1. The End Of Everything
3. Pull Harder On The Strings Of Your Martyr
4. Drowned and Torn Asunder*
6. A Gunshot To The Head Of Trepidation
7. Like Light To The Flies
8. Dying In Your Arms*
9. The Deceived
10. Suffocating Sight
If you cannot already tell, I am generally not a fan of metalcore, nor of its alarming growth in popularity. To me, it is one of the most cookie-cutter genres out right now: every song has to have a simple basic chord progression, a complex variation on the same riff overlapping the former, a slower, heavier breakdown riff and worst of all, screaming in place of proper vocals. Most metalcore bands usually do not go deeper than this method and there are no risks to be taken (not to mention the songs themselves are about as memorable as the recent “Prince of Persia” movie). There are very few acts that can ever really grab my attention in this category.
Time to meet the greatest exception!
To be completely honest, I am baffled at how much I love Trivium’s Ascendancy. It is like an enormous breath of fresh air when bands like this come along. Trivium gracefully merges the components of metalcore and the attitude and accessibility of golden-age thrash metal. The musical showmanship is quite impressive considering how young the band members were at the time of release. Nearly every track on this album is unforgettable for more than just the audaciously lengthy titles (“A Gunshot To The Head Of Trepidation?” Who comes up with that?). Needless to say, the end result is astonishingly gratifying.
Kicking off with the darkly entertaining acoustic/piano instrumental titled “The End Of Everything,” the album immediately raises the stakes and moves onto bigger and heavier tracks. “Departure” is a later song with a broad scope; it begins in an unconventional time signature (7/8 I think it is) for goodness sake. It begins and ends as a slower tempo, kind of easygoing metal track but halfway through tests out a lightning-fast, Anthrax-esque solo section for good measure. Then there is “Like Light To The Flies,” which contains quick, thrashy guitar riffs but is not afraid to incorporate a groove that would make Pantera crack a smile (Yes, Pantera as a singular entity would smile). ‘Tis a great song for headbanging.
“The Deceived” most certainly delivers some of the heavier and more aggressive guitar riffs on the album (as well as some of the most frantic footwork on drums), but where the song really caught me off-guard was with its ample amount of harmonization. Whether its between two guitarists Matt Heafy and Corey Beaulieu or if it is solely in the vocals, the harmonies fit right in and give colorful texture to the heaviness. “Dying In Your Arms” may also catch some by surprise. Basically, it has the most radio-friendly sound of any other song on the album. Not to say that does not work. Actually, its one of the better songs in my opinion. With almost no screaming to be found, this is one of the tracks that prove what a great singing voice Heafy has. Kind of like a cross between James Hetfield and Glenn Danzig to me. Clocking in at just under three minutes, “Dying In Your Arms” is simple but it undoubtedly packs a punch.
During the week I originally reviewed Ascendancy, one of the songs that grew on me over time was “Pull Harder On The Strings Of Your Martyr” (or as its said in the song, “PULL! HARDER! STRINGS! MARTYR!”). While it began as innocuous and frankly forgettable, I have grown to cherish the song. It is now actually one of my favorites. It strikes just the right note between unrelentingly heavy and uncommonly catchy. The same principles hold true for “Suffocating Sight,” which some might know as the first Brütal Søng of the Week I ever did. The verses are without a doubt brutal (in the traditional sense of the word), while the melodic chorus employs some nice vocals to balance the aggressiveness.
“Rain” in my opinion is one of the weaker songs despite elevated lyricism. It isn’t quite bad, but it is a conspicuous speedbump in an otherwise exceptional album. To me, what holds it back is that its riffs sound generic in comparison to some of the other bits of greatness on the album. Two of the most fascinating tracks to me are “Drowned and Torn Asunder” and the title track “Ascendancy.” “Ascendancy,” suggested by the name, holds superiority over the other tracks in that it is rather uplifting and optimistic. The song is a lot of fun to listen to and the chorus is stunning with its symphonic ambiance. Meanwhile, “Drowned” is a full-on metal track that is possibly my favorite song so far from the band. The whole thing is almost flawless from its epic opening chords to its unyielding verses. The song never slows down for a second and it remains eminently thrilling even after numerous listens.
Closing with the fiercely anti-discriminatory assault known as “Declaration,” Ascendancy left me thunderstruck. Most of the twelve songs got my attention. Some even radically disobeyed the laws of metalcore as far as I know. I am not familiar with any of Trivium’s other albums yet, but this one truly made me want to listen more attentively to the band. It probably will not strike a chord with others as much as it did me, but I exceedingly recommend Ascendancy. Even to those like me who find problems with metalcore. Who knows? You might be surprised.