Posted on October 30th, 2013 (7:00 am) by N. Neal Paradise

Seriously, someone needs to give Trivium a hug. It wouldn’t make their music better, but it might at least alleviate the flailing about they do from start to finish on Vengeance Falls, their sixth album and fifth for Roadrunner Records. No surprise there—for the clustered mass of low-quality metal bands obsessed with either Satan or their own misery (sometimes it’s both), Roadrunner is where you want to be. Dream Theater went to Roadrunner and suddenly started talking about vampires and cursed mummies—one of the best metal bands of the last twenty years reverted to seventh graders all because of a label change..

Vengeance Falls even marks a downturn in Trivium’s own discography. 2008’s Shogun had a serious Pantera influence and intense metalcore sound, as well as an ancient Japanese aesthetic that was at least interesting. But 2011’s In Waves slid more towards traditional heavy metal, though it still had the battering guitar-drum matching and the voluminous screaming that marks metalcore. And on Vengeance Falls, they complete their metamorphosis into an entirely standard and zero-surprises metal band. They may as well all be wearing blue coveralls.

In a way, their move to a more traditional metal vein is a good one, or at least a more honest one. Matt Heafy’s voice has always been on the pretty side, and it’s nice to see them using that a little rather than apologizing for it. Trivium have more tracks on Vengeance Falls that use the more delicate aspects of Heafy’s vocals than ever before.

“Brave This Storm” and “Vengeance Falls” demonstrate that even though Trivium have had more than ten years of practice, they still haven’t mastered the arts of melody, time signature, or even key. They sure try, though, and they get points for that. They try out complicated passages of shifting modes and keys, but all their hard work amounts to a C- at best. Their lyrics, also, particularly on “Villainy Thrives,” are filled with $5 words like “afflict,” “retribution” and well, “villainy.” They even use the lyric “I just want to exact reprisal.” Isn’t that just adorable? And first single “Strife” features lyrics that you can tell have gallons of effort put into them, but come out like an engineering student’s attempt at poetry.

Yet oddly enough, they command respect with their wielding of harmony—when it’s not ruined by all the screaming. A good metalcore band will punctuate their brutality with moments of tenderness, and Trivium are much smarter about it than most. Rather than a token soft or sensitive song on the album, they have little touches here and there, mostly coming in the form of harmonies. And the guitar heroics of Corey Bealieu deserve mention; though his approach seems to be “faster is better” (an artless but ubiquitous thought among metal guitarists), he shreds with considerable skill and dizzying proficiency.

But this ain’t triple-A here, people—this is the big leagues. Trivium have no excuse for putting out an album as bad as Vengeance Falls, even though it represents their best effort. While I do believe that they swung with all their might, they still struck out. Trivium need to admit that they’re just not very good at this.

Track List:
1. Brave This Storm
2. Vengeance Falls
3. Strife
4. No Way to Heal
5. To Believe
6. At the End of This War
7. Through Blood and Dirt and Bone
8. Villainy Thrives
9. Incineration: The Broken World
10. Wake (The End is Nigh)

Vengeance Falls
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

45 / 100
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