Trivium - Vengeance Falls review


247 users:
Band: Trivium
Album: Vengeance Falls
Release date: October 2013

01. Brave This Storm
02. Vengeance Falls
03. Strife
04. No Way To Heal
05. To Believe
06. At The End Of This War
07. Through Blood And Dirt And Bone
08. Villainy Thrives
09. Incineration: The Broken World
10. Wake (The End Is Nigh)
11. No Hope For The Human Race [Deluxe Edition bonus]
12. As I Am Exploding [Deluxe Edition bonus]
13. Skulls...We Are 138 [Misfits cover] [Deluxe Edition bonus]
14. Losing My Religion [R.E.M. cover] [Japanese bonus]

Vengeance isn't the only thing that falls on this album.

Coming hot off the heels of a two-album run that helped pick the band up off the floor that The Crusade knocked them flat onto, Vengeance Falls sees Trivium slip just as they were regaining their balance and were ready to stand tall once again. The overall impression of this record is underachievement and not reaching expectation; while it does have moments where it drops the ball completely, the overall feel of this album is the band standing still and fumbling the ball rather than having a solid grasp of it and running headlong into the end zone.

Vengeance Falls does feel like a callback to the band's Ascendancy era, with the band combining the lessons and sounds they have adopted in the years since with the sonic template that era provided. On paper this sounds like a winning formula, given the musical growth the band had made in the intervening years with releases like Shogun showing the band could flex their muscles and In Waves showing they could still write short catchy songs should their muse take them in said direction.

Where this fails in practice is that it offers a solution to a problem that doesn't exist: did we need a more mature version of Ascendancy? As mentioned, the band had moved on and made a success of these new ventures that made the callback unnecessary; it raises the question that maybe the youthful energy of the Ascendancy was central to its charm. Songs like "To Believe" and "No Way To Heal" are examples of this backward looking album; they aren't bad per se, but they stand themselves up against songs far more impressive than themselves and can't help but feel the weaker in comparison.

Revisiting the formula of the past isn't inherently a bad thing, it is just that there are few songs that are strong enough to really stand up to comparison, with "Strife" and "At The End Of This War" probably being the lone tracks that don't pale when stood up next to the hits on their prior work. Both see a renewed focus on simpler but just as engaging riffs that drive the songs forward alongside more straightforward structures that pay off in spades, being the two songs I would take out of this album with no caveats.

Probably one of the most memorable aspects of the album isn't the music but the fact it had Disturbed frontman David Draiman producing the record; he was no rookie when it came to sitting behind the desk, but it did raise a few eyebrows upon it' initial announcement. When it comes to hearing his impact on the record, it ultimately is a more negative than positive experience; while everything is audible and sectioned off so there is no bleeding over of instruments and mudding the sound of the songs, this is a minimum you should expect from a record anyway.

There is an constant feeling of a ceiling on these songs; where the band once sounded expansive and let the music breathe, with the listener able to flow between the instruments to focus on whatever part of the song caught their ear, on tracks like "Brave This Storm" or "At The End Of This War" what you see is what you get: a two-dimensional track that is condensed into a box that places its chips on making the track a solid ball of metal that is designed to smash through anyone's scepticism. Unfortunately for all involved, they did not anticipate people merely moving sideways to avoid the swinging ball, rendering its impact null and void. "Wake (The End Is Nigh)" is an example of where Draiman hinders a track, with much of the track building from an eerie atmospheric sound into an explosive crescendo, both of which he fails to achieve. The atmospheric start sounds soulless while the payoff has no power behind it. It's like a firework without the bang; you're left shrugging your shoulders.

Whether it was coincidence or a conscious decision to create songs that mix the Trivium sound with Disturbed I don't know, but it hits you hard when you press play on tracks like "Villainy Thrives"; with its low-end chug and focus on pounding riffs, it matches the tropes of the latter with Heafy's vocals and Trivium's guitar focus. Does it work? Not really, it is the audible equivalent of oil and water; they sit side by side with each other but never coalesce into one natural-sounding track.

Overall the album will leave you wanting; from the lack of breathing space in the songs to weaker song writing in general, the album under-delivers just as Trivium had re-established expectations that this was a band who could deliver and more. Vengeance Falls isn't a record that will make your blood boil from its poor quality, it will just leave you shrugging your shoulders and asking if this is all they can offer you.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 8
Songwriting: 6
Originality: 6
Production: 6


Written on 17.11.2020 by Just because I don't care doesn't mean I'm not listening.

Hits total: 338 | This month: 338