TRIVIUM blasts back onto the scene with a third effort that is one of the best metal releases of 2006 and quite possibly the heavy music album of the year. "The Crusade" sounds like the record that METALLICA could have made during the height of its early years, and while some may be uncomfortable with frontman Matt Heafy's occasionally too-dead-on James Hetfield impersonation, his sheer energy, bravado and fire, coupled with the band's relentless onslaught of blistering leads, amazingly technical yet memorable riffing, and dizzying rhythms captures not just the best of METALLICA, but MEGADETH, TESTAMENT and a number of other bands from the glory days of speed and thrash.
But TRIVIUM isn't just a throwback: the band has a modern edge throughout their material, adding unexpected flourishes like the softer section in the middle of "Ignition" or even that song's lyrics, which tackle subjects like homophobia and warmongering leaders in a way that Eighties bands might not have touched. Meanwhile, songs like "This World Can't Tear Us Apart" exhibit a commercial edge while retaining the intricate and heavy guitarwork that gives the band its identity.
The best thing about TRIVIUM is the way the band balances its influences and its homages. While old-school speed/thrash is the cornerstone here, there are touches of European prog metal and even the modern and mainstream touches we mentioned earlier. Yet nothing sounds like a blatant ripoff, or a dated tribute, and the band's appeal can easily reach fans for whom its sound might be an entirely new experience. Best of all is the fearlessness and confidence shown throughout the album; unlike so much American hard rock of the last few years, whether it be nu-metal or emo, there is no woe-is-me, Mommy-help-me whining in TRIVIUM's sound. These guys are loudly and proudly doing what they love. Even despite its unnecessarily obvious title, "Anthem (We Are The Fire)" gets the fists pumping.
Some of the best tracks include the opening one-two punch of "Ignition"
and "Detonation", the slow-burning build of "Unrepentant" and "The Rising" and the blazing yet still catchy "Tread The Floods". And for anyone complaining about the quality of modern metal guitarwork, just check out the closing title instrumental. It's a virtual symphony of guitar styles, all meshing together in the kind of epic finale that used to be the hallmark of so many metal albums. This is one "Crusade" that every metal fan will want to join.