Sound — 8
This is now Trivium's seventh studio album, and they have definitely come along way from when I first heard them over 10 years ago. The album follows a common theme for Trivium in that it is different to all of their other albums. It takes a bit of getting used to but the exceptional production by Michael "Elvis" Baskette and debut of Matt Madrio on drums definitely helps.
It's clear that the tracks are designed to display how far Trivium's songcraft has come. For long time fans, this is definitely not the return the "Shogun" style epics that you've been waiting for with no tracks longer than 5 minutes 30 seconds. This is made up for by the creative range of compositional techniques used to sculpt the songs. The interweaving vocals during the verse of "The Ghost That's Haunting You" creates a whole new soundscape that is a band first and captivates the ear so much that it's a almost a shame to move on from it. The lyrics seem to have taken a new level in places as well, with no unclean vocals throughout the record, Matt proudly displays his vocal talent and incorporates some word painting during the chorus of "Breathe in the Flames" shows a vast improvement to previous efforts. As well the new devices, Trivium managed to incorporate some of their classic favourites: the pre-chorus of "Pull Me From the Void" features a Corey lead guitar line that compliments the vocal line perfectly.
Lyrics — 8
Unfortunately, with the emphasis on the overall song being well constructed, the songs are a lot shorter. While this has been a growing trend from their albums, even "The Crusade" had its instrumental title track to provide variation. This has also forced the band to utilise similar structures for each of their songs and this can make them predictable to listen to. The intro riffs in songs, while often a headbangers delight, are brief and short lived rather then varied, built up and explored; the solos are generally uninspiring and predictable with a couple of exemptions. These classic features are especially missed on tracks like "Dead and Gone," which while it's a solid song, it is unspectacular but carries several great ideas that could be explored further.
Overall Impression — 8
Overall, the tracks are exceptionally well written, they maintain interest throughout and on re-listens. The concentration on the total being greater than the sum of the parts has really paid off. Even the "filler" tracks are incredibly well constructed while the good songs are exceptional. The riffs are inventive and unique, the lyrics are creative and compliment the songs, and the contrasting use of texture is unexplored territory as far as metal goes. A very accomplished effort, though it may not be what Trivium fans were expecting.
Standout tracks: "Breathe in the Flames," "Blind Leading the Blind," "The Ghost That's Haunting You."