Sound — 8
Formed in 2000, Trivium have done a lot towards building a reputation as a leading metal act internationally. "Vengeance Falls" is the sixth full-length studio release by the band, containing 10 tracks (or 13 tracks on the "special edition" version I am reviewing today) and clocks in at just under 50 minutes (or just over an hour if we're talking about the "special edition"). The first single from the album, "Strife," was released on August 1st and also became an instant download for those pre-ordering the album (though oddly enough, the track "Brave This Storm" was released in late July either to stream or for free download, but was not named as a single by the band). Something that I noticed immediately during my first listen through to the album, is there is much more melody and groove on "Vengeance Falls" than on earlier releases. Matt Heafy, vocalist, has attributed the increase in melody on this album to David Draiman's participation in the production of the album, as well as crediting Draiman with helping Heafy expand his vocal range for the album. The album opens up with "Brave This Storm," which is a very fast and aggressive track, and shows Trivium using rests in their music in a very creative way. The title track, "Vengeance Falls," is next up and the intro is very much like a lot of early thrash metal, but Trivium owns the track and adds their own identity pretty quickly. The chorus makes good use of melody and vocal harmony via the backing vocals. "Strife," which was the lead single from the album, has a very memorable riff as the song intro and also later in the track some of my favorite vocals from the album. "No Way to Heal" is an interesting track, and I was especially transfixed by the little vibrato thing that is done with one of the riffs for the song. I could be wrong, but I think some of the vocals on this track may be David Draiman. "To Believe" is next up, and this is a fairly solid track, and once again a very fast and aggressive track as well. "At the End of This War" sports an acoustic intro and some almost pretty vocals by Matt, and when the "heavy" comes in it hits pretty hard, though at times on this track I was thinking it would be nice if they would give the double bass pedal "tat-tat-tat-tat-tat-tat-tat-tat" a rest. "Through Blood and Dirt and Bone" has a really cool slow groove to it, though it isn't a slow song. "Villainy Thrives" opens up with a distorted melody that really caught my attention from the beginning, and from there the track really opens up to be another groove-heavy track. "Incineration: The Broken World" is next up and has a really cool riff repeating through a lot of the song, that kind of reminds me of the old Woody Woodpecker cartoon character's laugh - but the metal version of it. "Wake (The End Is Nigh)" has a really interesting clean melody in the intro, and lyrics start very soft, giving the whole intro the feeling of a twisted lullaby. When the distortion comes in, the song really expresses a sense of urgency. "No Hope for the Human Race" starts out with an epic little riff, and from there has some really thrash-like stuff going on with the rhythm. "As I Am Exploding" is next up, and this is pretty much a riff heavy, aggressive track from beginning to end. The lyrics go back and forth from clean to screamed in an interesting way. The vocal cadence was really a nice touch. The album closes out with "Skulls... We Are 138," which is a cover of a Misfits tune, and they do a really great job capturing that punk feel in the song while retaining their "signature" sound as Trivium. Overall, I think that was a fun choice for a cover song and closes the album out nicely.
Lyrics — 8
Matt Heafy does some of the best vocal work I've heard from him – maybe due to the vocal coaching he seems to have received from David Draiman during the recording of the album? The backing vocals also seem much stronger than their previous albums. As a sample of the lyrics, here are some from "Wake (The End Is Nigh)": "With my hands around your throat/ that's the way I like you most/ When you're choking on the feelings rushing out/ I just want to hate/ the same way that you hate/ So that I don't feel this love no more/ Choking on the feelings rushing out/ I'm choking feelings rushing out/ Time won't open up its wings/ Let me fall from grace/ And lend into the flames/ I don' want to feel this love go cold/ I don't know how you opened this light before."
Overall Impression — 8
When "In Waves" released, I wasn't really impressed with that album (I know, a very unpopular opinion), and I expected the same type of stuff from "Vengeance Falls," but I'm glad to say that I was impressed with this album. In general, the composition and lyrics seem to be steps ahead of where they were with the last album and it really has shown some serious growth with the band. Also, while Trivium is still about playing fast, this album also has some of the most memorable riffs from any of their previous releases. My favorite tracks from the album are "Strife," "At the End of This War" and "Through Blood and Dirt and Bone." Suddenly I find myself excited about what Trivium might do in the future.