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Metal-core had never been as popular and mainstream as in post-millennium times; sales figures going through the roof, especially in the States where TRIVIUM pursuits amounted to big bucks for their bosses at Roadrunner Records. Spearheaded by the striking and screechy Matt Heafy (also on guitar), and formed in Orlando, Florida at the turn of the century, comparisons could be drawn with everyone from METALLICA and IRON MAIDEN, to SLIPKNOT and SYSTEM OF A DOWN.
Armed with body tattoos up to, and around their necks, TRIVIUM – meaning in medieval Latin, three foundations of learning: Grammar, logic and rhetoric – played METALLICA covers in their ambitions to become as big as their “Masters Of Puppets”, a song later covered (along with `No Leaf Clover’ and `For Whom The Bell Tolls’) in rehearsals. At this stage in their career, then singer Brad Lewter invited Lake Brantley High School kid Matt Healy along for the ride, unaware that the Japanese-born 14-year-old would eventually take his frontman position within the trio, a trio that also comprised drummer Travis Smith and bassist Brent Young.
With a quality self-titled demo disc doing the rounds at local gigs, somehow, German imprint Lifeforce, managed to earhole a copy, and, in turn, immediately signed up the band. Although basically brutal thrash-and-bash metal, TRIVIUM’s debut EMBER TO INFERNO (2003) {*5}, was a decent attempt to power their way into lucky/unlucky headbangers with one ear to the ground for guerrilla warfare metal; best bits stemming from `Pillars Of Serpents’, `To Burn The Eye’ and the title track.
Bolstering their line-up with the promo tour introduction of lead guitarist Corey Beaulieu, and substituting Brent with Paolo Gregoletto (prior to supporting MACHINE HEAD), Roadrunner Records picked up the gauntlet for a second, Jason Suecof co-produced album, ASCENDANCY (2005) {*7}. Receiving plaudits from as far afield as 411mania and Kerrang! (the latter awarded it No.1 Album of the Year!), tracks such as `Pull Harder On The Strings Of Your Martyr’, `A Gunshot To The Head Of Trepidation’ and the softer `Dying In Your Arms’, proved a platform for a group indeed on the rise.
2006’s THE CRUSADE {*7} again extolled the virtues of apocalyptic axeman riffs and a tendency to turn passe metal into something fans could shout and scream about; the surprise Brit hit of the JUDAS PRIEST-like `Anthem (We Are The Fire)’, helped give the US Top 30 set a UK Top 10 entry. And to think that Matt was just 20-years-old with a triumvirate of TRIVIUM sets behind him. Without too many hard-rock cliches – if one could make out the lateral lyrics – the temperature was at boiling point on `Detonation’, `Entrance Of The Configuration’ and `Becoming The Dragon’.
Hoping to steer clear of repetition, Heafy enlisted the help of Nick Raskulinecz to co-produce album number four: SHOGUN (2008) {*8}. Machine-gun-metal percussion and doom-driven guitars, with the added bonus of the exploratory Heafy on a range of Hetfield-like vox, the Top 30 set was certainly one of the best of its ilk, featuring as it did complex cathartic pieces in `Torn Between Scylla And Charybdis’, `Into The Mouth Of Hell We March’ and the 11-minute title track curtain closer.
Back to Top 20 status in 2011 with a fresh sticksman, Nick Augusto (in for the award-winning Travis Smith), IN WAVES {*7} was another to set alight the world of metal. Whipping up a thunderstorm of grunts and growls via the babyiest-faced Orc in town, Heafy and Co launched attack after attack on the likes of `Dusk Dismantled’, `Caustic Are The Ties That Bind’ and `Chaos Reigns’; the rest fell into the barb-wire ballad trap. One of the bonus tracks was a version of SEPULTURA’s `Slave New World’ (the B-side to `Shattering The Skies Above’), while they’d previously covered IRON MAIDEN’s `Iron Maiden’ and were in the throes of touching up the MISFITS’ `Skulls… We Are 138’ – an extra on their next venture.
Unleashed in October 2013, the David Draiman-produced sixth album, VENGEANCE FALLS {*7}, called upon all their resources to find originality. It was a tough middle-ground for a transatlantic Top 30 act who feared straying would probably cost them their long-serving fanbase. Technically brill and with an execution of musical precision, TRIVIUM soared high on everything from the battling `Brave This Storm’ and `No Way To Heal’, to the deep and mournful, `Wake (The End Is Nigh)’.
Calling upon producer Michael “Elvis” Baskette and mixing engineer Josh Wilbur to put the finishing touches to their 7th set, SILENCE IN THE SNOW (2015) {*6}, TRIVIUM delivered their usual riff-ready melodic metal. Having switched drummers when Augusto made way for Matt Madiro, the transatlantic Top 20 combo rolled out another meaty procession of head-shaking dirges; as ever provocative and chillingly dramatic on the likes of `Blind Leading The Blind’, `Until The World Goes Cold’ and the download-single title track.
Upgrading on-tour sticksman Alex Bent into a full-blown studio accomplice (Paul Wandtke had briefly filled in for Madiro), Heafy and TRIVIUM were again balancing their death-defying mosh-pit and the pendulum thrash-metal for the smouldering THE SIN AND THE SENTENCE (2017) {*8}; their best album in years and another transatlantic Top 30 showing. Underlining the efforts of seasoned sonic producer, Josh Wilbur, the band were more menacing and malevolent than before; their riffs-per-minute ratio, positively pulsating on `The Heart From Your Hate’, `Beyond Oblivion’, `The Wretchedness Inside’ and closing cut, `Thrown Into The Fire’.
Avoiding the mass music industry opt out concerning the crushing coronavirus; or basically more determined than most major acts to meet the world crisis head-on, TRIVIUM were stirring their medicinal compounds on the kiss-ass, Josh Wilbur-produced WHAT THE DEAD MEN SAY (2020) {*8}. A pre-pandemic pun on the current wave of this calm-before-the-storm (if one thinks the album’s concept was late 2019/early 2020), cacophonous assaults of the cranium such as `Catastrophist’, `Sickness Unto You’, `Amongst The Shadows & The Stones’, `Bending The Arc To Fear’ and `The Ones We Leave Behind’, seemed uncannily relevant and poignant in today’s harsh climate. TRIVIUM’s ninth album opened with the aptly-titled `IX’, an easy-on-the-ear piece of music that was the antithesis of Matt Heafy’s soaring vox and his band’s ominous overloads of thrusting and theatrical thrash.
© MC Strong/MCS Jan2014-Apr2020

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