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Trivium - "The Crusade" (CD)

Trivium - "The Crusade" CD cover image

"The Crusade" track listing:

1. Ignition
2. Detonation
3. Entrance of the Conflagration
4. Anthem (We Are The Fire)
5. Unrepentant
6. And Sadness Will Sear
7. Becoming the Dragon
8. To The Rats
9. This World Cna't Tear Us Apart
10. Tread the Floods
11. Contempt Breeds Contamination
12. The Rising
13. The Crusade

Reviewed by on October 18, 2006

"Trivium won’t be gaining favor with grind, death and black metal purists anytime soon, however, “The Crusade” may draw a crowd that had ignored the band's previous metal-core output: Metallica fans."

The bottom is about to fall out of the metalcore genre and noone knows this better than Trivium. They are in the exact position Korn were in a decade ago, before nu-metal began its five year stranglehold on rock radio. Just as Korn managed to pass off the rap-rock hot potato and maintain their popular relevance, Trivium foregoes the trappings of metalcore, favoring time tested post-thrash. Hot on the trail of the band's acclaimed 2005 album "Ascendency" comes "The Crusade." Trivium's latest offering is so heavily influenced by Metallica, there are brief moments where the two bands are indistinguishable. This transformation is due in large part to singer/guitarist Matt Heafy orphaning his adolescent metalcore shout. Heafy's clean vocals are now augmented with the tone and timber pioneered by James Hetfield during the "Ride the Lightning" era, on through the "Black Album" period. Guitar solos are more numerous, lengthy and intricate, while bass lines lumber or race as needed. Drummer Travis Smith mixes his signature machine gun rhythms with a power-metal stagger that can be likened to Metallica's "Sad But True." To remark that the resulting sound is derivative would be redundant but this should not infer that the material is lacking in variety or intensity.

Out of the gates, Trivium open with sneering guitar leads and stuttering rhythms before achieving greyhound speeds with "Ignition." Tried and true themes of repression, ignorance and war are addressed in a semi-cohesive rant that is relevant but unfocused. "The Rising" comes across like a modern, bottom heavy, Def Lepard. Similarly, "Anthem (We Are the Fire)" owes much of it's fervor to late 80's chant-alongs perfected by Guns N' Roses and Skid Row. "Detonation" is a multi-tempo affair that boasts "Master of Puppets" rhythm guitars while stating that the end times are indeed upon us. "Entrance of the Conflagration" reawakens the tone and temperament of "Ascendency" to superb effect. The grisly "Unrepentant," finds the band juggling somber choruses with furious verses. Metallica's disciples close with "The Crusade", an instrumental juggernaut of time changes that recall both "Orion" and "The Call of Ktulu".

For all his commendable effort, Heafy falls short of James Hetfield's hardened and fearsome voice from the mid 80's, sounding more earnest, youthful and even optimistic. Where Hetfield harbored a rage toward hopelessly futile situations, (war time dismemberment, addiction and imprisonment) Heafy sees his demons as something to be conquered, that determination shows itself often. It's conceivable that some fans will miss Heafy's metalcore bark and there are moments on "The Crusade" where it would have worked. In the interest of growth however, it was a wise decision to eradicate that temptation altogether. Further seperating Heafy from his mentor are sustained alt-metal vocal melodies and harmonies that split the difference between Filter, 30 Seconds to Mars and Tool. Astonishingly, the band's instrumental performances rarely come across as tired retreads of classic thrash standouts. The band have put a unique stamp on the genre and should be applauded for it. Recently Trivium have won over a sizable fan base with their chops, hooks and respectable touring eithic. The band won't be gaining favor with grind, death and black metal purists anytime soon, however, "The Crusade" may draw a crowd that had ignored the band's previous metalcore output: Metallica fans.

Highs: The most accessible thrash flavored record of the year. Crystal clear production, addictive hooks and the bands virtuosity and conviction are instantly gratifying while warranting repeated listens.

Lows: Some clumsy and off putting lyrics (“The Rising” and “To The Rats”) sound juvenile weighed against more mature statements made throughout the rest of the album.

Bottom line: “The Crusade” is largely devoid of the growing pains plaguing previous efforts and will likely be as important to Trivium’s discography as “Master of Puppets” is to Metallica.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)