posted on 8/2011 By:
As much disdain as he might bring upon himself from the metal elite, and for all the hype which has always overshadowed his finished musical endeavors, Matt Heafy is not a stupid young man. If nothing else, his is a case of a person who got the rub from all the right industry folks way before he actually did anything to deserve such praise and publicity, and then began to believe in his own unearned greatness. As Dave Fonseca so brilliantly stated in his Shogun review, Heafy brazenly and foolishly put the cart before the horse: his obsession with attaining icon status interfered with his desire to actually create music cementing such stature, and it caught up with him. Can you name a song off The Crusade? What’s the best tune from Shogun? Mysteries to me as well, but to my surprise, it looks as though the band actually wised up a bit. In Waves is easily the most genuine article Trivium has produced since 2005’s Ascendancy by signifying an understanding of past faults, and showing a much-needed lack of affectation.
You’d have to be truly ignorant not to recognize the technical superiority Trivium exudes amongst its peers. These fuckers can run circles around their compatriots in God Forbid, Shadows Fall, and even Killswitch Engage, yet they’ve also never reached the songwriting competency of any of those bands either. In Waves removes almost all comparisons by abandoning much of the derivative nature of their last two albums. It’s clear that Heafy has an unavoidably natural vocal resemblance to James Hetfield, but this time around he’s chosen to noticeably dial it down quite a few notches, and likewise, much of the Metallica/Testament aping has vanished as well. Deeply melodic beyond anything else they’ve done thus far, and undoubtedly focused on crafting memorable, catchy songs, In Waves sounds true, and so acutely honest in avoiding the trend, that it makes me wonder what they would have become had they gone this route years ago. I’m suspecting they might wonder that, too.
They haven’t entirely let go of their past, as tunes such as “Forsake Not The Dream”, “Chaos Reigns” and “Inception Of The End” are very much grounded in the melodic thrash vein a-la Darkest Hour, and are very well-written for what they are. The change comes by the manner in which “Capsizing The Sea” flows seamlessly into the crunchy opening title track; it broadens with the curb-stomp thrust of “Dusk Dismantled” and the infectious grooves of “Watch The World Burn” and “Built To Fall” both push an almost rock vibe to the forefront; it stays with the riffy crunch of “Black” that is powered by one of Heafy’s best vocal arrangements. Speaking of which: Power ballad “Of All These Yesterdays” really exposes Matt as a legitimately capable clean singer, unassisted by Paolo Gregoletto and Nick Augusto’s impressive rhythm tandem, and shines as one of the most captivating tunes the band has ever penned. Corey Beaulieu also proves himself to be invaluable as Heafy’s tag-partner, showing off some tasteful leads and harmonies that so are refreshingly lacking in show-off arrogance and “look at me!” fretboard acrobatics, highlighted in many places on songs like “Watch The World Burn”, among others. The improvements are many, and these tracks stick tenaciously to your ribs in ways unheard-of since the excellent Ascendancy burst onto the scene.
The one thing that has frustrated me so much about Trivium is their seeming ignorance to their detractors, and to this day they’re still very confident. While they’ve taken great steps towards finally regaining some semblance of a personal identity that has been absent for many years, the growth shown on In Waves leaves them open to explore further avenues concerning some of the rock elements they’ve adopted here, and it seems like they finally learned a small lesson or three in humility. Hey, it’s a start, and they’ve always been a very good band that unfortunately fell in love with themselves too early in their career, but to be fair, if you were opening for the likes of Iron Maiden, Ozzy Osbourne and Metallica and co-headlined huge European festivals after only three albums, you might get a big fucking head over it, too.
This a really unexpected album, one which might rekindle some of the faith that was lost over the course of their last two releases, and while I might be the exception instead of the rule, In Waves makes me optimistic as to what’s in store for the future of this highly talented band. There's some really fantastic stuff going on here, and even though this release may not change many minds, at least it finally sounds like they’re doing their own fucking thing. It’s about damn time, and by the way, the monstrous unidentified leviathan portrayed on the cover puts them strongly in the running for Best Artwork Of The Year in my book. Just sayin'.
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