The dust has settled on 'The Crusade' now, with over six months passed since its release. Having taken a quick look at the overall rating for this CD, however, I have to say I was quite stunned at it being almost 5 stars. So, here's my two cents on Trivium's 3rd album, take it or leave it.
What started off as a band with great technical chops and confidence quickly spiralled to stratospheric proportions just 2 years ago as 'Ascendancy' caught the metal world's attention back in 2005. Less than 18 months after its release and despite massive amounts of touring, Trivium found time to write and record 'The Crusade'. The hubbub was there, the adverts were in place at your local HMV, and it seemed like this was an album all metalheads needed to know about, and acquire, of course. And thanks to Roadrunner being so efficient on the marketing front, it sold like hotcakes. But that doesnt disguise the fact that this is, in fact, Trivium's least consistent album yet.
'The Crusade' does a few things right, for sure. The guitar work seems far more varied than previous works, and with Matt Heafy ditching the screaming vocals almost altogether his strong James Hetfieldian vocals come to the fore, giving the band a more traditional edge. In the HEAVY deparment, 'To The Rats' thrashes about with all the pace and poise of a classic Testament number; 'Entrance of the Conflagration' serves as their best homage to traditional metal and 'Unrepentant' shows some furious welding of a honed melodic edge with tight but restrained riffing.
But on the other side of this album, the band seemed to have branched off and tried to write songs with a bit more variety to them, which is certainly commendable considering 'Ascendancy' and its fast-speed-fits-all mentality. But unfortunately, most of the time it just doesnt pay off. 'The Rising' in particular is an aimless dull affair, with riffing so tedious its more creepy than sleazy. The album's token 'ballad', if you can call it that, entitled 'This World Can't Tear Us Apart' is as dour as it's title suggests and lyrically it plays like any tried and tested progressive-love song you've ever heard. These moments are all the more frustrating when pitted against the face-melting might of album opener 'Ignition', and the delicious melodic vocal hooks found on various tracks. But unfortunately for everyone of them there's an 'Anthem', with its shudderingly embarassing chanting sounding like it's come from the tail end of a Motley Crue outtake, and Heafy trying far too hard to sound like Hetfield.
With 'The Crusade', it seems Trivium have tried to do two things; refine their thunderously heavy moments and expand their song writing palette. On the former they have definitely succeeded, but on the latter I think they've failed this time around. They can certainly be commended for trying something different with around half of these songs, but that 'something different' will hopefully be majorly tweaked and improved upon come album number 4, or I prophesise some serious problems ahead for these young metal titans.