Trivium's Pursuit

Orlando-based outfit Trivium isn't afraid to embrace the metal.

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Hey, know what's not cool?


Metal is for 40-year-old longhairs with primered Camaros, and women who were pretty back when they were doing "favors" for roadies in exchange for a shot at Nikki Sixx, and dudes from Eastern Europe who buy you a beer out of nowhere at the Brass Mug before asking the bartender if she'd like to "do fuck." Metal is about as cool as dirt-weed, as cool as your oldest brother's brown leather Indian tracking boots, the ones with the rawhide laces that go up to the knees.

At least, that's the perception.

Nü-metal was about as close to American cool as the genre has come in two decades, and nü-metal in general sucked so badly that kids only a couple of years out of their Papa Roach phase shudder to find that the only clean black T-shirt left in the drawer says "Taproot" on it. Nü-metal set heavy metal's already nonexistent Stateside hip-quotient back so far that all-ages scenesters — this generation's arbiters of cool — don't even want to utter the word. Why do you think so many bands call themselves metalcore or screamo? No cool young band in its right mind would label itself as simply being metal.

Except Trivium.

"I hate the name metalcore," says Trivium guitarist Corey Beaulieu. "We just say we're a metal band, because that's what we always wanted to be, and that's what we're doing. We draw from so many different styles, I think it's a bad thing to label yourself metalcore. If you pigeonhole yourself like that, if you try to break away, people get all pissed off. We always try to keep our options open, so we can do different things on our records, and use different influences."

Over the course of five years, Trivium (it's a Latin term for the intersection of the three schools of learning, grammar, rhetoric and logic, and how so-uncool-it's-cool is that?) has risen through Orlando's foamy surface scrim of Adult Contemporary rock and tween-pop to become a worldwide phenomenon and symbol for the re-emergence of quality American metal. Not metalcore, not screamo; METAL.

This unbelievably young act — Beaubieu is 22, and Trivium singer/guitarist Matthew Heafy is just now edging into his 20s — found inspiration in the instrumentally adept '80s thrash its contemporaries left long behind. It then added a bit of everything worthwhile that's happened in metal since the New Wave of British Heavy Metal crossed the pond, and created a technical, punishing sound that's simultaneously classic and current.

Beaulieu, a confirmed metalhead since his early teens, was letting Internet links lead him from Metallica to Slayer to Iron Maiden in middle and high school, while his friends were listening to Green Day or Creed or whatever the flavor of the week happened to be. After graduation, he moved to O-town for college, where he saw an early version of Trivium supporting a bigger band at a local club.

"I was really into the style, it was right up my alley, exactly what I would want to play if I started a band," he remembers.

He befriended Heafy, and about a year later called him up when a notice that the band was looking for a new guitar player popped up on Trivium's website. The band had just finished recording its first full-length, Ember to Inferno, for tiny German label Lifeforce Records. The music was so close to what Beaulieu himself was doing that he learned the album's complex arrangements in a couple of days.

"I joined, like, a week after they recorded it," he says. "I just got a CD-R of the shit. That's the kind of stuff I was writing and playing ... it was an easy thing for me to pick up."

Things happened quickly after that. A solidified lineup of Heafy, Beaulieu, bassist Paolo Gregoletto and drummer Travis Smith fell into place. A song from Ember to Inferno ended up on a compilation, and caught the ears of somebody at venerable metal-and-Nickelback label Roadrunner. Trivium was signed after sending in some demos of new material that included "Like Light to the Flies," which would become a standout track on its Roadrunner debut, Ascendcancy, which dropped in March of '05.

Trivium found itself touring the States and abroad, sharing the stage with heavy groups from legendary San Francisco underground act Machine Head to nü-metal/metalcore fencerider Killswitch Engage. If there were any questions regarding the group's loyalty to the metal scene, they were answered via Trivium's immediate acceptance among Britain's notoriously hardcore extreme-music fanatics, and a consistently swelling throng of admirers in heavy metal's official home base, mainland Europe.

"Overseas, we picked up in the U.K. really fast, Ireland, Scotland," Beaulieu says. "But it wasn't ... just now we're starting to pick up in Europe. It takes a while; it doesn't happen overnight to get really known. We started out playing smaller shows — that was over a year ago. We've been doing the big festivals this summer, and now people know us. Once you get the fans over there, they usually stick with you and support you. And it's just now really picking up, where we're getting to the next step."

Though it seems the band has been on tour since Ascendancy came out, Trivium actually found time to write and record the follow-up during breaks from the road. Titled The Crusade, the disc is slated for an October release; while the artwork and other assorted post-production details are being worked out, the act is already back out on the road, as a featured player on the ultra-heavy Sounds of the Underground Tour. When asked about the album, Beaulieu speaks at length about any artist's need to evolve, regardless of trends. He says Trivium won't ever settle for fitting in with whatever happens to be cool, or for being anything other than what it is: a metal band.

"We definitely wanted to break ourselves out of being labeled a metalcore band [with The Crusade]," he emphasizes. "We never were in the first place, but because of the vocals, we kind of got lumped in with that by default. We wanted to break apart from that, and metal-wise, do what no other band out there is really doing right now: '80s, early '90s thrash, riffs, grooves, melodies, heavy stuff.

"It'll definitely be different than what else is going on out in the music scene right now. We're not reinventing the wheel, but we're taking the classic metal and putting a modern twist on it, really doing something that isn't really being done at this moment."

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