It’s hard to begrudge any Trivium fans who may have fallen out of favour with the band recently. Their last handful of releases have nailed on a reputation not unlike the one Weezer currently bear, where quality comes in fits and spurts, but it’s virtually impossible to predict when they’ll happen. Ascendency might stand as one of the shining lights of modern metal, but The Crusade left a fanbase disillusioned overall, and while In Waves hit that peak of excellence once again, following it up with the forgettable Vengeance Falls and the pedestrian forays into trad- and power-metal on Silence In The Snow became indicative of a band wanting to broaden their musical horizons, but really struggled to pull much worthwhile from it.
Thankfully, The Sin And The Sentence sees the Floridians pull out some serious reputation repair, though perhaps not to the extent they’ve been known to in the past. This isn’t so much a spike in quality but rather something more gradual, definitely still good but not to the extent of their very best. There’s a familiarity to tracks like Sever The Hand and Beauty In The Sorrow that harks back to a very solid place, and it says a lot because of that that’s there’s not really an outright bad song on The Sin And The Sentence, rather constant material that puts Trivium on stable footing once again. Like with the aforementioned examples though, there are points that can’t quite elevate to real greatness, and as an entire body of work, The Sin And The Sentence struggles to hit the heights of its best moments all the way through.
When it hits those moments though, this is the most focused and ready that Trivium have sounded in years. A significant part of that comes from Matt Heafy, who, on a track like Betrayer, has finally found a workable balance between clean and screamed vocals, channeling both classic metal and 2000’s metalcore to the best effect. And for an album like this which sees Trivium firing at wide-ranged societal issues on more than a couple of occasions, it’s imperative to get that balance as smooth as possible. Just look at the title track, with its searing, soaring guitar line meshed with waves of blastbeats for one of the finest mainstream metal songs released this year.
And if Trivium could just pull out the same tricks on this album’s back half (with the exception of The Revanchist which continually holds its own across its seven minute runtime), The Sin And The Silence would be all but guaranteed as one of the best of the year. Of course it’s mildly disappointing that that doesn’t exactly happen, but at least for The Sin And The Sentence‘s first half, Trivium barely put a foot wrong. Other Worlds is the mid-paced, arena-level stormer that so much of Silence In The Snow wanted to be but ultimately failed at, while The Heart From Your Hate and The Wretchedness Inside isolate both sides of this band’s repertoire and play them to the best of their abilities. Coupled with a searing technical proficiency that’s always impressive and production that’s clear without being intrusively so, and Trivium seem to have pulled out all the stops to get back on the horse in the most convincing way possible.
But again, it’s that back half that drags The Sin And The Sentence down ever so slightly and prevents it from being that nailed-on statement of intent that it should be. It’s by no means deal-breaking though; compared to Trivium’s last two efforts, The Sin And The Sentence is the galvanising force needed to get this band back on track and in the best possible headspace for them. What’s more, that’s not from them completely abandoning what didn’t work last time, but rather building and expanding on them to finally get them to work in the end. That they have actually worked is all the more reason to keep believing in what Trivium do.
For fans of: Killswitch Engage, Avenged Sevenfold, Darkest Hour
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘The Sin And The Sentence’ by Trivium is out now on Roadrunner Records.