Sound — 6
Trivium's second CD, Ascendancy, was nothing short of spectacular upon it's arrival in 2005. Most guitar magazines hailed it as a return to thrash metal format, which it most definitely was not. The CD was more like a metalcore-esque opus. As good as that album was wrong, every problem that it had (and there were a couple) has either been corrected or intensified with Trivium's third outing, appropriately titled The Crusade. One of the major problems I found with Ascendancy was it's god-awful screaming. Gratefully, the problem was corrected on The Crusade, as Matt Heafy started using a growl approach a la James Hetfield (may metal gods be praised). Unfortunately this technique has caused opinions on the album to be divided. The biggest problem on Ascendancy was the poor song writing. Well, unfortunately for fans of quality music, it is worse now. The song writing on The Crusade has become predictable: verse-chorus-verse-chorus-solo-chorus (with some minor variations every now and then). There are, of course, some standout songs where this formula works and Trivium seem to find their niche. For example, take a look at "Entrance of the Conflagration", a song that sounds just like something from the riffs of early Metallica albums (not that I'm complaining)! "Tread the Floods" is perhaps the best song on the album, with a catchy hook and killer guitar work peppered everywhere, not to mention Heafy on top of his vocal game. Of course, both those songs follow the above format of verse-chorus-verse-chorus-solo-chorus, and the format works. Where it fails is on stale pieces of work that sound forced and unaccomplished, like "Ignition", "Unrepentant", and "This World Can't Tear Us Apart" (with the latter being possibly the worst thrash-imitation I've ever heard in my life). In the end, almost every song (with the exclusion of "This World...") has parts to them that I like. But for most of the songs, there are also parts that I dislike, which creates an album for me that is barely above average. It's saving grace is that Heafy and Beaulieu have become masters of the guitar, and bassist Paolo Gregoletto excels at imitating Cliff Burton.
Lyrics — 7
The lyrics here aren't utter garbage, but they certainly aren't amazing. Slightly comparable to Metallica's "... And Justice For All", except more biased and juvenile. Heafy is a good lyricist, but he is by no means strong enough to tackle some of the issues he did. Heafy's songs about murderers and crimes (check out "Entrance of the Conflagration", "Unrepentant", and "And Sadness Will Sear") are fantastic. He tackles them with considerable knowledge and little bias. However, his songs "Ignition" and "Detonation" are just like every other anti-war metal band's lyrics. "To The Rats" is amateur and dare I say childish, and "This World Can't Tear Us Apart" is a naive look at love that's very revealing of the fact that Heafy is just shy of twenty-two years old. "Anthem (We Are the Fire)" is hair metal in disguise, and the lyrics reflect that. That being said, his singing has been largely improved since Ascendancy (although I heard a rumor that he only stopped screaming because screaming busted a vein in his neck during a show - not that I can verify that). He may sound like a Hetfield clone, but he's good at it and frankly better than Hetfield's vocals have ever been (sorry, but Hetfield can't sing more than three notes). The lyrics and singing are definitely the stronger points of this album.
Overall Impression — 6
Trivium is now slightly comparable to Metallica, but I wouldn't say they were cloning them either. If you were to buy this CD, I don't know if I could recommend buying the whole thing. I recommend you buy/download "Entrance Of The Conflagration", "And Sadness Will Sear", "Becoming The Dragon", "Tread The Floods", and the title track. "The Rising" is an excellent song (in my opinion), but I recommend that you listen to the 30-second previews on the web before you decide on that one, since I'm one of the few people I know who enjoys that song. All in all, after a CD like Ascendancy, this one is disappointing. It allows lots of room for progression, though, and I hope that Heafy and his boys can pull themselves together and write something truly great for their next work.