It would be fundamentally wrong to deny Trivium their place in modern metal. After all, in helping trigger the metalcore deluge they upped the ante on speed and complexity throwing down the gauntlet for the metal premier-league who proceeded them. Of course, for most people, Trivium’s story starts with Ascendency – their effective breakthrough – wherein Matthew Heafy rocked up with a bandanna and acne and it seemed like the dude was barely old enough to grow pubes. People laughed… and pointed. Fact is, a lot of that laughter promptly dried up when he (some say arrogantly) blew them limb from limb with his guitar chops. He was phenomenal not just for his age but for any age, a technician who advocated six hours a night training and painstaking study of the guitar greats.
Which brings us onto Ember to Inferno – Ab Initio, Trivium’s lesser-known (until now) out of print debut album which receives a re-release this December….packed together with the band’s three formative demos – Ruber ‘Red’, Caeruleous ‘Blue’ and Flavus ‘Yellow’.
Ember to Inferno is reckoned by some to be superior to Ascendency and this remastering has done nothing to dull its flame. “Pillars of Serpents” – still a live favourite – really kicks you in the dirt-box and is one of the strongest songs presented here. Elsewhere, “Fugue (A Revelation)” and “Requiem” provide a devastating one-two combo, the latter showcasing showcasing the tremolo picked flourishes mid-riff that would crank Heafy up alongside the technical big-hitters. The Metallica and Maiden influences are worn on their sleeve throughout, presented via machine gun riffs and duelling melodies respectively but despite all that you can hear the ideas and adventurous song structures that would secure Trivium’s own… ascendency (boom!).
Beyond the main meat of Ember to Inferno the ‘Red’ demo sounds charmingly crude and fizzy as “Pain’ kicks off with what could easily be the best epic Metallica never recorded! Actually, I’m lying… Kirk Hammett couldn’t pull lead lines like that if his life depended on it!
The ‘Blue’ demo sounds different again. Tighter and more advanced for sure – with more dissonance and staccato modern metal chops bleeding through – including early versions of “Requiem” and “Fugue”. It’s here that Heafy starts moving away from his Hetfield-isms to the guttural roar we best know him for.
Lastly, ‘Yellow’ jumps forward in time with demos of three well known tracks that would appear on Ascendency. If you’re expecting to see the warts n’ all genesis of them – don’t. Other than the overall compression, some slightly too fizzy guitars and the lead parts they pretty much already are the beasts they would become.
As a package, Ember To Inferno – Ab Initio is absolutely fascinating – it effectively allows us to chart each step taken by a great band growing from starry-eyed children to the point at which they could stand shoulder to shoulder with their heroes. And there you have it folks; follow your dreams and anything is possible. That’s like your own heavy metal Christmas fairytale, right there. 8/10