Sound — 10
Trivium is in the metalcore genre, and so you'd be expecting heavy guitar riffs, blastbeats, and harsh vocals. This album combines them all, with a smattering of clean vocals too (mainly used in choruses and breakdowns). Some people criticise Trivium for being too 'generic', but it's a matter of personal taste. I'd recommend you go listen to a few song samples before you make a solid decision about the CD (or band itself). The album is Trivium's second release, with Ember To Inferno being the first (and less-known) of the pair. Recently, Ascendancy has been re-released with a 13th track, Washing Away Me In The Tides. While the title appears to have a grammatical error, it's arguably one of the best tracks on the whole album. You'll find that the tone of Trivium is quite unique, it can be described as a combination of Shadows Fall and Ill Nino. Nonetheless, it's a great sound and I have no hesitation in recommending it to you.
Lyrics — 8
The lyrics are nothing special, but fit pretty well with the metalcore genre. Granted, it can be quite hard to figure out what Matt Heafy is saying sometimes, but the lyrics don't clash with the music. Heafy certainly has skill, the first time I tried to emulate the vocals of Rain, my throat was quite sore after a few lines in. The clean vocals used can't go unmentioned either. People who dislike Trivium usually say something along the lines of 'the clean vocals sound like boybands such as Busted or Westlife.' This is a pretty unfounded accusation, since there are quite a lot of singers who have similar voices. Personally, I find the clean vocals really good, because they convey quite a lot of emotion. When coupled with some of the lyrics, they really create a powerful image.
Overall Impression — 9
I wouldn't go as far as to say that this album is the best release ever, but I'd definetely say it's up there among the best. While fans of heavier metal may not find Trivium even bearable, any metalcore fan will really enjoy this album. 01. The End Of Everything - this instrumental is a great way to kick things off with the album. It's soft with a piano playing the main theme. The only downside is that the piano riff repeats, which can get quite tedious if you've listened to the song a fair few times before. Nonetheless, it's ace. 02. Rain - you can really tell you're listening to Trivium with the 3 heavy chords blasted at you as soon as you turn this track on. It's a really good, memorable track, with the highlight being the clean part in the breakdown. Look out for the phrase starting with "swallow every blasphemy". The solo following is excellent too. It's a pretty harmonic moment. 03. Pull Harder On The Strings (Of Your Martyr) - perhaps the most famous Trivium song, the drum intro is instantly recognisable. Granted, it takes a few playings to really get into the track, but the song itself is pretty good. This song has its clean moments, but they are sung over a pretty heavy riff so you can't really tell. My highlight for this track is probably the defining drum introduction, it's present in some verses as well. 04. Drowned And Torn Asunder - for some reason this song always seems really forgettable to me. The intro's not particularly interesting, but once it kicks in it's a decent song. When stood alongside the other songs on the album, it comes across as a fairly mediocre song. However, the chorus is perhaps one of my most favourite in the whole album. I can't make out what he says but the lyrics are pretty emotional. 05. Ascendancy - title track from the album, this is perhaps my least favourite song from the whole record. You're probably wondering why I'm mad enough to dislike the title track the most, but I just think the song's quite sloppy. The chorus is clean; however the only vocal I really remember and like is a single word from the second line - 'bruise'. 06. A Gunshot To The Head Of Trepidation - this track is my second favourite off the whole album, the first being the new 13th track, Washing Away Me In The Tides. Anyway, the track's really memorable, especially the introductory and verse double-bass drum beats. Interestingly, the track also has a pretty heavily-influenced dual role, with verse extensions, solos, and choruses being shared by the two guitairsts. Good points of this song include the extensions to the verse (the guitar harmonies), as well as the chorus. The guitar riff in the background has a pretty chug-chugging effect, and the vocals are shared by Heafy and Corey, the other guitarist. My highlight of the song, however, has to be the solo duet after the main solos are finished. After that, the song's got a pretty cool "Hey! Hey! Hey! Hey!" part which'll be a crowd-pleaser at gigs. 07. Like Light To The Flies - I seem to recall this being the first track written for Ascendancy. The track itself is pretty good, especially the chorus. The clean vocals come out really emotionally, and are perfectly harmonised with the backing track. The heavier parts in the verse are also pretty well put. My highlight is still the chorus, namely the lyrics. They're amazing. 08. Dying In Your Arms - this is a surpisingly short song. It starts with a different singer, I think it's the bassist since the guitarists have quite alike voices. Anyway, it's a pretty clean song, with only a few harsh vocals in it. I think a verse or two extra wouldn't have gone amiss, since the song's noticeable shorter than the other Trivium tracks, at only 2:52. 09. The Decieved - I don't know why, but I've never really listened to this song much. It's a pretty average song, you can tell Trivium were just trying to get filler stuff for the album. However, the guitar riff before the chorus is quite good (notice how most songs have good choruses), as well as the second part of the later choruses (where Heafy raises the pitch of his voice). 10. Suffocating Sight - the second shortest track on the album, it's not particularly one of my favourites. The chorus is good, yes, but the rest of the song seems so sloppy to me. I don't know why, but I've never really been able to get into this song. The breakdown near 2:17 (starting 'making its way inside...') as well as the distinct pinch harmonic is a redeeming factor, it really develops from here. If Trivium cut the rest of this song out and stuck the product onto the end of Dying In Your Arms, it'd be a nice long(er) song. 11. Departure - this track seems really long because of the slow tempo, but it's actually quite good. I like the clean vocals over the chugging riff, and I like the Slipknot-esque ohhhhhhh at 1:16 (and subsequent choruses). The 'distance yourself' part of later choruses is memorable, even though I can't make sense of the lyrics. 12. Declaration - filler. This track's noticeably longer than everything else; I think Trivium were just trying to beef up the total playing time of Ascendancy. While I'm a sucker for clean vocals, I don't like the 2 or 3 minute interlude halfway through the song. If Trivium were to take it out, they'd have a pretty good song. The interlude just drags the song's score down. 13. Washing Away Me In The Tides - this track's the bonus track on the re-release of Ascendancy. It's a really good song, with nice heavy verses and mellow choruses. Currently, it's my favourite song. I especially like the 'tiiiiides' in the chorus, when Heafy holds the note. The ending chorus also has an ongoing trill in the background, which I find pretty harmonising to the track. Interestingly, the solo also has a cowbell with the drums, perhaps to keep the guitarist in time due to the syncopation of the solo. This track's only barely longer than Suffocating Sight, but I really like it nonetheless. My highlight's definetely the chorus, you won't find clean vocals like that on any of the other Trivium tracks. Overall, the album's great. I'd certainly buy it again with no hesitation if I found it were lost, and I also have no hesitation in recommending it to you if you're interested. Get a few samples, you've got nothing to lose. Enjoy!