Trivium is getting set to unveil their second album, 'Ascendancy' which is without a doubt, a metal masterpiece. From its massive, strong-arm production, to its ripping technical leads and vocal diversities, this is a record that will make a definite impact in the world of metal. The band has been touring extensively in the past few months in preparation for the album's release. Erin Fox catches up with vocalist / guitarist Matt Heafy to learn his thoughts on the new album and making the transition from an indie to a major imprint.
The Gauntlet: The band is getting ready to release its first effort for Roadrunner Records, 'Ascendancy' in March. How does this release differ from 'Ember To Inferno'?
Matthew K. Heafy: Yes March fifteenth is the release date. I think that the biggest thing between 'Ember To Inferno' and 'Ascendancy' is that it is still very much Trivium, and it's very much metal. But we have matured as years passed, in our view. It's a lot faster, the faster parts are faster and the heavier parts are heavier, the melodies are a lot more melodic and catchier, the vocals are a lot more refined. Aside from that "Ember To Inferno' was a lot more positive lyrically, more along a motivational theme lyrically, whereas 'Ascendancy' is much darker because of many different things that I was going through at the time, realizing the way a lot of things are in the world and things like that. Really, there's a lot more socially aware and negative lyrics on 'Ascendancy'.
TG: Tell us about the recording environment. Was this album recorded using Pro Tools or did you track on an SSL?
MH: Oh, it sounds incredible, We used Pro Tools for everything except the drums and the sounds turned out great. I think it definitely sounds better than a lot of things that are out there right now. Travis just reminded me that we recorded all of the drums at Morrisound Studios in Tampa, Florida which has been home to Cannibal Corpse and stuff like that and the drums just sound incredible
TG: Why did you choose to do the drums at Morrisound as opposed to doing them in Jason's studio?
MH: Jason decided it would be a good idea to record the drums at Morrissound. He was like "let's try this ", he had always wanted to do it. So Jason manned the board at Morrisound to record all of the drums there and it just turned out great.
TG: Which tracks do you feel turned out the best on the record?
MH: Obviously the single, 'Pull Harder On The Strings Of Your Martyr' which has just been released online. That song, I think, is quite different for Trivium. With a lot of our stuff, it's been faster and now, I think that it's a lot of our heavier side that's coming out. The stuff is more simplified, there's more simplified riffs and the chorus is catchy as hell and it's a strange chorus too because the guitar part is like this weird legato, like, techish guitar run at the same time it's hard to sing and play it, and it's also really hard to sing. It's got that catchy part and I hit the top of my vocal range and at the top note I hit this big, falsetto chest voice range which I originally didn't know how to do. I know a vocalist that's really good at that is Chris Cornell, so I did that in there and it just came out, there's a highlight in there. And, another track that's my personal favorite is 'Declaration' and the reason for that is, it's like, the longest song we've ever done. It goes from some of the fastest parts of Trivium, some of the fastest, most aggressive stuff ever that we have ever done, into a really melodic part with tons of vocal harmonies and a lot slower and it goes to solos it's really all over the place. Other highlights, the last one , I'd say, is 'Dying In Your Arms' which is song that's all clean vocals and a huge step for Trivium, I think that we're able to do go from songs like 'Declaration', which is like Slayer fast to 'Dying In Your Arms', which is more of a modern tempo, rock feeling sound
TG: The band cites a very diverse array of influences. What do you feel these influences bring to the group? There are a lot of bands out there today that have the heaviness that your band expresses, but are less attentive to the more commercial types of heavy metal.
MH: Yeah, well we're really just all over the place. Lately, all I've been listening to, well during the recording of the album, was like, Maiden and Rammstein and you can't really hear those styles in there. Like you said, some more commercial things. But, I found that when listening to things that are so drastically different from our style, I was able to write something that was completely, uniquely our own. That's what I found for myself, at least.
TG: So you feel that with this album, the band is cutting its own swath? Do you really make an effort to stand out as unique?
MH: Exactly. We never came in with a set mind as to what we want, like, "We want this song to go this way" or blah, blah, blah. We just play what we want, we play what comes out naturally. It's never anything forced or unnatural for us.
TG: Let's go back a little bit to your previous release, 'Ember To Inferno', how did the deal with Lifeforce come about for you and what are your thoughts and feelings in regard to that album?
MH: It came about that we recorded our demo, with Jason Suecof and I was talking to our manager, who is my dad. He's been our manager for the last five or six years. And I was talking to him and said, "We need to get a website together", so we contacted Frederick who does the In Flames website, and we got him to do our website. He was really into our stuff and we became really good friends and he said, "Let me get your demo to a friend of mine who owns a record label" and he gave it to Stefan, who owns Lifeforce Records and that's pretty much what happened. It did well for the label it was on, but being on an indie label, it was harder to get out into stores, its still not even in stores in our hometown, so that was kind of rough right there. But, it did the best it could, I'll say that.
TG: Did you tour pretty extensively for that release?
MH: We've been touring since like, last April. But it's really been touring for our upcoming Roadrunner release. And we're actually touring now, so it's really been a long set up period for this record.
TG: So the deal with Roadrunner happened very quickly after the Lifeforce album?
MH: Oh yeah, it came on real quick. We were signed to Lifeforce and then, Roadrunner within four, five months.
TG: It must be a big change for the group to be on Roadrunner. How do you feel being on a larger label?
MH: It's fucking amazing to be on Roadrunner, I can't believe it. We'll be hanging out at Christmas parties, getting drunk with A&R guys from Roadrunner and shit like that, I still can't believe that we're on this fucking label, because when I was a kid growing up, I listened to those all of those bands when I was younger. When I was in middle school, I would always pick up those albums from the bands that were on Roadrunner and it was like some fans will be like "You listen to Coal Chamber, what the fuck?" I liked the Coal Chamber record, Soulfly, Sepultura. Machine Head and Slipknot were some of my favorite bands of all time, Fear Factory. And now, we've played with many of those bands, we played with Fear Factory, Ill Nino, Machine Head and Chimera and it's just fucking insane. Everybody who's there is so cool. And it's strange the rumors you hear, I hear rumors of different things. I'll be reading things that some of the kids say about Roadrunner and they're like "Oh yeah, in their contract they won't let you play solos on albums or it's a breach of contract or something" and I was like "Holy shit, I can't believe that they actually believe this", because Roadrunner are like "We'll let you do whatever you want, that's why we signed you guys", they give us so much freedom. They let us make the album we wanted to make.