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Given the success of Trivium’s In Waves, which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard hard rock charts in August 2011, you might expect the Florida-based bad boys to rehash the magic formula on the new Vengeance Falls. But Trivium never makes the same record twice.
“We’ve always said we’re the kind of band that does what it wants at any point in time,” says vocalist/guitarist Matt Heafy. “When we released The Crusade, it was the polar opposite of a Ascendancy, which had been very successful for us.”
After releasing In Waves, Trivium immediately began writing songs for the new album. Within a month the band penned “Vengeance Falls,” which would become the title track. A year and a half later the band finished songwriting and was ready to record. They enlisted Dave Draiman, frontman for both Disturbed and Device, as producer. Recording the band at his house in Austin, Texas, Draiman pushed Trivium beyond their comfort zone. He also assumed the role of Heafy’s vocal coach, helping him extend his upper range.
According to Heafy, Draiman made clear that he wouldn’t interfere with the band’s identity: “He said, ‘I know what your sound is. I’m not here to change that. I’m here to help you exemplify and evolve your best elements.’” The result is Trivium’s most adventurous release to date.
Premier Guitar caught up with Heafy and lead guitarist Corey Beaulieu on their tour bus.
How did Dave Draiman enter the picture?
Heafy: In 2005 we opened for Danzig in Chicago at the House of Blues and Dave Draiman, who happened to be living in Chicago at the time, was there. He told us he was a fan, which was cool because we were Disturbed fans. In 2011 when we did the Mayhem festival together, we gave him a copy of In Waves. He listened and said, “I think this is the best record you guys have ever done, and I would love to work with you.”
Beaulieu: He loved the songwriting progression and the melodic delivery of that record. After hanging out and seeing how much he knew about making songs and records, it just seemed like a no-brainer.
What influence did he have on your music?
Beaulieu: You can definitely hear Matt’s voice getting stronger and his range getting better on this record from all Dave’s coaching.
Photo by Chris Schwegler
Heafy: Dave is a very regimented worker, just like us. Anytime we tried to simplify something too much, he’d say, “You guys are better than that. Let’s show people.” There are several songs where he helped enhance the playing. “Brave This Storm,” for example. Initially it used the same repeating riff. But Dave said, “I feel like every time this part happens, it should evolve.” Now the guitar part changes every single time. Same thing with the verse riff of “To Believe.” Typically we would have just had the same cycle eight, 16, or 32 times. But instead, every time that part comes around, it evolves into something slightly more difficult. It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to play and sing at the same time. Not because of the individual guitar or vocal part, but because the two rhythms are so different. Dave always pushed me. He’d say, “We can do anything we put our minds to.”
Beaulieu: Usually metal guys record one instrument at a time—you do all the drums, then all the bass, and so on. On this record, we broke it up. We did half the record on drums, and then we’d do two or three songs at a time on guitar and bass, and Matt would start singing. We were doing vocals the whole month we were recording and not waiting until the last week. We did everything faster because there was always something to record. If someone was burned out, someone else could jump in and start tracking. We recorded this record in about a third the time it took to make any other record. It was kind of an eye-opener. I can’t see us going back after doing it this way.
Some fans were initially worried about Draiman being involved.
Beaulieu: On the internet there’s always some jackass who has to say dumb shit. We work with who we want to work with. Dave is great. I don’t listen to critiques because I really don’t care what anyone has to say. I love the record. It’s exactly what we wanted to make, so it’s like, “Your opinion means absolutely nothing to me.”