TRIVIUM may have shown growth on the aggressive “Shogun” adding in touches of Thrash and Death Metal to their already melodic Metalcore sound, but “In Waves” has the band reverting back towards a sound they were originally known for – Metalcore by the numbers with tons of hooks. The band retains some of their more aggressive material, but “In Waves” feels more like a act desperate to grab mainstream audiences instead of just playing their best.
These Americans cut out many of their nuance influences from the record. It’s fairly straight up in the Metalcore genre, but instead of sounding like a fifth album of tightened sound, it sounds like it might have been more fitting slotted between “Ascendancy” and “The Crusade” as it retains the foundations elements from their Metalcore opus and the more hook heavy fare they chronicled on “The Crusade." An almost perfect mixture of the two.
That’s the reason why “In Waves” tries so damn hard. The band throws down the hookiest riffs, melodies, and vocal singing of their career – and it just sounds like a band trying too hard to get it done. Listen to the title track or “Caustic Are The Ties That Bind” and hear for yourself. It’s almost sickeningly layered to be that way.
The guitars are well layered with riffs and leads/solos and remain the highlight of TRIVIUM’s sound. All of the band members are very talented players and the guitar parts can tear through some impressive riffs and solos when they want to. Still, with “In Waves," it all feels a bit forced. Same goes with the bass and drum work. It works for what the album is, particularly the diversified drumming, but its nothing that would ever pull away from the hooks. Even Matt Heafy’s vocal work is mostly focused on the hook. The choruses are over layered to hell and many songs spiral into radio friendly purgatory. Even with his Metalcore barking to counteract the singing, many songs tend to push the aggression to the back burners.
Not all of the songs are stuck in hook-hell for the record. “Dusk Dismantled” is a solid track off the album that focuses down on the aggressive tendencies and leaves the sing-a-long moments and melodic guitars in the back. These songs come in spots (like the opening of “Drowning In Slow Motion”) or as occasional full songs, but they are too rare for this album and become lost in the sea of other tracks.
Essentially, “In Waves” is just a massive disappointment. The new writing focus of being as memorable as possible undermines the band’s heavier moments and the balance is thrown off for the entire record. For such a talented band of players (and occasionally writers), “In Waves” just showcases a TRIVIUM that tries to hard to be ‘the next thing’ instead of just writing naturally. This one is only for the die hards.
Songs to check out: “In Waves," “Dusk Dismantled," “Black."
(Online September 25, 2011)