Talent and charisma are key ingredients for any professional musician, but without dedication and perseverance, many bands quickly fade to black. Then there are those like Orlando, Florida band Trivium, who are so determined, their behavior borders on insanity.
The day before Hurricane Charlie decimated Florida, Trivium were playing the House of Blues in Atlanta. While they knew they were up against their own Perfect Storm, they decided not cancel the next night's show in their hometown. "We drove a van with a trailer right through the eye of the hurricane," 18 year old singer and guitarist Matt Heafy says. "[Drummer] Travis [Smith] drove the whole way and he was like Tom Cruise in 'Mission: Impossible' or something. He just kept going and we made it for the show." Showing his dedication Heafy says, "we all live for this band. We wake up, practice a little bit on our own and then go to band practice and play for hours and hours. That's all we do, and all we want to do for the rest of our lives."
The same type of dedication and youthful exuberance goes into the band's music. Ascendancy, the group's second album, their first on Roadrunner Records, is filled with carefully crafted songs that surge with energy, passion and originality. Like their solid 2003 debut Ember To Inferno, Ascendancy is rooted in '80s and '90s thrash, recalling the glory days of Metallica, Slayer, Pantera and Testament. But, the new disc doesn't stop there, incorporating aspects of melodic death metal and even prog-rock. Twin guitar harmonies and point/counterpoint dynamics abound, twisting around vocals that alternate from melodic and pained to caustic and full of rage. "We had so much more to work with this time," says Heafy of the Jason Suecof-produced disc. "I had great guitar sounds, Travis is playing like a machine and the vocals are so much more multi-dimensional."
While the first album, lyrically, addressed romantic disillusionment and child abuse, this time the songs confront spousal abuse, suicide, depression, tyranny and freedom of speech. However, even at his most poignant, Heafy prefers expressing gut emotion to preaching. "I've found that when you have a negative aspect in your life, you can find so much negativity in other people's lives around you, and in the world. For me, it's good to write about the negativity to get some of it out of my system."
Trivium formed in 2000 after the band's original singer saw Heafy perform the Offspring's "Self Esteem" with a drummer at his high school talent show. The band members chose the name Trivium, which is Latin for the intersection between the three schools of learning: grammar, rhetoric and logic, because they liked the way it implied an open-mindedness to different styles, and summed up their musical aesthetic. After a couple of gigs at parties, the original singer quit the band and Heafy took the wheel. For the next two years, the band honed its sound, and in 2002 Heafy won the Best Metal Guitarist Award at the Orlando Metal Awards. Trivium headed into the studio in the beginning of 2003 to record their first high-quality demo disc. From this, German label Lifeforce signed Trivium and sent the band into the studio to record Ember To Inferno.
After going through various lineups, the band finally found guitarist Corey Beaulieu, who compliments Heafy's precision playing with solid riffs that help anchor the songs. Landing a bassist was even more difficult. Numerous players came and went before Paolo Gregoletto, who has jammed with Iron Maiden drummer Nicko McBrain, was brought in just in time for the tour with Machine Head. Feeling so strongly about the group, their music and their dedication to their craft, Paolo left another group to be a part of Trivium.
By July 2004, Trivium had 80 percent of the material for Ascendancy written and fine-tuned. Then in September, the band headed into Audiohammer and Morrisound Studios with Suecof, where they recorded the songs. As much as Trivium enjoyed their studio experience, they're happiest on the road. In the past year they've embarked on tours with Machine Head and Iced Earth as well as played dates with Killswitch Engage, Fear Factory and others, and won over new fans with every show. "What's cool about a tour is every night's a party," Heafy says. "It's not always because everyone's drinking, but people are getting along well and hanging out. The energy from the crowds is amazing."
With their second album finished and on the shelf, Trivium look forward to spending most of the year on the road - which doesn't mean they're not constantly working on new material. While they're currently working their way up the thrash metal totem pole, they're not planning to settle for reaching any level but the summit of the mountain.