The conversation surrounding Trivium is a pretty loaded one. A band that instantly rose to fame at a young age with music defined by talent and broad appeal is bound to attract some ire. Every subsequent album they’ve put out has changed their sound to some extent, and sometimes those changes were controversial among fans and the general audience alike. How does a band react to this? By just doing what they want. Trivium have soldiered on, releasing albums and touring consistently, and they have always found an audience. Yet, since 2008’s masterpiece Shogun, it felt like nothing they did really compared. Enter The Sin and the Sentence. This album isn’t Shogun 2.0, but it’s its own beast, and it signals a new paradigm for the band. After nearly a decade of musical soul searching by the band, it finally feels like they’ve reached a point of equilibrium, a new sound that fully utilizes their diverse sets of talents. Finally, the band’s potential is fully realized again.
On some level, The Sin and the Sentence sounds as different from Trivium’s prior work as ever. They’ve really gone out of their way to make this album stand out as much as possible. Silence in the Snow and Vengeance Falls, while not bad albums, often felt like they fell into patterns. Most songs followed a pretty basic structure, and repeated segments (especially choruses) quite often. There’s a lot more structural variety on this album, including long instrumental breaks in the middle of songs. Perhaps the most immediately noticeable change in their sound is the addition of drummer Alex Bent (Brain Drill, Arkaik). Early Trivium albums had Travis Smith, whose creativity left a mark on the band’s sound. Then, Nick Augusto brought a more ferocious style of playing to the mix. Alex combines the best of both worlds, using his death metal chops to elevate the music to an entirely new level. His snappy fills, fast double bass and blast beats give every song a much-needed energy.
The rest of the lineup (which is the core of Trivium) is also reinvigorated. Matt Heafy tries new vocal styles and stretches his voice farther than ever. And yes, there is screaming. A lot of it. The band have experimented previously with eliminating the screaming from their sound, and it generally hasn’t worked out for them. While a reduced amount can work—like on this album, which is comparable to Shogun in the amount of screaming, if not a bit sparser—the near-complete lack of it doesn’t. The band seem to have realized this, as they use it very well throughout the album. It brings a level of anger to the music that just can’t be conveyed otherwise. They experiment with screaming styles as well, at times sounding a lot rawer in a way that enhances the intensity.
And there are some intense moments on this album. The intro to “Beyond Oblivion,” the long instrumental break in “Sever the Hand,” the head-banging main riff of “The Wretchedness Inside” and the collection of moments on the last two tracks are some of the coolest heavy stuff they’ve written. But there’s more to the album than that. It really is their most varied album, with a couple of songs being more progressive, some crowd pleasers, some mosh pits songs, some heavy metal influenced. There are really no weak tracks on the album. The key to the sound of The Sin and the Sentence is that they’ve taken all the best elements from every one of their albums and found a way to make room for each of them throughout the album. Some songs feel like a combination of Shogun and Vengeance Falls, others feel like Ascendancy meets In Waves. Despite this, the album has its own identity in a way, and even tries new things. “The Revanchist” is the least Trivium-sounding song they’ve done, and they nail it. The production on the album is also their best since Ascendancy. The guitars are crisp and the low notes hit heavy, the bass is more audible than ever and sits nicely in the sound. The drumming is incredibly tight and clear. The vocals are all-encompassing yet packed, which overall results in a fantastic sound that’s both modern and also distinctly Trivium.
In the end, The Sin and the Sentence is easily the band’s best album in nearly a decade, and can easily be called one of their best. With a fresh approach that brings together everything that worked in previous releases and adding new flavors to it all, it’s their most varied release as well. This is the album everyone has been waiting for.
The Sin and the Sentence is available now. You can purchase and stream it here.