01. Capsizing The Sea
02. In Waves
03. Inception of the End
04. Watch the World Burn
05. Dusk Dismantled
07. Built to Fall
08. Caustic Are the Ties That Bind
09. A Skyline’s Severance
10. Forsake Not the Dream
11. Of All These Yesterdays
12. Chaos Reigns
13. Leaving This World Behind
Even though a lot of people like Trivium for their sophomore album, Ascendancy, the pinnacle of their work so far was most definitely their 2008 album Shogun, being a very progressive album that was barely even metalcore. Overcoming the pressure of a singular album that has gained the attention of so many isn’t an easy task. Many fans were demanding a return to Ascendancy‘s bare style (it was, after all, probably the best metalcore album ever [and this editor agrees – JR]), and singer/guitarist/songwriter Matt Heafy announced In Waves will be the much sought “return to form”. While they did tone down the riff and song complexity, there are still the melodic and epic undertones of Shogun, but wrapped in a more simplistic shell—but saying only that is underselling the album.
The intro track, “Capsizing the Sea”, is basically a prelude to “In Waves”, but it is also heavily reminiscent of “The End of Everything”, the intro track to Ascendancy. That’s where the resemblance ends, though. “In Waves” is a very groove-oriented track, unlike most of Trivium’s older material. Matt growls over the staccato riff that repeats throughout the song, and he sings over the rest of the parts. One thing that is immediately noticeable is that his singing voice is better than ever. The riffs are catchy, and the solos are good—not insanely shreddy but in line with the rest of the music. Drummer Nick Augusto is clearly way better than Travis, as he adds a lot to the songs. Weirdly, some songs have very few riffs. Songs like “Dusk Dismantled”, “In Waves” and “Black” are heavily based on one central theme that repeats many times. This contrasts with Ascendancy‘s theme where the main riffs were usually a riff that progresses over a few measures, whereas here the riffs just repeat. Coupled with the lack of energy that some songs seem to have, this makes the album slightly tough to listen at times. However, each song has something going for it, they all have a unique twist, something that sets them apart from the other songs. There’s a lot of exploration going on in the album, with many riffs that are different from Trivium’s usual style spicing songs up. The guitars are great, but it’s Matt’s vocals that makes most songs click.
The songs are great and they’re all memorable, but it feels like something is lacking at times. There are exceptions; “Caustic Are The Ties That Bind” has a long melodic interlude, “Forsake Not The Dream” is probably the best track on the album with its energy and inspired riffing, and “Watch The World Burn” is similarly engaging. “Inception Of The End” sounds very much like an As I Lay Dying track, but Matt’s vocals make it more interesting than that and put the unique Trivium spin on it. Speaking of vocals, another thing about the album is that Matt uses growls very scarcely on the album. Many songs are all-clean, and most of the rest only have a few occasional growls. It’s all well done, and I’m not saying he should always growl—his clean voice is awesome and he pulled it off on The Crusade and Shogun—but sometimes the songs sound like they could have used some more intensity.
That’s the only problem with this album—it’s not that intense. The songs are all great, but not amazing. They’re all very melodic and memorable, way better than any other metalcore outfit (is this even metalcore? There aren’t any breakdowns or many other metalcore tropes, this is more like heavy metal), but below Trivium’s standards. When they actually go into full gear, they’re amazing, but it’s like they’re holding back on purpose. This is basically like Metallica‘s Black album. All great songs, but taken down a notch from their previous releases. Considering how good Ascendancy and Shogun were, this album seems a bit inferior at first. However, if viewed independently, this is a great album. Maybe I’ve sounded a bit negative during this review, but that’s because I expected too much from Trivium. Regardless of my exceptions, they’re still the best of their genre and at the top of their game.
One thing to note is that the special edition of the album contains several great songs (some are better than some tracks on the actual album) in typical Trivium fashion. So getting that version should be a priority if possible.