Trivium - Vengeance Falls (Roadrunner)

Modern metal doesn't get much better...

Trivium vocalist/guitarist Matthew Heafy lays it on the line from the very first line of Vengeance Falls’ opening track Brave This Storm; This band is really on the move, evolving, trying to expand it’s boundaries… and we’re all welcome to join this new crusade; yet, respectfully, you get the sense, you’re welcome to leave now, just turn the lights off as you leave if you have misgivings about the band’s ‘new’ direction.

It’s not so new, of course, Heafy and company have always made sure there’s plenty of melody lurking in each and every one of the five full length outings that have preceded Vengeance… ; it’s just that here the band are more brazen about tuning into their more melodic selves, more ready to glory in the natural earworms that have always poured out of them. Much of the credit for this must go to the band’s decision to work with nu-metal colossus David Draiman – of which more later – although he surely just gave the band the little bit of encouragement needed to fully pursue this line of songwriting enquiry.

It would be easy to dismiss this move towards the mainstream as a cynical cash grab – there are more than enough portions of this album that you can aim such an accusation at – with the band setting the controls right for the heart of American metal radio with this can’t fail blend of histrionic modern sounding yet oh so classic metal in essence guitar playing (think a pyrotechnic mix of Shadows Fall and latterday Machine Head)  and those confounded melodic bits of singing (for better or worse, Heafy really does sound like the Disturbed/Device frontman Draiman a lot here). But that’s to deny the band it’s right to move in whichever direction it chooses, and the bottom line is there is some very, very attractive material on offer here. 

The track To Believe, for instance,  seems to be the ultimate mix of old and new Trivium; Heafy adopts the staccato, sub-rap delivery of Draiman on the verses, which adds a weird, skewed sense of melody where before there would probably have been ragged barking, before moving seamlessly onto a chorus that could have appeared on ANY Trivium record yet released – like I said, there’s not so much naked change here as evolution and metamorphosis. The song ends with double time snare and dirty vocals that should have old schoolers thrashing in celebration, the sum of all this being nigh-on perfect modern heavy metal. Since Trivium are nothing if not a modern heavy metal band, I don’t see how this can be construed as failure.

Draiman has gone further than merely persuading Matthew Heafy to sing like him; in his interview with MaF editor Scott Adams a while back bassist Paulo Gregoletto remarked that the band had never worked so hard on it’s sound in preproduction for the album and that’s incredibly evident all over the record. Trivium on wax has never sounded so tight, so powerful, or so relaxed for that matter. Draiman has pulled top notch performances out of every one in the band – I might not have mentioned second guitarist Corey Beaulieu or drummer Nick Augusto in this review, but rest assured they put just as much into this as Gregoletto and Heafy.

An unqualified success in my eyes, Vengeance Falls is perhaps the first album that fully encapsulates the gargantuan talent that is resident within this band, and is therefore recommended for every fan of 21st century heavy metal. 

 

Vengeance Falls is out now.