Sound — 9
Whether you like them or not, it's been rather hard to miss Trivium lately. Although it's still good solid metalcore, the thrashy influences to which the band lay claim really show through on this album and the pace rarely drops. The guitar work is very impressive, with some catchy rhythms and impressive solos, there isn't a single song without at least one. The influence of bands such as Iron Maiden shows through particularly clearly in some of the harmony parts as well as in other parts of the songs ("You will slaughter/All your daughters", anyone) and some power metal influences also shine through on songs such as "The Rising" and to a lesser extent "Anthem (We Are The Fire)". The songs are mostly quite similar, the above mentioned "Anthem" and "The Rising" being the most catchy. Also standing out are "And Sadness Will Sear", a slower song about the murder of Matthew Shepard, and the closing title track "The Crusade", an eight minute instrumental showcase. Overall, the album is both catchy and technically complex, and shows that Trivium have advanced musically since Ascendancy, a notable difference being that Matt sings a lot more (but more about that below, of course). The songs do feel like they lack some originality and it's a bit like playing Spot The Influence at times, but overall this is a very good album and I for one look forward to hearing it live.
Lyrics — 2
First, let me say the lyrics on this album are absolutely appalling. The criticism of politics and religion which permeates the songs (try opener "Ignition" and "Unrepentant" to see what I mean) seems thin and forced, and the scansion is completely terrible, meaning that Matt has to sing some bits so fast to make them fit they come out seeming garbled and hard to understand. In terms of content, "Becoming The Dragon" stands out here as being somewhat less forced, being written about a book one of the band members likes. And the bit many of you will have been waiting for, Matt's "new" voice. Apart from a few "Dying In Your Arms" style choruses, it sounds like Hetfield. Even the band admit it. It will be a turn off for some, but I don't see it's a problem, that's who he's influenced by, that's what he sounds like. You'll have to decide for yourself. This section still gets two out of ten because the lyrics are so bad.
Overall Impression — 9
I like it. It's a step forward to Trivium developing their own style, although at times it seems as though they're trying too hard to be all their favourite thrash metal heroes at once, and although the lyrics are awful in my opinion, the music makes up for it and I would buy it again if I lost it, basically, it's good, but I can't see it making many converts. A lot of people will have made their minds up already and Trivium do little to prove them wrong.