While they're busy criss-crossing the States as part of Mayhem Festival this summer, we take a look back at Trivium's classic '05 album 'Ascendancy' in our 2013 Hall Of Fame feature. In their own words, this is how Trivium's second album changed the metal landscape for years to come.
This feature was originally published in Issue 171 of Rock Sound (March 2013).
RELEASED: March 15, 2005
PRODUCER: Jason Suecof
PERSONNEL: Matt Heafy (vocals / guitars), Corey Beaulieu (guitars / vocals), Paolo Gregoletto (bass), Travis Smith (drums), Chad Sunderland, Andy Sneap, Gizz Butt (additional backing vocals)
ARTWORK: Paul A Romano
‘Ascendancy’ would change everything for Trivium. Barely out of high school but accomplished beyond their years, 2004 saw the four Floridians working on a monster that would soon take the world by storm, not to mention surprise.
Matt Heafy (vocals / guitar): “It’s amazing looking back now, because when we started crafting that record we didn’t have fans. There were a couple of local kids and our parents were into it, but aside from that, there was nothing. We were just writing the music that we wanted to hear.”
Corey Beaulieu (guitar): “At the time we didn’t do a whole lot as a band. Matt, Travis [Smith, former drummer] and I would just meet at our rehearsal space after Matt got out of school. A lot of songs like ‘Like Light To The Flies’, ‘The Deceived’, even ‘Pull Harder On The Strings Of Your Martyr’, came from warm-up jams there. We’d be fucking around and then someone would come out of nowhere with a cool riff, and we’d start building a song around that.”
Matt Heafy: “We would rehearse in this area of scary chop shops and all sorts of weird shit. Some people would hide out there, a lot of people ran illegal restaurants – it’s a place where terrible things would happen! ‘A Gunshot To The Head Of Trepidation’ was written on the Vegas strip, on our second ever tour. We were young, looking for some Vegas pick-me-ups. Eventually we ended up somewhere in Vegas doing crank [meth]! I showed Travis the riff that I’d come up with for ‘...Gunshot...’, and he started playing something on the floor. We were all so drunk and fucked up that we thought it sounded great, but when we listened back it was weird... but we kept it. In a strange way it actually made that song.”
Corey Beaulieu: “I was busy playing slot machines in the casino at the time!”
Paolo Gregoletto (bass): “The first tour I did with Trivium was a Road Rage tour alongside Machine Head and Chimaira, and we were doing pretty much all ‘Ascendancy’ material.”
Robb Flynn (Machine Head): “Even then you could tell Matt was super-driven, he could easily command the stage.”
Matt Heafy: “Those Road Rage tours were crucial for us, especially the one that brought us to the UK and Europe for the first time.”
With the rough outlines down, the band hit the studio with producer Jason Suecof...
Paolo Gregoletto: “When we got together with Jason, a lot of the songs came right... but we gave him a nervous breakdown first! For two weeks we couldn’t get the guitars right, nothing was working. He was losing it. Eventually he had to give Andy Sneap [mixed / mastered ‘Ascendancy’] a call to work out how to save it, and it turned out we were using the completely wrong tuning!”
Matt Heafy: “Travis and I flew over to Andy Sneap’s cottage in Derbyshire for the mixing of the record. We tracked the ‘Heys’ in ‘...Gunshot…’ there too. We all went out and got pretty fucked up, and then went back to the studio. Andy had all these meat hooks hanging from the ceiling in his house, because it used to be an old butchers shop or something. We kept hanging onto them and kicking back and forth at three in the morning.”
Corey Beaulieu: “We tracked the drums at Morrisound Studio in Florida. While Travis was working the rest of us brought all these chicks down to the studio. We were hanging out, partying with them in the apartment upstairs, blasting music, while Travis was doing takes. He was pretty mad! It was a fun time.”
Starting one of the biggest media frenzies in recent memory, ‘Ascendancy’ pushed Trivium further than they ever could have expected – in more ways than one.
Paolo Gregoletto: “We were pretty carefree before it came out. I don’t think Roadrunner anticipated that much: there’s no way they could have predicted that ‘Ascendancy’ would do what it would do.”
Matt Heafy: “We didn’t think about cause and effect, we didn’t care about consequences. English people know that more than anyone from our early magazine features. They caught us right at our cockiest, right at our drunkest!”
Paolo Gregoletto: “You say stuff that you shouldn’t. You’re getting all these emotions at once, and you don’t know what’s going to come.”
Matt Heafy: “Nowadays it’s a piece of cake but when it first happened, I was completely destroyed by it. Magazines would say that we were going to be the greatest thing in the world, and then the exact same magazines would come back and say ‘They’re over, they’re done’. It’s weird to grow up in that environment. We were still in our teens, trying to figure out what we wanted to look like as people, what we were trying to say.”
Mark Palmer (Ex-General Manager, Roadrunner UK): “They were very open in saying they wanted to be as big as Metallica, to be successful all around the world, and that was very refreshing. That kind of confidence led to a backlash.”
Paolo Gregoletto: “That was such a short-lived phase in our band, but because it was the first media coverage, it lives on.”
Matt Heafy: “There were a lot of jealous bands who wanted the same coverage, it was horrible. I guess the press just wanted to sell the drama.”
Corey Beaulieu: “We had so many bandwagon fans who only cared because we were the new cool thing.”
Paolo Gregoletto: “The thing is though, some of those fans have stuck with us. I meet kids who’ve been coming out since that time… they’re like, ‘Your album came out when I was 10’. That’s amazing.”
Robb Flynn: “I love those dudes, I’m really proud of them. They’re students of the game, they know their music inside and out... they’re some of the good guys.”
Corey Beaulieu: “We toured the states for a while after ‘Ascendancy’ came out and it just felt normal. We could walk out in the crowd and hang out. When we showed up in the UK we walked off the bus and all these kids ran up to us screaming. We’d never experienced that before. We were like, ‘Who are they looking for?’”
Paolo Gregoletto: “People chanted our name at the first UK show, in Wolverhampton. I was like ,‘Are you shitting me?’ Then there was Download...”
Matt Heafy: “I remember being backstage 15 minutes before the Download set, looking out at this huge, empty field. As soon as they opened the gates it was like a scene from Braveheart, thousands of kids all running towards the stage.”
Mark Palmer: “You got the sense that everyone was willing them on, wanting them to do well. It just seemed like their moment.”
Paolo Gregoletto: “Sometimes great records go by the wayside because it’s not the right time for them. It was the perfect time for us.”
Corey Beaulieu: “Big breakthrough records usually happen when there’s a changing of the scene, when there’s a new style growing. It’s like with Slipknot and Killswitch – they were on the cusp of starting something new. ‘Ascendancy’ came at a time when metal was evolving into something different. Bands like Rise To Remain and Asking Alexandria got into metal through that record. Even Black Veil Brides saw us when we came out.”
Matt Heafy: “Nowadays, there are actually successful bands who’re influenced by us. That blows my mind... It still does.”
Trivium are on Mayhem Festival all summer long in the States. Want to see a bunch of photos of them bossing Download Festival earlier this year? Course you do. Click here.