Sound — 7
The album kicks off with Kirisute Gomen, with an acoustic intro reminiscent of 'The End of Everything.' Though, after no more than 10 seconds, the band comes in with a fairly solid harmony lead, timed well with Travis Smith poking away at the toms. Following this, you are introduced to a for sure missed sound of the scream returning to action as Heafy pulls the transition into the inevitable thrash. And so as my last sentence implied, it is another thrash album, but unlike The Crusade which features more chord heavy riffs, there are excessive amounts of single note, trem. picked riffs, which no doubt add to the intensity, but do get repetitive and eventually take away from the music. The band sounds fuller, the music tries (perhaps too hard-- the comment I made about the trem. picked riffs) to sound brutal, and the leads and solos are crisp, which you would no doubt expect out of a Roadrunner Records album. Anthems are of course written for radio play, imagine that... but they focus more on chord structures and single note riffs that don't require picking as fast as possible. Another thing I've noticed is that almost every chorus is accompanied by a guitar lead, which is pretty sweet, in my opinion. So, my overall impression of the sound is it is good initially; in fact it hits you like a wall of bricks... unfortunately, even brick walls can crumble which is essentially what too many listens of this album will do for you. The lead work is often either easy and unimaginative, or an utter mind$*! # to the temporal lobes, especially when you get a hold of the solo work. New tricks, new licks, tons of shred, tons of shred that involves two guitar harmonies, or three, maybe even four layers. While it is probably one of their best efforts, Trivium still falls into the same sort of pit a lot of thrashers fall into... not much to offer as far as variety. Headbanging and anthems are great, but Trivium are certainly not exploring outside their comfort zone. I expect a lot more 'Metallica sound alike' tabloids again, though I think it stems mainly from the lack of dynamic and range in Matt's singing voice (giving it that same sort of half scream, half singing sound characteristic of James H. though they don't really sound anything alike.
Lyrics — 10
The song titles alone are enough to clue you into the lyrical content on this album... Matt has once again provided Webster some much needed dictionary sales with the release of Shogun, as confused teenagers across the country race to find out what 'scylla' means, as an example. Though, much like The Crusade, the lyrics are often just your average everyday lingo when it comes to the anthem-like "Down From The Sky." As for Heafy's voice, you should be glad to hear that he has brought back the scream and while it sounds exactly as you remember it, he may be using some programming to reach near (but not quite) death metal's bowel quaking growls. I'll give this an 10 because the words even I don't know are back, the singing is A LOT more bearable than on The Crusade, and Heafy screams again. I can't imagine a better combination than this, except if Matt suddenly added noticeable range to his pipes.
Overall Impression — 8
Overall, I'd have to say the whole album is worth a try. There's something here for everyone to be found, but it's probably going to find it's way out of your car's CD player within a month, or two if you get really caught up on it. That said, just look for the singles, they are generally a good place to start, because... well they are the most popular. Such songs are: "Down From The Sky", "Throes of Perdition", "Into The Mouth of Hell We March", and "Kirisute Gomen" so far. I personally love the faster sound, the screams, the more bearable singing voice, the growth in musicianship as far as solos go, and the initial feeling I get when thrown into the songs opener. Some things I think need improvement would be expanding the creative process to explore new genres, new styles of playing, heck... maybe even a new instrument. Trivium just gets boring after a few spins, in fact, by mid-album I was hardly paying attention, kind of just bobbing along to the occasional chorus that came up. I think the album will sell, people will go see them live, and Trivium will live on to make another album. I just hope for the day they get bored with their own music and look elsewhere... but I suppose it's hard to get bored with something that makes you rich and famous. C'est la vie, I suppose.