REVIEW: TRIVIUM – VENGEANCE FALLS (2013)
Today we welcome our newest contributor, Lucas Mengelkoch! Lucas is a recent music and media business graduate based out of Minneapolis. He has played a number of musical instruments over the years and is one day hoping to become a sound engineer for a recording studio. Welcome to Mezzic, Lucas!
There may have been some impossible expectations with Vengeance Falls, Floridian metal band Trivium‘s sixth studio album. When Trivium started to write a new record after their 2011 release In Waves, you kept hearing about how heavy the new stuff was, which was good news. Although there was some brutal songs on In Waves it mostly saw Trivium stray from their metal-core roots to something more straight forward and melodic -which is fine. That was the point of the album. In Waves felt like a natural progression of “okay, this album might not be as intricate as the ones before it, but the songwriting, instrumentation, and especially Matt Heafy’s vocals are improved upon.” I was excited to see how the band would expand on it with future releases. And now seemingly every other review has pushed Vengeance Falls up to high heavens with the praise it’s been given.
But this? This is not what I expected to hear, nor wanted it to sound like at all.
Vengeance Falls excels at being incredibly mediocre. It’s so weighted down in predictable song structures and adequate melodies that it sits maddeningly in the middle of the road, content to remain a bloated monument to inoffensive decency. Very few songs don’t follow the same verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge/solo-chorus formula, which isn’t always a bad thing if songs are differentiated enough in other ways, but they aren’t. “Brave This Storm” sounds like “Vengeance Falls” which sounds like “No Way To Heal,” etc.
The great guitar-work that Trivium is known for continues on Vengeance Falls as it’s filled with intricate riffs and the solos are as squeedly-meedley as they’ve ever been. Matt Heafy improves yet again at singing, but even there lies one of my biggest complaints; David Draiman, singer from Disturbed and producer of Vengeance Falls, influenced Heafy’s singing style quite obviously. Draiman has a very distinct style that makes Disturbed sound the way they do (staccato in verses, vibrato in choruses) and many of the vocal tracks I can easily imagine being sung by him. Put him on a track instead, tell me Disturbed went in a heavier direction and I wouldn’t question you at all. The screaming that was often prominent in previous records is disappointingly left out mostly as well. I can’t help but feel like certain songs would sound much better if some of the vocal tracks were screamed rather than sung, like the verses of “At The End Of This War.” Also, was it really necessary to double up the vocals on every track? It’s a bit excessive.
“To Believe,” “Incineration: The Broken Word” and “Wake (The End Is Nigh),” which sounds influenced by Machine Head, are easily highlights as they’re genuinely good songs and so are the two bonus tracks “No Hope For The Human Race” and “As I’m Exploding.” Even their cover of the Misfits song “Skulls…We Are 138” is pretty great, but then Trivium has always been one to release good covers.
After being a huge fan of Trivium’s albums over the years with Ascendancy, The Crusade, and Shogun all being defining records of my high school and college years, Vengeance Falls is completely disappointing. I was always taught that if you’re going to do something, either fail at it miserably or succeed valiantly. Mediocrity gets you nowhere, which is exactly what Vengeance Falls is. It’s just kind of…there.