REVIEW: TRIVIUM – “The Sin And The Sentence”
It brings me great pleasure to say that Trivium, first of all, are soon to have eight records. As a hardcore fan of ten years, I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a band both remain exactly who they were from the start and change so dramatically over time. As a matter of fact, I can’t mention many bands whatsoever that have struck that perfect balance. And as we stand here at the crossroads of the eighth chapter, a certain anticipation and, honestly, a nervousness slips into the mind. I possess a great amount of respect for Trivium for being able to do exactly what they want to do as musicians while keeping their rabid fan militia in mind.
And it’s crystal fucking clear that on ‘The Sin And The Sentence‘ that exactly what they wanted to do is dominate and hard. It’s not that this task seems like it took all that much effort from my favourite Florida boys either; It’s more like it took some studying as to who EXACTLY Trivium are. And this record, better than anything they’ve released since ‘Ascendancy’, displays exactly who they are: An intelligent melodic, aggressive, even progressive, metal beast. They really are taking our fucking heads this time.
A layer of polish and tight focus grips this record by the throat, pun regarding the opening title track totally intended. I have never heard something more triumphant than the soaring opening riff, exactly what I would consider the closest to fanfare a musician can get without using a single trumpet. Already in track number one, the groundwork for the remainder is laid perfectly: The rowdiness of aggro Trivium combined with the pinpoint control and tidiness of their more recent records with a newfound love for creating atmosphere. The one thing any metal listener will notice immediately though, is that Trivium aren’t ones to bring even one generic moment or riff to mind. They’re not content with creating a song that goes nowhere and this song has quite a few movements. And while it’s not another ‘Shogun’, the observant fan will note that that band’s progressive songwriting elements are in full swing throughout this record nine times out of eleven.
Throughout ‘T.S.A.T.S’, the name of the game is hooks and lots of ’em. All the hooks ever — Vocal, guitar, drum, even bass. And these songs are guaranteed to get trapped in the noggin. Big parts abound and these Florida 4 are willing to cleverly place any element that will get a crowd singing louder, even gang shouts surprisingly. There isn’t a song on here that doesn’t stick like glue. The fact that the longer the song, the more memorable parts it contains is a factual aspect of this record is testament to how adept Trivium are at crafting their material. This album’s longest cut, “The Revanchist” is a groovy, ominous strafe with an unexpectedly anthemic chorus about nihilism. Yay! But wait kids, there’s more.
Despite all its melody, ‘The Sin And The Sentence’ is quite possibly Trivium‘s darkest material. From “Beyond Oblivion‘s doom-inviting sludgy hook, “Other World‘s cosmic Euro-New Wave of British Heavy Metal dreamscape and “The Wretchedness Inside‘s playful Slipknot-derived manic, many moments heard here are subtle experiments to add to Trivium’s already expansive playbook. In addition to frontman/rhythm guitarist Matt Heafy expressing anger, fear and contempt about the increasingly chaotic world around him and a focus on religious symbolism, there are even desperate, depressive moments heard in the forms of relatable rock anthem “The Heart From Your Hate” and Stone Sour-esque “Endless Night” which doubles as the first Trivium song to remind me of ‘The Crusade’ album since, well, ‘The Crusade’ album. And despite the record’s balance, it is absolutely chock full of surprises — Bewildering rhythm transitions and brutal moments galore. To answer much uncertainty, this record is a nearly perfect 50/50 on screaming and singing. Particularly of note, is one Matt Heafy who sounds positively rejuvenated here. He experiments with wider range and a diverse selection of cadences to really bring out his potential. And when he growls, it’s as if he never lost the ability to do so. The man attacks and serenades like only he can and he is a metal signature because of it. This record proves exactly why.
My favourite moments on the album are nothing short of epic. “Betrayer” reminded me of ‘Ascendancy”s thrashy brutality in the best way, but with singing sections that rival the gargantuan excellence of Silence In The Snow’s towering approach to songwriting. “Beauty In The Sorrow” faked me out with a Nirvana-inspired grungy clean intro before exploding into a tremolo-double bass section that would make the entire country of Sweden blush and it was wonderful. Thank you, Alex Bent. Speaking of, Trivium could not possibly have found a better fit for their band of merry extreme men than this gentlemen, henceforth known as Alex “First take like a motherfucker” Bent. Even when playing in a pocket format on this record, such as in “The Heart From Your Hate“, he shines through as a powerhouse and when given the chance to blast away, such as the intro to “Beyond Oblivion” (!!!), he truly feels like the ideal mixture of Travis Smith’s arena showmanship and Nick Augusto‘s powerful technicality. He is the chosen one, obviously.
The most important aspect of Trivium‘s sound has always been the dual guitar interplay and I don’t believe it has ever been better than it is today. It would seem that the more Matt Heafy and lead guitar/shred master Corey Beaulieu have played and written together, their chemistry has only improved. The influences on this record are staggering, but my jaw legitimately dropped at the The Punishment Due transition reference heard mid “Beyond Oblivion”and the blistering solo that followed. The solos heard on this record are all just entirely too brilliant to talk about individually, but brace yourself for “The Wretchedness Inside‘s. Wow. And I can’t neglect Paolo‘s fourth bass solo ever at the beginning of album finale, “Thrown Into The Fire“. Much labour went into making his bass sound the most reasonably audible it ever has without the clang heard on ‘Vengeance Falls’. I think the extraordinary melodic death metal riffs that come standard with a Trivium record though stand out as more substantially utilised than ever before here and especially in “Betrayer“. The uplifting melodies in the bridge were never expected. Keep your ears on that guitar tone too. Fuller than ever. Working with Josh Wilbur paid dividends.
I could gush about individual performances on this record for hours, but most importantly, Trivium are heard here as a cohesive unit who have learned and utilised a tool from each record they’ve ever done on this one record. It is staggering and incredible, truly a listen their fans will never tire of. Trivium have really gotten it right this time, delivering unique, consistently high-quality metal anthems with virtually no exceptions allowed in. No matter why you love this band, you will find something to fall for here. Clearly, Trivium have a long life left to live. ‘The Sin And The Sentence’ is prime fan-favorite Trivium and nothing less than a well-rounded, addictive and exceptionally creative metal record.