The past four years have made being a Trivium fan a difficult task. After 2013’s ‘Vengeance Falls’ confirmed their status as Disturbed-endorsed radio metallers, while 2015’s ‘Silence in the Snow’ polarised longtime admirers even further as frontman Matt Heafy abandoned his signature screaming technique in favour of power metal falsettos. It’s only natural to hope eighth full-length ‘The Sin and the Sentence’ provides some return to form.
Packed with scathing screams, sophisticated thrash metal rhythm sections and a gutsy breakdown to end the song on, the album’s eponymous opener, ‘The Sin and the Sentence’, could be perceived as Trivium’s reclamation of metal’s throne. But it’s pinned down by a number of flaws that reveal their ugly heads throughout these eleven tracks.
While technically blessed with a clean anthemic tone that recalls the arena-filling expanse of Bruce Dickinson, Heafy’s vocal performance fits in awkwardly with the rest of the instrumentatio, and causes an inconsistent flow on tracks such as ‘The Heart From Your Hate’ and ‘Beyond Oblivion’. When he doesn’t sound confused, he sounds utterly passionless during ‘The Wretchedness Inside’, while the overindulgent lead guitar noodling on‘Beauty in the Sorrow’s just comes off as cheesy.
There are some moments of brilliance on ‘The Sin and the Sentence’ where the band does get their collective heads together and sound excited about the music they’re making. ‘Betrayer’’s hybrid of power and thrash metal delivers the most engaging chorus with it’s “I will never be a victim for you, I will never be a fool” refrains, while the seven-minute ‘Revanchist’ is a victorious work of prog metal that even uses a choir to full effect.
But these are occasional glimpses of grandeur on an album that falls flat on its backside far too often. ‘The Sin and the Sentence’ sees Trivium try to reinvent their sound and drift further away from what made them such an exciting band in the first place. There was a time this band were touted as future Download headliners, but this puts those thoughts firmly to rest.
‘The Sin and the Sentence’ by Trivium is out now on Roadrunner Records.
Words by Andy Davidson (@AndyrfDavidson)