March 13, 2015 Trivium still climbing 10 years after Ascendancy
For a band as diverse and prolific as Trivium, making it fifteen years in the music industry is a matter of wit, skill, and dedication. With their unique blend of Heavy Metal, Metalcore, and Thrash elements, Trivium has survived the perilous musical landscape by staying true to their roots while managing to incorporate newer techniques and approaches. Having gotten their start at such a young age, the men of Trivium, led by the charismatic and captivating Matt Heafy, are no strangers to beating the pavement to cause a revolution.
Trivium began when ex-vocalist Brad Lewter heard Heafy singing in his high school talent show and invited him to join his new band “Trivium.” Joined by then drummer Travis Smith, the guys quickly began playing shows in local bars and clubs. However, this lineup would be short lived as Lewter left shortly after the band became active on the scene and Heafy stepped up to become Trivium’s new frontman. After recording an impressive demo, the guys garnered the attention of Lifeforce Records who quickly signed the young band and led them to the recording and release of their debut album, Ember to Inferno (2003). After the release of Ember to Inferno, guitarist Corey Beaulieu joined the band and in early 2004 original bassist Brent Young was replaced with Paolo Gregoletto before the band’s tour with Machine Head.
Two-thousand and four also saw the advent of a new page in the history of Trivium as the band prepped for their major label debut on Roadrunner Records, having perked the ears of Roadrunner executives with Ember to Inferno. So, they began writing and created Ascendancy, their sophomore release, but major label debut. Hitting the Top Heatseekers chart at #4 and receiving wide praise from Decibel and Allmusic, Ascendancy was released on March 15, 2005, and the metal world was revolutionized by its arrival. Kerrang named Ascendancy the album of the year in 2005, and Trivium received their first gold record in the UK for having sold more than 100,000 copies of the album. Several of the band’s most notorious singles and music videos came off Ascendancy, including “Pull Harder on the Strings of Your Martyr” which remains a Trivium setlist staple.
Opening track “End Of Everything” is a surprisingly light instrumental track that carries a somber and haunting tone as it strolls you unassumingly into the onslaught of “Rain.” Rife with Heafy’s throaty screams and Smith’s unyielding drum blasts, “Rain” leaps right in the face of the listener and immediately grabs them by the throat. As explained by Heafy to Loudwire, “Pull Harder On The Strings Of Your Martyr” is a relentless cascade into the mind of tyrant and the manipulative mental warfare they wage on those under their power to remain powerful and beloved. This powerhouse track was a major success for Trivium, being ranked among Loudwire’s “Top 21st Century Metal Songs.” Trivium was just starting to develop the sound that would become their trademark, and their combination of Melodic and Thrash Metal is at its peak in songs like “Drowned And Torn Asunder” and title track “Ascendancy.” Both songs have an intriguing balance between the light and the heavy, with moments of almost ethereal sentiment on “Ascendancy.”
The Thrash element kicks back up to the forefront with “A Gunshot To The Head Of Trepidation;” a Heavy Metal anthem against domestic abuse, as Heafy’s vocals scorch the track with vehemence and intent. The personification of fear and “taking it out” or “killing the fear” is a very real and visceral sentiment in the song. “Like Light To The Flies” was the first single and music video to come off Ascendancy. The song touches on a very core component of humanity’s need for the tragic. Trivium touches on how people love a tragedy and even the worst of humanity can bring about onlookers. “Dying In Your Arms” was the fourth single off the album and picks up the pace and tempo for a moment. The guys explore more traditional Metal techniques and sounds on this song, with less screaming and fewer heavy breakdowns than its predecessors. “Dying” feels true to its form as a Heavy Metal love song lament with rhythmic snares and dancing strings that make you want to head-bang and dance at the same time.
Rounding out the album are “The Deceived,” “Suffocating Sight,” “Departure,” and “Declaration.” These songs all bring back around the balance between the gruff vibrato of Heafy’s intense screams, the solid and symphonic string-work of Heafy and Gregoletto, Beaulieu’s burrowing bass line and Smith’s excellent timing and boundless kit talents. “Departure” especially takes the listener through deceptive highs and lows with its solemn tone spiked with quicker riffs and more Thrash-infused elements. Like any good ending, Ascendancy offers one last listen to the diverse capabilities of its creators, winding all the way up at the end of “Departure,” to then end on the infectious intensity of “Declaration.”
Listening to this album, one would never guess that Heafy was barely old enough to smoke when it was recorded. Coming straight out of high school into the world of Heavy Metal, the men of Trivium have truly come of age in an industry that usually eats kids for breakfast and spits them out by lunch, but despite the obstacles and changes they have faced, Trivium endures. Ascendancy gave the world its first real look at these Florida Metal mavens and provided the scene with songs that are timeless and memorable. Revisit Ascendancy, and like visiting with an old friend, remember the old days and the unfettered honesty and intention of those early years.