Trivium have mapped out their career so far exactly as a fist-bitingly young band should by producing two quality albums and touring, touring and then touring some more. Inevitably, therefore, most of The Crusade was written on the road and the band have promised their burgeoning fanbase an evolution in sound. However, after listening to it one wonders if all Trivium’s supporting of the old masters of metal has left the young guns a bit star-struck.
Opener Ignition is the closest in style to the sound of Ascendancy and also showcases a more mature lyrical stance – still doom-mongering (in this case, related to politics) but with more direction.
Detonation then pummels in, and we begin to hear Matt Heafy’s change in style from the death growl he used so abundantly before to a very James Hetfield-esque impression. The old skool Metallica transformation is complete with Entrance Of The Conflagration, which is too close to being a tribute song.
Anthem (We Are The Fire) tries too hard to be retro, and this annoying trait continues into Unrepentant. Thankfully, And Sadness Will Sear repairs the damage as it chugs along and dutifully entices a nod and an air drum from the listener. Becoming The Dragon is even stronger, with Heafy making a welcome return to his old vocal style and then To The Rats bursts through with some manic shredding and confrontational lyrics (“Break every bone in your face if you mess with my life”).
By this point the album is really shaping up and the momentum is continued with This World Can’t Tear Us Apart, whose slower melodic pace and catchy chorus make it a contender to be this album’s Dying In Your Arms. In contrast, Tread The Floods will definitely get the heads shaking when Trivium support Iron Maiden at the end of December – in fact, many of the tracks on this album will help ingratiate Trivium with anyone in the Maiden crowd that might not be familiar with them.
Heafy rants against over-zealous gun use by police in Contempt Breeds Contamination, and is backed up musically by one of the strongest songs on the album, and although The Rising is a tad forgettable, the album ends with the title track – which again turns back the musical clock but this time manages to make it work successfully.
So has toning down the vocal style and creating a more retro sound helped Trivium to produce a follow-up to Ascendancy that will make even more people stick their heads up like a prairie dog and take notice?
Doubtful. This album may well be the promised “evolution” but whereas Ascendancy used a retro as a small nudge in the ear and surrounded it by a more individual sound that made the songs stand out, The Crusade reverses this policy by forcing the ’80s metal style to sit on top and so drown out some of the quality.
The Crusade is not a turkey by any means but it does take a few listens before the high quality of many of the songs is able to break through. That a band this young can twist and turn their style from album to album is actually quite promising, and combined with their talent for live performances, there’s no danger of them being consigned to the “where are they now?” file. However, The Crusade will not necessarily propel Trivium on to the pedestal of “rock gods” just yet.