Treading the popular line is tricky when it comes to Metal. The more discerning Metalhead has come to regard Trivium with a certain degree of suspicion, which seemingly stems from the band attempting to change their approach constantly in order to accommodate the popular sound or themes of the time. Trivium has always seemed a little too eager to please, and in a scene where authenticity is highly prized, their approach and motives are frequently viewed with suspicion. It’s a problem which the band themselves are only too well aware, going so far as to recently admit that they were adjusting their approach for the “industry” rather than just being themselves.
Regardless of how Trivium is viewed, there is no doubting the talent of the band when it comes to writing aggressive, yet strangely catchy Metal and In Waves is no exception.
After the obligatory instrumental opening, the band head straight into the tight, no holds barred grind of the title track In Waves. Pin-sharp syncopated riffing and roaring vocals from Matt Heafy kick the album into life, and for a fleeting moment they sound for all the world like Pantera in their pomp. However, Heafy soon adjusts his vocal to clean mode and for a moment it feels as if the band pulled back from an all out assault for fear of scaring anyone away. Yet as the song progresses with trade off vocals, propulsive drums courtesy of the phenomenally gifted new drummer Nick Augusto and some wonderfully crafted breakdowns Trivium finally sound like a band making music to please itself rather than anyone else.
Inception Of The End, rushes off in a blaze of lightning riffs, breakneck drumming and gravel throated vocals before injecting insane amounts of melody as soon as the chorus begins to loom. It’s easy to understand why those who value extremity over melody have a problem with Trivium, these choruses presumably feel like a cop out. Yet the coming together of Augusto’s blastbeats and the harmonious vocals of Heafy provides one of the album’s early highlights.
For Dusk Dismantled, the band goes for all out assault, and in doing so veers as close to early Death Metal as they’ve been in their career thus far. The gurgling roar recalls the hellish strains of Glen Benton from Deicide‘s first album whilst the manic riffing certainly tips more than a cursory nod to recent Mastodon. It’s all very oppressive, just as it should be.
Elsewhere there’s the anthemic pulse of Watch The World burn, which in spite of its appalling lyrics, has enough of a hook at the chorus to keep things on track. Black is the closest the band have been to a straight up rock song for some time, whilst Built To Fall is another song rescued by Trivium’s pop nous. If it weren’t for the blistering guitar duelling at the midpoint, it could easily be mistaken for an off-cut from Metallica‘s Black Album, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Foresake Not The Dream is awash in duelling guitars, strangely placed punk riffs, and some quite appalling call and response between those alter-ego vocals. It is the song that perhaps sums the Trivium experience up the most succinctly. At times there’s startling brilliance on show and within seconds something appallingly lame appears to restore some kind of unfortunate equilibrium.
In Waves is not Trivium’s finest moment by any stretch of the imagination but it does point towards the band having found direction and its own voice for the first time in quite a while.