Trivium are, without doubt, one of the most vilified metal bands on the planet. Despite high profile support form bands such as Metallica and Slayer, Trivium receive huge amounts of derision from all quarters to the extent that to spend the next few paragraphs slagging them off would almost certainly gain a popular response. The problem with that is simple: Trivium are, whether you like them or not, a good band. They are good at what they do – high octane, technically proficient thrash with a strong melodic edge and while their style may not appeal to everyone they certainly do not deserve the critical mauling they are so often on the receiving end of.
Here with their fifth album, Trivium show off their strengths to a far greater extent than on blistering album ‘Shogun’ and a newfound maturity sees them developing their own sound rather than relying on the Metallica-isms of their earlier work. Opening with the distorted piano and military tattoo of ‘Capsizing the sea’ it is the metallic beast that is the title track that grabs you and makes you realise just how far the band have come. As the monstrous roar of “in waves” is unleashed over a furious riff, it’s clear that Trivium are hell bent on destroying the nay-sayers and while the melodic bent of yore is still very much in evidence the dynamic between the two vocal styles works better here than on previous records and the confidence and gusto with which the band attack the title track is quite inspiring. It’s a fantastic opening and while it will do nothing to assuage the hatred that Trivium’s ardent opponents feel for them, for those who are ,as yet, undecided or who for those who have followed the band loyally, it is an eye-opening, far sighted blast of technical, beautifully played metal awash with melody, well-crafted vocals and blistering solos. ‘Inception of the end’ sees the band opt for the type of brutally played cyclic riff that Megadeth built their career on, whilst the vocals switch between the raw-throated screams more reminiscent of their early material and the huge, multi-layered vocal harmonies that encourage so much ire. ‘Dusk dismantled’ is a massive metallic stomp with Nick Augusto demonstrating his skills on the drums while the central riff is a fiery beast that perfectly accompanies the more deathly vocals employed for the track. It’s one of Trivium’s heaviest songs in a while and it firmly establishes the fact that they are no light-weights.
After so heavy a track, ‘watch the world burn’ does little to slow things down, with the guitars once again played as if the band’s life depends on it and the percussion providing the driving force behind the more melodic, Metallica-esque vocal employed here. It’s one of the most commercial tracks here and it consequently sounds like single fodder, albeit a damn heavy single. ‘Black’ is a better track, sounding less self-conscious, and it has a gloriously syncopated riff while the vocals sound far more natural and memorable. It’s a strong, heavy track that will get heads nodding appreciatively before ‘a skyline’s severance’ once again strays into Megadeth territory with harmonised guitars l;eading the charge into complex thrash territory, although the growled vocals are far heavier than Dave’s more nasal method of singing. ‘Ensnare the sun’ (one of five bonus tracks only available on the special CD/DVD edition) is a well played, if largely inconsequential, segue track that heads into ‘built to fall’ – a track that once again is too close to the uncertain Trivium of yore who couldn’t decide whether they wanted to write brutal thrash or metallic hits and ended up on an uneasy compromise.
Happily ‘caustic are the ties that bind’ is an altogether more interesting proposition that perfectly balances melody and aggression and once again showcases the musical feats Trivium are capable of when focused appropriately. ‘Forsake not the dream’ is a more standard track that offers nothing particularly bad or particularly new and therefore drifts into ‘drowning in slow motion’ (another of the album’s bonus cuts) – a claustrophobic, heavy piece that is far better than it’s forebear and which is guaranteed to be a live favourite as the band whip up a dense storm to almost-mechanical percussion. Another bonus track, ‘a grey so dark’ is a melodic track that is mercifully brief and ultimately forgettable, not least because the vocals are a distillation of everything that Trivium’s detractors hate. ‘Chaos reigns’ has a great riff, inspired solos and vocals shot through with a rage that is undeniably genuine. ‘Of all these yesterdays’ is a power ballad that is actually hugely enjoyable and a far more fitting place for the band’s melodic aspirations with the vocals here being particularly strong. ‘Leaving this world behind’ is the official end of the album (with the final two tracks being yet more bonus material) and it is oddly atmospheric.
Providing value for money, Roadrunner and the band have packed this edition out with extra material. Five bonus tracks (three of which are neatly integrated into the album) extend the track listing to a massive 18 songs (two of which are absolute blinders, whilst a cover of Sepultura’s ‘Slave new world’ is fun) whilst a DVD offers up a forty minute documentary which is more-or-less what you’d expect and only worth the most cursory attention. What is of more interest, however, is the eight track live show which is perfectly captured and recorded and which shows the band getting sweaty in the studio. The music video for ‘In waves’ rounds things out nicely without being essential although it’s nice to see a label round out a bonus DVD with quite so much material for a change.
‘In waves’ is not a perfect release. There are at least three songs here that could (and probably should) have been shelved for the sake of providing a more consistent whole, although that’s what play lists are for and as stadium filling, mainstream metal goes, Trivium have crafted an album that is memorable, often exciting and Colin Richardson’s typically excellent production has given them a suitably massive sound to match their ambition. While ‘In waves’ will not change any minds, it is a brave, heavy album that will delight fans and capture the attention of those previously unconvinced by the band’s efforts and it will hopefully see the critical tide turn in the band’s favour as well. A good value, convincing package from a band that have deservedly continued to grow in stature – worth exploring.