REVIEW: TRIVIUM – “Ember To Inferno” [Reissue]
Thirteen years in the modern music industry is a long time, and longevity in this era should be celebrated with gusto. Years ago, there were almost guarantees that once you signed your record deal, you’d virtually be set for life all the while doing what you love most. Even more alternative acts could at least give up the day-job in lieu of something more lucrative, or at the very least supplement their income.
Nowadays, it’s far more difficult. The Internet has systematically become the saviour and doom of any aspiring musician: providing a platform to a global audience, whilst hindering their chances of making any money from their craft. It’s all so easy to get hold of music, yet nouveau methods of music distribution barely help the budding artists at all (unless a £5 return on somewhere in the region of four billion plays on a streaming site constitutes success). So it’s testament to Trivium that they’re here, riding high atop metal’s mountain and basking in seven albums-worth of material. Admirably confident (not arrogant, mind, just confident) in their own abilities, they’ve cemented themselves within the metal tapestry, and woven long into its fabric. And it all started thirteen years ago with the Lifeforce Records-released ‘Ember To Inferno’.
You’ve got a lifetime to write your debut album, but these lads didn’t waste any time (with Matt Heafy a mere 16 at the time – four years after he joined the band). Holed up in Florida’s Audiohammer Studios with Jason Suecof and enough hunger to devour a herd of wildebeest on the plains of the Serengeti, the trio (at the time) produced something of a statement of intent. With tracks like the ferocious “Pillars Of Serpents” and bruising “My Hatred” sat alongside more melodious efforts in the album’s title track, it demonstrated a concise splicing of influences. From the thrash aggression of heroes Metallica, to the melodic inflections of Swedish death metal greats In Flames, it was a more youthful take on the trend emerging with the likes of Killswitch Engage.
But there’s the key aspect: youthful. That hunger within the band and the desire to become the biggest and best around permeates throughout the record – it’s rather infectious. As is to be expected with a debut record (and more so being from a band so young), there is a rawness about ‘Ember To Inferno’. There are rough edges that have yet to be smoothed and which are particularly apparent on the “An Initio” re-release – the demos that led the band to their debut demonstrate a progression of sorts (not least in production, with ‘Ruber’ the most glaringly obvious example). The ideas are there, but could do with a little more distilling down. The youthful vigor is palpable, but it is definitely 2005’s sophomore opus ‘Ascendancy’ where Trivium properly announced themselves to the world with that refinement ‘Ember To Inferno’ lacks.
What is a particularly pleasing little endeavor is playing the ‘An Initio’ demos chronologically with ‘Ember To Inferno’ and then ‘Ascendancy’ just to see how far these Floridians came in the space of little over two years. The statement laid out by ‘Ember To Inferno’ almost served as a warning to the metal world that Trivium were coming and they would not accept second-best. It may not have had the impact that their 2005 release had (with many assuming that was their debut), but their out-of-print debut certainly sparked something and, in hindsight, seems appropriately-titled. ‘Ember To Inferno’, indeed.