There's no such thing as a band born to greatness. To succeed in the world of music there's a whole energy-sapping storm of hard work to plough through. Florida's Trivium has surely earned the major contender status that has been afforded them by the international media. After spending the last few years up to their necks in blood, sweat and tears, the formidable foursome, whose 2005 sophomore release (and Roadrunner debut) Ascendancy made them a hit with discerning music fans everywhere, have paid their dues. Relentless touring around the world with over 350 shows in the past two years has sharpened the band's live prowess, making their new album, The Crusade, one of the most hotly anticipated hard rock albums of 2006. The level of charisma and energy that they've harnessed since hitting the global gig circuit has built Matthew K. Heafy, Corey Beaulieu, Paolo Gregoletto and Travis Smith a huge international fan base that is as devoted as it is ever growing.
Formed in Orlando, Florida at the dawn of the 21st century, Trivium was soon picked up by small independent label Lifeforce Records, which released their debut album Ember To Inferno in 2003. One track from this album appeared on a magazine compilation CD, which fell into the lap of Roadrunner Records Senior VP of AnR Monte Conner (Slipknot, Sepultura) who immediately heard the potential in the band. "Monte heard the song, gave our manager a call," recounts the now 20-year-old Heafy. "Of course, we all know who Monte Conner is so we started freaking out. It felt like fate because every time I turned on the radio or the TV, there was a Roadrunner band playing. It felt like some kind of omen." To drive it home for Monte, the band recorded a new demo and shot a video for the song Like Light to the Flies" and sent them to him. "He almost immediately responded, saying 'This is what we're looking for. Let's do this!' It was pretty mind-blowing."
In March 2005 the band released Ascendancy a bold and dynamic statement of intent that confirmed the potency of these young men's precocious talents and charisma. The album garnered a large number of frothing, ultra-positive reviews throughout the music press around the world, including the NY Times, Stuff Magazine, Revolver, Decibel and Metal Hammer, Rock Sound and Kerrang! in the UK, who declared Ascendancy 2005's album of the year. Trivium soon graced the covers of a lot of these magazines and picked up a fistful of coveted awards in the UK, including 'Best International Newcomer' at the 2005 Kerrang! Awards ceremony and several Metal Hammer Golden God statuettes. Suddenly it seemed that the sky was the limit! "The UK just rocked, right off the bat," smiles Heafy. "It all happened so quickly. The first show we had in Wolverhampton, we were the first of three bands. We took the stage to this huge Trivium chant, something we never experienced before. When we finished our set the whole room cleared out and people were running out to get our signatures. It was an amazing feeling. The next thing we know, we were given the offer to play at Download."
Globally renowned, the Download Festival takes place on the hallowed turf at Donington Park - one-time home of the legendary 'Monsters Of Rock' festival. Trivium were eager to make their mark in front of such a huge audience... "We were booked to play on the third stage, playing to maybe two or three thousand people," recalls Heafy. "Then they swapped us to the main stage. We were all really stoked, but I remember that at 10:59am there was no one there at all. 30 seconds after that, 40,000 people came swarming across the hill towards the stage. We were thinking 'What the fuck do we do now?' The next thing I know we've played the biggest show of our lives."
Trivium didn't slow down after that tremendous accomplishment. Instead they continued to traverse the globe seeking to spread their metallic gospel. Festivals and headlining shows around the world followed. They even returned to Download in June of 2006, this time as one of the festival's headliners. In the U.S. they were one of the headliners on the Sounds of the Underground Tour. Upon the release of The Crusade, the band will embark on their first U.S. headlining tour and later, be direct support to Iron Maiden on their world stadium tour. "The ride has been completely awesome," states Heafy. "
"Everything that's happened in America, everything that's happened in the UK, all that has allowed us to make an album like this," says Heafy. As we got to the end we realized we were making something really special. To me, The Crusade is still Trivium. As a band, you can either release the same album again, keeping the same number of people interested and not really branch out, or you can evolve. I feel that The Crusade is the next logical step in our evolution. We took one big step between the first two albums, but this time we've taken about ten huge leaps forward."
"Every album title has been a statement about the band and where we were at that time," furthers Heafy. "'Ember To Inferno' meant that we went from a spark to something special. Ascendancy was about the dream of domination and a gradual rise to success. The Crusade is literally what we've been doing for the last two years, crusading around the planet and getting our music out to everyone."
Recorded at Audiohammer Studio in Sanford, Florida, The Crusade is a faithful account of a great young band's swift and bewildering evolution, from up-and-comer to world-beating behemoth. With long-time engineer Jason Suecof at the controls sharing co-production credits with Trivium, the album is as distinctive and immense as any other metal record in recent memory. It is a dazzling explosion of neck-snapping riffs, grandiose scream-along choruses and outstanding musicianship from all four members of the band. Drummer Travis Smith underpins the sharp brutality of his band's songs with a startlingly dextrous percussive attack, all machine-gun kick drums and octopoid bursts of round-the-kit athleticism. Bassist Paolo Gregoletto reveals a hitherto unheard depth and maturity to his playing through the album as well his inspired note-heavy runs and earthshaking bottom end providing a devastating counterpoint to his band mates' deft compositions. Finally, both frontman Heafy and his six-string counterpart Corey Beaulieu have reached a new plateau of blurred-finger brilliance, with instantly memorable riffs and ear-searing fret-melting solos. Additionally, on the album, Heafy sounds more raw, aggressive and emotive than ever before.
From the opening future-thrash twin-blast of "Ignition" and "Detonation," with their anthemic refrains and blizzards of lacerating lead work, The Crusade is clearly a body of work that could raise the bar for rock bands around the world. There's the staggering, precocious "Anthem (We Are The Fire)," which blends the scathing thrash riffs of Megadeth with the infectious swagger of Motley Crue at their succinct best. The intricate, rumbling bludgeon of "Becoming The Dragon" has a pummelling, cyclical rhythmic drive and soaring, left-of-centre chorus. The doom-laden, emotion-stuffed "And Sadness Will Sear", reveals a new, darker, edgier side to Trivium's otherwise hook-laden chops. The deceptively accessible "The Rising" is a sumptuous hymn hewn from the juiciest licks that boasts a phenomenal crowd-rousing chorus... imploring the faithful to &lsquoRaise your voices with me...and sing this song of unity!' This collection of gems culminates in the album's monumental, shape-shifting title track a nine-minute instrumental monstrosity that twists, turns and torments the listener with rapid-fire tempo shifts, immaculate musicianship and a thrilling sense of adventure. It's an obscenely brave and ambitious end to a glorious collection of songs that seems destined to cement Trivium's reputation as the heaviest, sharpest, smartest and hardest working band of their generation.
"We're four very determined people," concludes Matthew. "When I was 12 years old and got into metal, I wanted to be in a huge band. That will never change. We don't take anything for granted and will work hard to make that dream come true. And we've only just started."