Trivium - Silence In The Snow
Watching Trivium’s career evolve over the years has certainly been interesting. From the fresh faced, guttural band that announced themselves unto the world and The Crusade’s ultimately failed attempt at thrash metal commercialism, to the show stopping Shogun and beyond, each new chapter has been as polarising as the last.
When the hype machine first began revving up around them, alongside fellow youthful metal acts like Bullet For My Valentine and Slipknot, here was a band being tipped for greatness. Obviously Slipknot have achieved much more notoriety and are one of modern metal’s true titans, but Trivium’s output has been, for the most part, equally as consistent. While they arguably achieved perfection on Shogun, you have to credit them for not resting on their laurels and shooting for the same sound with their following releases. Machine Head, having stunned the world with The Blackening, have continued down that same path – and nailed it, frankly – but Trivium, fronted by an ever-improving vocalist in Mathew Heafy, have pushed themselves into new trajectories.
And therein lies this album’s centre of gravity: Heafy’s voice. Alongside Disturbed’s David Draiman – who produced previous album, Vengeance Falls – Heafy’s vocal techniques improved tenfold and you really felt him unleash himself on that release, even if the riffology of Shogun, which had evaporated a little on In Waves, was continuing to shrink in the rear view mirror. In 2015, their frontman’s vocal abilities are stronger and mightier than ever and so you can understand the band wanting to revolve much of these new compositions around this newly sharpened weapon. The problem is that it is at times a little too focused on showcasing the vocals – the riffs and musical thump that this band is so damn capable of are left in the shadows at times. Dead And Gone – a song that will have you singing along instantly in an uncanny manner – Until The World Goes Cold and the title-track itself are heavy on chorus loops. Simplistic but virulent and contagious by nature, there are no prizes for guessing why exactly they play out so many times in their respective homes, but there will be many out there craving that the Shogun era band – and earlier – would have buried we, the listener, under a barrage of dingy, purging riffs as well as hammering us with powerful choruses.
"In 2015, their frontman’s vocal abilities are stronger and mightier than ever and so you can understand the band wanting to revolve much of these new compositions around this newly sharpened weapon. The problem is that it is at times a little too focused on showcasing the vocals – the riffs and musical thump that this band is so damn capable of are left in the shadows at times."
The thing is, I want to like this album more than I do. The songwriting is as solid as a pervert’s erection; The Ghost That’s Haunting You, which is led by a sharp twin guitar harmony before progressing into a robust, rhythmically pounding verse and lofty chorus, emphasises just that. It’s a master stroke, really, every section grabbing you for its own unique reasons, but other moments are a little more flat. As I said, Dead and Gone has a fantastic chorus as its centrepiece, but, having opened with two singles – Silence In The Snow and Blind Leading The Blind – this is the first chance to convince people that the new Trivium record on the whole is worth your hard earned money. It starts with promise thanks to a skittish riff that sounds like the cousin to djent, but the verse is slightly off-colour and the structure seems a little too formulaic, a little too predictable. Pull Me From The Void struggles with this too, sure, it’s a half decent song, but it never scintillates you, never surprises you by breaking from its expected flow. Beneath The Sun (Don’t Fade Away), similarly, relies too much upon your cliché Trivium chorus. For many fans, this will be exactly what you want, but for me at least it could do more to impress me. It’s a shame as every other section is on point – the dark, brooding verse which builds into a punchy pre-chorus and the bridge are proof positive that this band can still write some metal music. Ultimately though, the chorus sounds lazy and lets the side down. As a trio of songs, they are wholly expendable.
It’s on Blind Leading The Blind where they really hit the bullseye. Here they convey themselves as the band much of the world wrote them off as being incapable of being long, long ago. Full of riffs, some astonishing solo work from the often underrated Corey Beaulieu, a really, really catchy pre-chorus – the groove in the guitars swaggering – and a chorus that strides that awkward middle ground of typical, earworm chorus and something a little different. It’s a song sprinkled with pixie dust. The problem is that there are too many songs here which you can take or leave either way.
Beneath The Flames, which closes the record, is possibly the heaviest song on here. It’s devilish. New sticksman Mat Madiro really shines on the intro, dominating the mix and making his presence known as he joins a lengthy list of drummers who have left their percussive mark on this band’s legacy. The song has a real snarl and grit to it – think metalcore mixed with thrash – and ends the album on a very high note. Everything here sounds inspired and on a different level to much of the record.
But as the final broken chords ring out, I ask myself, am I satisfied? And honestly, not completely. There isn’t that sense of breathlessness or awe you get when a new album really grabs you. It’s a solid album in terms of songwriting, the band are hardened veterans in the metal business now, but it’s only good – not amazing.
As a record to showcase Heafy’s phenomenal singing, it is perfect. He marries soul and strength beautifully. He comes across so slick and confident, his execution emphatic and clinical. But, while there are plenty of musical highlights, it’s only really an album to cherry pick the best songs from and let them rest happy in your musical collection for the next few months at least.
...bonus points for such a wicked album cover though.
Words: Phil Weller