft, in particular when Alex Bent spikes the nut-busting rhythm.
“Sever the Hand” is one of the loudest and cleverest numbers on the album, making the most of angst and melody with a catchy chorus and superb soloing. TRIVIUM then goes back to the “Shogun” spirit of invention and progs the tar out of “Sever the Hand” en route to a wall of gang shouts and a reprise of the gluey chorus. “Beauty and the Sorrow” thereafter gives the band’s listeners all they can chew on before the main melody emerges, dropping even more ear candy and interchanging signatures all the way to close.
TRIVIUM‘s fullest thrashing, chomping, grinding, shredding, soaring nad progging capacities are all but held in reserve for an electrifying finale with “The Revanchist” and “Thrown into the Fire”. The Hendrix-saluting, wah-screeching solos on “Thrown into the Fire” are beyond exquisite.
A frequently debated band that has long emerged as one of its generation’s absolute finest, TRIVIUM gives its all on “The Sin and the Sentence”. The unit may be trapped by certain songwriting restrictions which aren’t for everybody, but it makes an enormous impression here with outstanding performances and a drumming debut that opens a new chapter of greatness.