Sound — 10
When I first received Ascendancy, I was not sure what to expect. I had heard 'Pull Harder On The Strings Of Your Martyr' and I thought it was alright, nothing special. However, that was all about to change. I will analyse individual tracks: 01. The End Of Everything - more of an introduction than anything, The End of Everything sets the scene for the rest of the album. it's calming tone lulls the listener into a false sense of security until the next song begins. Very easy to listen to, short but not in a bad way. 02. Rain - the first 'real' track, Rain is a sudden juxtaposition compared to The End of Everything. From the first notes, reminiscent of Metallica's Battery, you can tell it's going to be a treat. The catchy octave sliding, especially when combined with Matt Heafy's singing, makes you want to listen to it over and over again, while the verse riffs will satisfy any metalhead's desires. One of the standout tracks on the album, one of the most thrashy. 03. Pull Harder On The Strings Of Your Martyr - until I listened to it on the CD, I never realised how amazing this track is. From the ear-crushing drum intro to the shredding guitar solo, the heavy pre-choruses, the surprisingly catchy chorus, the verse riff which is perfect for headbanging, this song has it all. The only criticism I might have is that sometimes the shouting can feel a bit too abundant, especially in the verses. Despite that, a fantastic track. 04. Drowned And Torn Asunder - this song is a strange one for me. The main downside is that one of the notes in the verse riff feels a bit too high. While that may seem incredibly pedantic, the note repeats many, many times and originally made me reduce it to 4 stars on iTunes. However, I realised that the many upsides, including the title, the sing-alongable chorus and the use of the word 'tenfold' at least balance it out. Not as good a song as the rest, and probably the weakest on the album. 05. Ascendancy - personally, this is only just better than Drowned and Torn Asunder. While it's still good, it just doesn't stand out enough, or have anything which separates it from the rest. Still a good song, but not one of my personal favourites. 06. A Gunshot To The Head Of Trepidation - ah, yes, probably the most well-known song off the album to people who don't own the CD. Renowned for it's brilliant guitar solo, this is one hell of a song. It starts slowly, gradually adds more parts, and then hits you with a duelling guitar solo which could give Iron Maiden a run for their money. When everything cuts out apart from the guitars, it's just magical. The song also includes a section before and after the solos, which could be compared to a sort of 80s rock riff, complete with 'hey's. Not a downside, but completely different in almost every way to the rest of the track. Brilliant song. 07. Like Light To Flies - not leaving any room to catch your breath, Like Light to Flies starts with a bang. The thrashy verse and pre-chorus will leave anyone who likes metal grinning, while the chorus is very well written and strangely easy to sing along to, even on first listen. 08. Dying In Your Arms - this seems to be a track where the opinions of fans divides: one set loves it to bits, the other set considers it 'filler'. Personally, I'm with the former. Different to everything else on the album, this song sounds more poppy and bright. The chorus is anthemic, very easy to listen to, and the transposition at the end is almost cheesy. The solo is brilliant, and if this were a pop song, it would be very out of place. 09. The Deceived - a remake of a song that was on their first album, this is a more metal track. While it is a very good song, it just doesn't stand out, and nothing in particular puts it above the rest. 10. Suffocating Sight - very catchy song, this one. The intro gives a hint as to the nature of the chorus, however, the verse is almost the polar opposite of that, heavy, shouty and fast. Very good song, quite a bit shorter than the majority of the album. 11. Departure - this is quite an interesting song. The verses are very melodic, starting with a simple acoustic pattern, gradually adding powerchords and vocals, then switching to a full-on distorted riff. The chorus is incredibly heavy, a great contrast from the verse. After the second chorus, an even heavier and faster section begins, with a pick-killing riff. This is a sort of Marmite track, I have to say I love it. 12. Declaration - the epic finale to a masterful album. The intro sounds similar to that of Departure, but it is easy to tell the difference. There are many parts to this song, but I have to say my favourite is the one straight after the solo, where he sings "I'll be right heeeeere / falling away / fighting on principle". All in all, this is a great finish to the CD. The sound on Ascendancy is generally fast, brutal and heavy. Comparisons have been made to Metallica, and I can see where they come from. Trivium could be considered thrash or metalcore.
Lyrics — 10
While there are many comparisons to Metallica, the singing style is very different (at least, until The Crusade). Matt Heafy alternates between a deep, harsh growl and a softer, melodic style of singing. While a lot of people cannot understand the lyrics, they are actually quite intricate. For example, A Gunshot to the Head of Trepidation talks about child abuse. However, there are some cliches, Dying In Your Arms talks about the end of a relationship.
Overall Impression — 10
This album is possibly the best metal album I've ever heard. Not a single track is bad, the production is brilliant. The only thing which I don't like about it is that it doesn't go on for long enough. The standout tracks in my opinion are 'Rain', 'Pull Harder on the Strings of your Martyr' and 'A Gunshot to the Head of Trepidation'. If it got lost or stolen, I would buy it again without a doubt. This album got me hooked as a Trivium fan, and I haven't looked back.