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Trivium has only grown stronger since 2003's Ember to Inferno. That album's mix of classic thrash (early Metallica) with 21st century metalcore rage and progressive metal flourish still roils here. But Ascendancy's fire is more ferocious and its transitions more confident, which means the band is even more dedicated to its clever throwback sound. This is even more impressive when you consider that no one in Trivium is old enough to legally rent a car. The lineup has shifted -- joining vocalist/guitarist Matt Heafy and drummer Travis Smith are guitarist Corey Beaulieu and bassist Paolo Gregoletto. But they're a ridiculously tight quartet, unleashing thrilling dual guitar passages and pummeling kick drum gallops as surely as they do melodic breaks and vicious throat screeds. The verses of "Rain" and "Pull Harder on the Strings of Your Martyr" blister the brain, while Heafy channels James Hetfield effortlessly in the choruses. "Martyr" is particularly insane, its hurricane solos piled on top of percussion that simply engulfs the rhythm. From a technical standpoint, Trivium is often astounding. It's worth reading along when Heafy's screaming becomes unintelligible. Though his lyrics cover familiar territory -- gloom 'n' doom, emotional pain, revenge -- he gets off great lines like "You ask me 'Oh God why?'/'Cause I'm God, that's f*cking why" and "Disintegration constituents to decompose of the parts." Gregoletto steps up for the intro to "Gunshot to the Head of Trepidation" before it transforms into a metalcore rant, "Deceived" is downright melodic (but still totally heavy), and there's a great extended bank of guitar solos in "Drowned and Torn Asunder"'s midsection. Ascendancy aligns real-deal thrash with powerful modern influences. But at all times it's a platform for Trivium's own crazed talent.

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