Sound — 8
Compared to Trivium's first album, the band's overall sound has greatly improved. Ember To Inferno showcased their talents as a generic metal band, something that you could enjoy listening to, but the sound was not particularly memorable. Ascendancy, on the other hand, is many leaps forward. Their sound is clearly defined on this album. You could hear a snippet of any song and immediately know that it is these guys playing it. In brief, the songs stand out much more. Ascendancy has its own distinctive style; fast-paced metal with elements of hardcore, death metal, and thrash. Even though it HAS been done before, I have yet to hear anyone do it like Trivium. The addition of singing in many of the songs complements the heavy guitar and drum work. It is good to hear some singing for a change, and it definitely adds to their originality. If you have heard their previous album, you will definitely notice then that this CD is much better quality sound-wise. Production is crystal clear (you can hear the guitars very clearly even though the drums are pounding away furiously), and all the songs have been arranged together very flowingly. The bass could have been turned up a bit more though, but you can still hear it in most parts. One minor 'flaw', you could say, is that a few songs sound quite similar. But listen to them over a few times and you'll notice they each have their own style and theme. Overall, Ascendancy has a unique sound that will surely give Trivium much recognition and respect in the metal community.
Lyrics — 8
"It's our curse that makes this world so hopeless, allowing our king to spread his genocidal wings." Statement-type lyrics like this appear frequently on Ascendancy. If you listen carefully, many of the songs bear strong messages on life and the world: from self-growth to conformist society to war, these kinds of issues are presented. The lyrics are actually quite intelligent, compared to a lot of other bands who simply repeat a few simple sentences without any real meaning. "I am but a farce, a satire of stability. Insecurity is an uphill struggle, it's me versus the world." Lyrics like these are presented in many songs. They are semi-cryptic, though most of the time you can guess what they are about. The singer enforces these messages through screaming, growling, and singing. Much of the angry sentences are conveyed with screaming and yelling, whilst the sadder or softer parts are usually sang. The singer has a good screaming voice, kind of like a rough yell, though it does become a tad monotonous at times, and he could try a few different type of screaming to make it a bit more interesting. His singing voice is excellent, adding melody and harmony to many songs. Whatever anyone might say, just because he sings as well as screams does not make the band as a whole soft or not 'heavy'. Its actually quite refreshing to hear. All in all, both the different vocal types and the well-composed lyrics are great on this album, and they definitely contrast well with the instruments playing behind them.
Overall Impression — 9
As Trivium has time and time again been labelled metalcore (though I'd say and many would agree they are more just metal), they have often been compared to other metalcore bands like Killswitch Engage and Avenged Sevenfold. Trivium does not surpass either of these bands, but they definitely do not lag behind. Simply put, they bring something new to the scene, a sound that is cool and unique. Though all the tracks are good, the songs to look out for are: "Pull Harder On The Strings Of Your Martyr," "Rain," "Drowned And Torn Asunder" and "Like Light To The Flies." Though some of the them are similar, they all bring something different to the album. The thing I probably love most is the awesome guitar work on this CD. The guitarists definitely know how to play, and there are solos on almost every song. Both rhythm and lead parts are interesting, and they integrate the two flawlessly. Vocals come a close second. I really like the mixture of yelling and singing, heavy and soft. Ascendancy has very few actual flaws. Some songs sound a bit similar, and the screaming does get a bit repetitive at times, but in general these flaws do not occur hugely often. If you like metal, be that any type of metal, Trivium's Ascendancy is definitely a good album to hear. It is NOT hardcore at all, neither is it really 100% metalcore. It is mostly just metal, with its own originality and style. Good for all metalheads. Some have named Trivium the new Metallica, though I think this is a bit untrue at this stage. The guys definitely have much potential to become great like Metallica, but at the moment, not all the elements are there yet. Ascendancy definitely is a great CD, but their future albums will need much more if they wish to be as powerful as Metallica. Overall, Ascendancy is a great metal album, something really worth listening to. Some aspects need a bit of working on, but on the whole it is really good. If it got stolen I would buy it over and over again. Two thumbs up from me.