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  1. #1
    Senior Member All-Star CayugaPosse's Avatar
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    Trivium vs Avenged Sevenfold, 2013(album reviews)

    It's interesting to look back at what has now been over a decade in the industry for both of these bands.

    Both screamed(literally) onto the scenes with debut EPs and huge albums which both still rank as the best heavy metal work since the turn of the century(Trivium's "Ascendancy" and A7X's "Waking the Fallen"), both had people at one time calling them "the future of heavy metal" and both since then have released albums that have featured scorn and hatred heaped upon them for becoming "sellouts" or any number of other things.

    Let's start with Avenged Sevenfold. After "Ember to Inferno" and "Waking the Fallen", whether it was the vocal surgery lead singer M.Shadows had, or the switch of record labels that followed "Waking the Fallen", the band abandoned the vocal style that gave them a distinct feel(Shadows' high pitched screams mixed with clean singing vocals), which would have been bad enough. What's worse is at times, it just feels like they're trying to ape 80's metal bands style and just re-create it rather than innovate their own style.

    Never has this been more prevolent than on their new album, "Hail to the King". By now it's possible if you're interested in reading this you've already heard the controversy or criticisms around this disc, most notably Robb Flynn of Machine Head making a sarcastic comment commending them for "their cover album reaching #1", and making a list of sarcastic comments about the disc.

    If you haven't heard and are wondering, sadly, he's 100% correct as well. It's a shame too, I want to like A7X...but their career has flown so far down hill so quickly since "Waking the Fallen". I enjoyed "City of Evil"(more than most apparently), but everything that's followed has been clunky. "Nightmare" had flashes of brilliance, but also was largely carried by Mike Portnoy of Dream Theater assisting on drums in the wake of the passing of A7X's drummer The Rev. Which sadly transitions me to the other complaint I have about the disc...

    Let's ignore the copycat problems, nothing on the disc is objectionably all that bad, it's a decent listen if you're not at all interested in hearing a band do anything different or unique or creative. That said, the new drummer leaves such a pathetic impact on the disc it's alarming. There's never a single moment you'll notice him, or care what he's doing. Not a one.

    As for the complaints about copying, it's never more egregious than on "This Means War" which is one of the more blatant rip-offs I've heard. Which is sort of bizarre...I'm not ready to say they stole the song or anything because there's no way they recorded that and didn't think people were going to miss the fact that it's basically a carbon copy of Metallica's "Sad But True", especially given the fact that that song isn't exactly an indy track...everyone knows it. So I do buy their line that they were "paying tribute" with the song(and the rest of the album), the problem is there's a point where "paying tribute" crosses over into just being a lazy rehash...and this races right across that line.

    And that's kind of the problem with the entire disc. Robb Flynn may have been being sarcastic with his list of problems with this disc, but he's being sarcastic protected by truth, because he's right. You can point directly from almost every song on this CD to a song that's come before it, and draw a very, very straight line. There's absolutely nothing creative, original or interesting in the CD. As I said earlier, nothing's objectionably bad to listen to either...it's just a largely pointless CD that has absolutely no trace of individuality from Avenged Sevenfold in it...and looking back exactly 10 years ago to "Waking the Fallen" and the creativity in so much of the songs, the structures, the vocals, and the songwriting...it continues to be a huge let down. People may not like "City of Evil", but at least that was A7X on a CD, even if it wasn't the A7X we wanted. This is worse, it's completely lifeless. The band's still talented and only in their early 30s, so there's every chance they still have something special in them, it's just getting harder and harder to remember when they were a band to be excited about.

    As for the other band that shared that mantle, Trivium's even younger. When "Ember to Inferno" came out the band was still in high school(Matt Heafy was 17 years old), they were still teenagers(19) when they made what I consider one of my all time favourite heavy metal CDs, "Ascendancy" in 2005.

    Ironically they fell into a similar trap as A7X, they got very much caught up in apeing Metallica's sound on the follow up to "Ascendancy" to mixed results. The difference is, since then they've done decent work in once again becoming an interesting and exciting voice in heavy metal. Following "The Crusade" with "Shogun" which features some outstanding songs and a return to form vocally and musically(just listen to the opener of that album "Kiruste Gomen" which is an outstanding track). "In Waves" built on that same formula and continued to rehab their image into something worth listening to again, which brings us to their most recent work, "Vengeance Falls".

    The question entering this CD was how the hell partnering with Disturbed frontman David Draiman would work out for them considering a) he had never produced before and b) Trivium and Disturbed aren't even remotely the same musically.

    Gladly, it doesn't seem like he's done much except push Heafy vocally, which pleasingly works absolute wonders, as he turns in what is without a doubt his best vocal performance in the band's history. There's substantially less trace of the Hetfield style vocals throughout it, there's an extra emphasis on little harmony sections(like on the title track's chorus when he sings the words "Vengeance Falls", which sounds absolutely outstanding). It goes a very long way to continue to make me believe that of the 2 bands mentioned here that were heralded as the futures of heavy metal, one of them still has every chance to live up to that mantle. To those that it matters to, there is still some screaming but it is toned down a notch...but in every way this is drastically unlike "The Crusade" which did the same but ended up sounding like a Metallica knock off, this finds Heafy sounding outstanding, in complete control, and the band sounding tight as hell and laser focussed. It's a third consecutive excellent outing from them, which has gone a long way to make "The Crusade" a distant memory, and considering the band's younger than me for gods sakes(sigh), leaves me with high hopes that after another decade they could be one of the strongest voices in the world of heavy metal.

  2. #2
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    Well it took me this long to catch up. Keep the reviews coming man, they're all read and appreciated! Finished the A7x album a few nights back good lord do I regret even bothering. This shits getting old and A7x is now on my list of bands who's new releases I can entirely ignore due to the certainty that I just won't like it. Its one thing to not like original music, and another entirely to not like blatant rip offs of my other favorite bands. This one failed big time with me.

    Onto the good stuff...Love the new Trivium! Been through the whole album and I can easily call it one of my favorite metal releases since 2010. It helps that I was always a HUGE fan of Disturbed and seriously appreciate the slight influence Drailman has seemed to have on their direction. This album is not soft but not obnoxiously hard. Its tough, it gets you juiced up, headbanging, ready to rage, without having to sacrifice the emotion and harmony that tends to lose itself when focusing on the prior mentioned qualities.

    So the album falls right where I want it to on the brightness spectrum. Not too dark not too light. Harder than their last effort without feeling like a cheap compromise.

    Regarding the actual music, good lord are these guys on fire. The guitar work, at least specifically the solos, are more crisp and clean than I've ever heard from Corey. The technicality is off the charts but effectively laced into the music and theme of the song to where you don't feel like we're taking a break from the song to listen to a guitar solo (Like Dream Theater or Metallica solos often feel like). Not to slight Heafy at all either, the strongest improvement in any musical category is certainly the rhythm guitars. Much more clean and effective than you expect from the genre. Its almost like the best of Dream Theater's metal-era (Technical rhythm work featuring a lot of stop and go, chugging riffs, I hear a lot of Train of Thought in this CD, the opening of "The Broken World" Takes me right to one of my favorites of DT, "In the Name of God, and even the solos have a similar vibe) mixed with the best of Killswitch Engage, and The Human Abstract.

    I'm a huge fan. Trivium has and will continue to alienate large amounts of their loyal hounds with their dramatic changes in style and direction from album to album, which only makes me respect them more as long as the quality of the finished product remains so superb. This is easily their cleanest, most polished, crisp, best-produced album of theirs to date. There will no doubt be a crowd intent on hating this and insisting its not enough of a step away from their last release, that it still not hard enough, still not near enough to Ascendancy (And they even reference a desire to move back towards Shogun now which I remember everyone negatively comparing to Ascendancy when it came out, just to show how fickle fans can be). Personally, I can't call it an album as good as Ascendancy, but I can say I'm more in support of this decision to continually evolve and grow and create new sounds. Its a positive alternative to trying to remain stagnant and making the same safe music.

    Trivium seems full of creative ideas and that bodes extremely well for their longevity. You can compare their albums however you want and maybe the latest few haven't been necessarily as strong as the first couple, but they've consistently made at least good metal music for a long time now and don't seem to be dealing with any sort of writer's block. I'm extremely excited to hear their next CD, I'm excited to know what they'll sound like in 10 years, and in 20 years. I can't fathom what that sound will be, but I've heard to know that it will be good music, and I give that respect to very few bands making music today.

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