In the alternative metal field, there are plenty of bands offering a heaven/hell and melody/brutality sort of contrast -- bands that include, among many others, Hopesfall, From Autumn to Ashes, and the Postman Syndrome. One minute, they're being brutally ferocious; the next minute, they lighten the load and become more melodic. And that is exactly the type of approach that Trivium favors on Ember to Inferno. Throughout this CD, the Florida trio's 2003 lineup -- Matt Heafy on lead vocals and guitar, Brent Young on bass, and Travis Smith on drums -- fluctuates between metalcore ferocity and something more forgiving. Typically, a Trivium song will go from metalcore harshness -- suffocating density, sledgehammer cruelty, screaming vocals -- to a more melodic style of power metal/fantasy metal. It's as though you're getting Brick Bath one minute, and Iron Maiden or Queensrÿche the next; there's enough of the hardcore element to make the disc relevant to 21st century alt-metal, which prevents Trivium from sounding retro, but there's enough power metal to give the listener some breathing room. In other words, Trivium fluctuates between using a nasty, flesh-tearing bullwhip on their listeners, and employing a soft, leather flogger that has a milder sort of sting. It's an appealing approach -- at least if you hold metal core and power metal/fantasy metal in equally high regard -- but not a unique one. Again, many other alt-metal and metalcore bands were doing this type of thing when Ember to Inferno was recorded in 2003; some did it better, and some not as well. After a few tracks, Ember to Inferno begins to sound predictable and formulaic; you know that the hammer-to-the-skull assault will inevitably follow a melodic passage, and vice-versa. Nonetheless, headbangers will find Ember to Inferno to be a likable and competent, if less than distinctive, example of alt-metal's good cop/bad cop juxtaposition.
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson