Top critical review
8 people found this helpful
on 14 October 2013
I've been listening to Trivium since Ascendancy in 2005. I've heard everything they've done, and one the thing I've always loved about their music is how emotive it is. Really good metal (for me at least) has always been able to capture that sense of anger or hatred. Trivium has frequently managed to do that with their powerful and technical guitar riffs, brutal vocals and immense drumming to tie it all together, whilst throwing in some slower melodic sections to really mix up tracks.
My absolute favourite album is Shogun, as I don't think there was a single bad track on it - it had phenomenal guitar work and amazing vocals, with tracks that were about a real variety of things, and that real sense of anger and brutality in the music, with those really great melodic slower sections with more relaxed vocals. Ascendancy comes in a close second for me (sometimes I wonder if I prefer it, but if pushed I would pick Shogun) as it delivers that same sense of anger I just mentioned. I did like In Waves a lot too - I listened to that album so much, and it only comes in third because of just how great Shogun and Ascendancy were. The Crusade is the weakest album in my opinion, though there are still memorable tracks there (at least Trivium acknowledged this wasn't the direction the fans wanted the band to go with their music, so delivered something exceptional with their next album).
My main point is that sense of emotion that some of Trivium's music manages to convey. Sadly, Vengeance Falls fails to deliver that feeling. Whilst I the main reason I love the band is not the screaming vocals, it definitely adds to the anger. Occasionally in the album, you hear a bit of the old Trivium seeping through. For example, the last two minutes of Villainy Thrives - the lyrics of the song are actually pretty good, even though the music for the first three minutes is nothing special - then you hit a breakdown with brutal vocals screaming the lyrics "I want to ruin the rapist, Punish the criminal, Violate the abuser, End the murder." (Reminds me a lot of Gunshot to the Head of Trepidation) On top of a simple but awesome sounding riff, this section of the song really makes you wish the rest of it was similar. Other tracks such as Through Blood and Dirt and Bone, and Incineration: The Broken World, feature some screaming but only ever in the backing vocals. Throughout the album this is the same sort of story - you may get a breakdown that sounds like good-old-fashioned-Trivium or some backing vocals that make you feel like punching someone in the face, but nothing more than that.
The guitar riffs are also thoroughly uninspired, and I think anyone (like me) who has enjoyed learning some of the band's songs over the years might be left feeling somewhat underwhelmed by this album. An untrained ear that was unfamiliar with the band could easily say "well, all the songs sound the same" - indeed, when I listened to the full album for the first time this morning, that thought did cross my mind. Some of the riffs are somewhat catchy (such as the main riff in Brave This Storm) but are very simple. I'm not saying that the guitar work needs to be incredibly technical to be good, but one of the reasons I did love Shogun and Ascendancy was the insane picking speeds and kickass riffing - all stuff that adds to that emotive music I (and other Trivium fans) love.
I'm disappointed to be reviewing a Trivium album with a negative review, but I think it has to be done. The reason I give it two stars and not one is that (as mentioned above) it doesn't feel like the days of Shogun and Ascendancy are completely gone - those few points in the tracks that break into proper, heavy, angry, emotion-rich Trivium leave me hopeful that their next album may deliver something more along those lines - and also leave me thinking that the band is clearly still very capable of performing that kind of music, even if this album doesn't provide it.