There are few bands in metalcore that are more polarizing than Trivium. You either love them or hate em (2006’s The Crusade probably had something to do with that…) for various reasons, and they’re latest release In Waves probably won’t change that for most people.
Choosing to step back from 2008’s almost progressive-sounding Shogun, In Waves re-visits Trivium‘s simpler times during the Ascendancy-era with shorter songs and an overall faster pace. You’d think this would be a good thing; however right off the bat the album has problems with consistency. The opening song (not counting the instrumental intro) “In Waves” is just, in my opinion, simply too long. If the song was three minutes long instead of five, it would have been a great, catchy opener that prepped you for things to come. Instead, your left wondering when it’ll end by the middle of the song. Not exactly a great way to start off an album. Things seem to be on the upswing though with the one-two jab of “Inception Of The End” and “Dusk Dismantled”, catchy, relatively heavy songs that remind you of why some people actually like Trivium so much. Things come crashing right back down though with “Watch The World Burn”, a boring radio-single that servers no purpose; especially because the song right after it “Black” is still single-worthy and better in nearly every way imaginable.
This disturbing trend continues for the rest of the album. Just when everything seems to be going smoothly something comes along that makes you roll your eyes, either another song or something like then middle bridge in “Caustic Are The Ties That Bind” . It’s honestly disappointing; especially coming after an album like Shogun where not only every song was good; you could tell the band took massive strides with it’s songwriting also. Say what you want about The Crusade, but even that album was well-written for the most part. So what happened on In Waves? We’ll probably never know; but it’s certainly a let-down for this self-admitted fan. If its one thing Trivium has proved time and time again, its that the heavier the song the better they sound. So why do they seem so afraid to just fully embrace this side of their sound? Basically, more songs that sound like “A Skyline’s Severance” or “Inception Of The End” and less songs like “In Waves” or “Watch The World Burn” would be nice.
New drummer Nick Augusto fills the kit nicely and his style is certainly a nice change of pace from previous drummer Travis Smith’s; it’s more technical and sharp in nature, which is great for songs like the aforementioned “A Skyline’s Severance”, but often feels out-of-place and clunky in slower songs like “In Waves”. Again, the problem for In Waves seems to be a case of identity crisis: who exactly do Trivium want to be? They’re skills set says that faster and more aggressive they play the better; but when 5 out of the 13 songs on the album are bad radio-rock singles it’s hard to argue that point for them. Keep in mind that there is nothing inherently wrong with a single; I personally think the song “Black” is one of the best on the album and everything about it is insanely catchy, but songs like that are just too few and far between on In Waves.
Part of me wonders if the three years in between albums had anything to do with the consistency problems on In Waves. For a full disclaimer: I am personally a Trivium fan and followed In Waves development pretty closely (or as close as I possibly could), and from the outside looking in I can’t say it was a rushed album. I even recall at one point vocalist Matt Heafy stating on twitter that they were going back into the studio even after all the recording and tracking was done to touch up certain parts of the album, so it certainly got ample attention during the creation phase. With bassist Paolo Gregoletto going on the record to say that they’ll be hitting the studio early next year to record the followup to In Waves, the short turn-around time could be beneficial to Trivium. Ultimately, In Waves should keep die-hard fans relatively happy, while offering little else to newcomers or detractors.