Trivium - The Sin and the Sentence
Roadrunner Records
Melodic Metalcore, Heavy Metal
11 songs (57:46)
Release year: 2017
Trivium, Roadrunner Records
Reviewed by Goat
Archive review

Eight albums and nearly 20 years into their career, Florida's own Trivium have matured beyond the love/hate group that burst onto the metalcore scene with Ember to Inferno and was soon causing intense strife on metal forums with albums such as Ascendancy and The Crusade. Even their detractors (including, in aeons of yore, this reviewer) usually admit that the band have always had two clear strengths - guitar proficiency and a good ear for hooks. Granted, the two weren't always implemented well and, especially early on, the band's inability to find a sound of their own led to bandwagon-hopping. Yet slowly but surely Trivium have improved their songwriting skills to the point where earworms such as Like Light to the Flies are no longer exceptions to the rule, and in The Sin and the Sentence they've produced a very strong album. It's hard to pinpoint exactly at what point Trivium became a good band; 2008's Shogun has its fans, sure, both In Waves and Vengeance Falls were patchy but overall solid, and Silence in the Snow showed that a more poppy, entirely clean-sung approach suited the band.

The Sin and the Sentence is a culmination of a process, then, helped by a variety of factors that strengthen the bottom line. For starters, Matt Heafy has become a more than decent singer having left "boat! rudder!" memes and the James Hetfield impressions far behind, mixing both harsh yells and strong, vibrant clean singing to the point where he's a commanding frontman. In addition, although past drummers have been more than capable, new sticksman Alex Bent (ex-Brain Drill, live for Testament and Decrepit Birth among others) is truly superb, from the opening title track onwards providing a technical complexity that underpins the music well, allowing the catchy melodic riffs and vocal hooks extra impact and filling the plentiful instrumental segments with fills and trills that make for a more than respectable metallic outing. It's actually quite hard to pigeonhole this in terms of genre - there are elements of thrash, but it's not thrash metal, elements of metalcore and traditional metal but not altogether those either...

Overall the results are modern and unique enough to be entirely Trivium's, from Heafy's vocals to the excellent guitar playing from him and bandmate Corey Beaulieu. Cuts like Beyond Oblivion have both metalcore intensity and heaviness as well as a lightness that translates into catchiness without turning the music into simplistic pop, hooks being as likely to be gang-shouted or snarled as much as the clean-sung chorus, and the instrumental technicality (again, particularly from the drums) makes it both interesting and enjoyable to listen to. The prevalence of widdly guitar solos shows that the band's fanhood of classic metal is translating well into their own music, and the way that each element and transition works smoothly and cleanly shows they can put the pieces together strongly rather than just writing around a chorus. Comparing this to earlier albums shows The Sin and the Sentence as downright impressive, the improvement enormous!

And the way that, for instance, Other Worlds still manages to have something of an aggressive push despite the almost Killswitch Engage-esque melodic dominance makes for terrific results. The closest things present to ballads, the relatively straightforward The Heart From Your Hate and Endless Night, are dominated by vocals intermittently but soon return to the riffs in a way that may be entirely radio-friendly but is more than respectable in metal terms especially on Endless Night. Trivium push at the edges of their sound with a touch of blackened influence on Betrayer, complete with blastbeats from Alex Bent, mixing it with an almost recent-Soilwork-esque pop-progginess and a touch of classic Metallica leadwork - you may be able to see the stitchmarks, but that doesn't mean the results aren't great. And the band keep mixing things up with a variety of songs, such as the stompy downtuned The Wretchedness Inside, quity Slipknotty with a slightly out-of-place spoken section and yelled "fuck you!" (but the widdly soloing immediately returns as if to reassure) or the modern chug of Sever the Hand, complete with two breakdowns and thrash break that all work beautifully. There's a nicely epic touch to The Revanchist's build and chorus which helps the seven-minute length fly by, while Thrown Into the Fire is the closest yet to Soilwork territory with more of a modern melodeath feel suggesting Trivium could be expanding their sound anew. All in all, considering this is yet another near-hour-long album from the band it's remarkable how strong it is, with nothing that could be considered filler or that drags the listen down - Trivium's best album yet, but also a genuinely great modern metal record.

Killing Songs :
The Sin and the Sentence, Beyond Oblivion, Other Worlds, Sever the Hand, The Revanchist
Goat quoted 89 / 100
Other albums by Trivium that we have reviewed:
Trivium - What the Dead Men Say reviewed by Goat and quoted 82 / 100
Trivium - Shogun reviewed by Pete and quoted 78 / 100
Trivium - The Crusade reviewed by Jason and quoted 79 / 100
Trivium - Ascendancy reviewed by Jay and quoted 70 / 100
Trivium - Ember to Inferno reviewed by Jay and quoted 89 / 100
To see all 7 reviews click here
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