Following close to two decades on the back burner, Ember To Inferno, the debut album from metal titans Trivium has been given the release it deserves. Regularly overlooked for its older sibling Ascendency, Ember To Inferno was never given the time, nor handling to flourish as though it should.
Damn-near alchemy, the album was a perfect mixture of purist metal, melodic death metal and metalcore. Two out of three of those things was normal, but all three is the equivalent to finding a unicorn with a black mohawk and a studded jacket. Somehow, Ember fell largely upon death ears.
That was until Trivium frontman Mat Heafy once again obtained the rights to the album. Now, it’s out in the open once more, flanked by a flurry of previously unheard and unreleased demos in the form of the Red, Blue and Yellow albums.
We spoke to Heafy about the re-release and the situation surrounding the “cursed” record.
Music Feeds: Most people would bury and hide the music they made as a 16-year-old, but you’re re-releasing Ember To Inferno into the world, featuring even more demos. Why now?
Matt Heafy: Why now? Let’s see. With the record, ever since it came out it’s been cursed. When we first signed to Life Force records we were incredibly excited. I remember when release day hit, we all went to our local record store to buy the CD, and lo and behold it wasn’t available anywhere. Not because it sold out, but because distribution deal Life Force had wasn’t really together yet.
MF: I started with Ascendency and eventually went back to Ember and found it was very much ahead of its time. Was it frustrating to see Ascendency taking off so rapidly or were you too caught up in that cycle to really look back?
MH: I mean, we were very let down when we couldn’t find the record. In our mind, the best thing that happened with Ember is that it got us signed to Roadrunner then everything was set up correctly. Then we started touring, got a correct record deal where you could find the record everywhere. Looking back now at Ember I think you put it best, Ember To Inferno was ahead of its time and I feel that’s why it didn’t get the recognition.
MF: It feels as though, at least within this community- the heavy music community, that the turbulent first record is almost a rite of passage for bands who want to be successful…
MH: That definitely can be said. With our band it’s been a different path because with every record we do, it seems like a different territory opens up. With record 7, America finally opened up to us. We use to view America as one of our smaller territories but now that’s really not the case, and that’s only by record 7 which is kind of insane.
Record two cracked the UK and Australia. Record 3 opened up the door for Europe and in ways got us Germany. So it’s always been random as far as which record does what for us.
Now when I look at it I don’t think anything uneven. I feel like we roughly get the same draw everywhere on the planet. It’s a respectable draw but it’s nowhere near where we want to be. There’s still a lot more room to grow, a lot more room to grow and thankfully because we started so young we still have the time to put all the work in.
MF: Metal fans are weird with their favourite albums. There is a sect of Trivium fans who proudly stuck to Ember and never put it down. How does it feel to know something you write so long ago is still getting people through their day-to-day adult life?
MH: It’s amazing. I love that we have so many subgroups of fans that have specific favourite records. We have fans who love Ascendency and hate The Crusade or the other way around. Recently I asked online to list their favourite Trivium albums in order. What was funny was that there were no consistencies. No one had the same first or second or seventh. Everything was drastically different at all times. There was no synopsis of what people liked it was just completely random.
MF: I can’t just let you off the hook there, how do you rank your favourite Trivium records?
MH: Obviously my order can change any any day of the week but right now, if I had to put them in order I’d probably say Ascendency, In Waves, Shogun, Ember To Inferno, Silence In The Snow, The Crusade and Vengeance Falls. I think that’s all 7, right? So, yeah that would be my order.
MF: And don’t you think it’s interesting that we all might have a different idea of what ‘Good’ Trivium is but we can all meet under one roof for a show and get along?
MH: Exactly. There’ll be fans that love this record or hate this other record but that’s fine because we’ll be playing stuff from all seven. I think maybe some of the things people don’t like about a song that’s on a record, it can be completely different live and a lot more fun for them.
MF: Now it’s being re-released, so many fans will be re-discovering the album and there’ll also be people who are intro’d to the band by discovering it for the first time. Does this mean you’ll have to add more Ember tracks into the live setlist?
MH: We have been playing quite a bit of Ember stuff over the years – one or two songs a set and I think we’l keep it at that. I don’t think we’ll play anything off Red or Blue. Ember is the stuff that will constantly be put into rotation. We’ve been playing more of them over the past few years. Falling To Grey might be the only one we’ve never played, so we should probably play that one someday.
MF: Did that leave you itching to get back into the studio?
MH: Not quite yet. I still feel like Silence was recorded pretty recently. The only plans for us are hitting that final European tour and enjoying this little bit of a break we have while rehearsing at the same time then having a proper, well deserved vacation after the European tour.
MF: Usually this is the time in the interview where i’d ask if you were bringing the album Down Under any time soon…but you were literally just here…
MH: Yeah! We were just there. Australia is one of my absolute favourite countries to be in. Some of the nicest people, best food, best weather, best everything. I hope we’re back there soon.
The re-release of Ember To Inferno is out now. Grab a copy here.