To many, Trivium's 2005 release Ascendancy was a breakthrough, as the band toured relentlessly with many top acts to help promote their brand of metalcore and 80's styled thrash. Now they are back again with their Roadrunner Records follow-up The Crusade. Gone are Matt Heafy's metalcore/death shouts, replaced by a lower registered gruff style that is almost a dead ringer for James Hetfield from the And Justice For All era Metallica, and he mixes these with occasional clean "emo" styled passages, giving the songs a very melodic feel. Should all this worry their loyal fans who relished the aggressive nature of their previous two offerings? Well, it shouldn't, as The Crusade is no less heavy, no less the blistering thrash attack than than their past releases were. In many ways, the metalcore influence is pretty much non-existent here on The Crusade, replaced full time with raging 80's styled technical guitar oriented thrash along the lines of Metallica, Megadeth, Exodus, and Testament.
Both Matt Heafy and Corey Beaulieu have created some metallic bliss here, as there's no shortage of crushing, crunchy riffs and wild, technical guitar solos throughout this album. Check out the raging riff-o-rama and blinding leads on "Entrance of the Conflagration" and "Detonation", two monsters that will have you banging your head and singing along to the catchy vocals. "Anthem (We Are The Fire)" is just that, a great anthem, and a song that will appeal to fans of early Anthrax with its memorable and fist pumping chorus, and the dual harmony guitar solos literally shred with melodic might, reminding of early Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. Rust in Peace era Megadeth is hinted at on "Unrepentant", while "Becoming the Dragon" is just great technical thrash, complete with machine-gun drum work from Travis Smith. The mix of Metallica styled vocals with more accessible passages on "This World Can't Tear Us Apart" works really well, giving the song a rough but commercial edge, and when the guitar leads come exploding into the mix, look out! And in case you were afraid that there's no brutality here, then check out the Nevermore sounding "Contempt Breeds Contamination", one of the albums heavier pieces with thunderous rhythms and bone crunching guitar work. The CD's closer just happens to be a real corker as well-the title track is all instrumental, with both guitarist's and bassist Pauolo Gregoletto firing off solos and sick unison lines, giving the song a real dynamic and technical feel that should appeal to prog-metal fans and those into instrumental shred guitar work.
As with any new release from a band that alters their sound a bit, Trivium are bound to raise the hackles of some of their fans. While The Crusade is certainly a heavy album and brimming with guitar firepower, I'm sure some fans are going to cry "sell-out" due to Heafy's decision to change his vocal style to something a little less extreme. Fans of Metallica's glorious 80's output might really get into the style here, which is pretty close although much more technical. Any way you look at it, Trivium have done a really nice job here, and this album should continue to help them climb their way up the US heavy metal charts alongside bands like Lamb of God, Mastodon, Unearth, Shadows Fall, and Killswitch Engage.
3. Entrance of the Conflagration
4. Anthem (We Are The Fire)
6. And Sadness Will Sear
7. Becoming the Dragon
8. To The Rats
9. This World Can't Tear Us Apart
10. Tread the Floods
11. Contempt Breeds Contamination
12. The Rising
13. The Crusade