Trivium – What the Dead Men Say (Album Review)

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There’s something to be said for the raw emotions embroiled in teenage angst, the purity in youthful anger at the world, the despairing sort that lends itself well to the creation of furious art. But there’s something more to be said for growing into a world that gives you reasons to be angry, a more mature, resolute fury that demands precise creative execution in its expression. With eight full-length albums and almost two decades of experience under their belt, Trivium has grown beyond lamenting howls, and demands absolutely undivided attention in their upcoming album “What the Dead Men Say.” One of their heaviest and most unforgiving works yet, “What the Dead Men Say” is a potent blend of poetic melancholy and unbridled aggression that proves to be a culmination of Trivium’s many successes. Replete with superb musicianship and a number of surprises for longtime fans and new listeners alike, Trivium leave no doubts that they are at the top of their creative game.

There is no mistaking that this is Trivium through-and-through, with no drastic stylistic leaps from “The Sin and The Sentence” to break the spell. Instead listeners can expect to see a refined, more bold approach to songwriting that doesn’t shy away from embracing longer tracks, dynamic song structures, and using the benefit of a consistent drummer to make the percussion more integrated than it has been since Travis Smith left the band. “What the Dead Men Say” features drummer Alex Bent on his second straight album, and this time had the benefit of his membership and artistic contributions throughout the song writing process. Songs such as “Bleed Into Me” show unity the band has achieved through a consistent lineup, a trend which carries through a range of tracks that lend themselves to each member’s particular talents. Bent’s personality shines through brightly on “The Ones We Leave Behind,”rising above the heavy bass that Trivium has always required to deliver a multi-dimensional performance that varies speed alongside intensity. Title track “What the Dead Men Say” demonstrates the incredible sync between Bent and longtime bassist Paolo Gregoletto, both musicians in perfect step with one another as the song dips into a slower, gravely bass tone after descending from the lightning strike of Corey Beaulieu’s guitar.

One notable distinction for “What the Dead Men Say” is that vocalist Matt Heafy has elected to utilize primarily clean vocals throughout the album, only raising his voice to a scream for a few moments of notable impact. The contrast of his vocal magnitude against the sheer grit of the bass and speed of the guitar make for an irresistible combination that perfectly captures the emotional spectrum Trivium has grown to be capable of. “Catastrophist” is a stunning example of this juxtaposition, the undercurrent of the song roaring hot and fast while Heafy infuses melancholy and hints of bitterness with his surprisingly smooth tone. A far cry from the unrestrained fury of Trivium’s breakthrough album “Ascendency,” pushing the boundaries of their creative energy without anguished screams gives “What the Dead Men Say” additional layers and depth that were not achieved even in the evolution of “Silence in the Snow.” But where “Silence in the Snow” was more vocal-led, there is no point in this latest opus where Heafy emerges as the unquestionable centerpiece; rather, “What the Dead Men Say” is a collaborative effort that sees vocal contributions as just one component of a well-coordinated masterpiece.

“What The Dead Men Say” Album Artwork

Sickness Unto You” is one of the most impressive tracks on “What the Dead Men Say,” ascending beyond mere infectious melody and incredible musicianship to the realm of the cinematic. From the deceptively tender opening through the galloping of Bent’s unstoppable percussion, every moment of this track is perfectly curated to give listener’s an unparalleled listening experience. At nearly seven minutes long, “Sickness Unto You” is far from the traditional metal-core punch that Trivium had been partial to in the late 2000s, but instead harnesses instrumental segments that give Beaulieu the opportunity to cross an emotional spectrum far more broad than his energetic soloing. Instrumental passages which see Beaulieu and Gregoletto partner in a demonstration of masterful musicianship build out the soul of “What the Dead Men Say,” even further highlighted on the powerful verses of “The Defiant.”

Within each track and across the album as a whole, Trivium has shown incredible growth and maturity to make their most emotional and melodic release to date, increasingly intricate songwriting and decisive creativity making for one of the year’s strongest albums. The precision of the technical execution and superb musicianship are the backbone of “What the Dead Men Say,” but the album commands attention with its sheer strength of stylistic identity. Rich melodies injected with unrestrained aggression mark Trivium’s latest chapter, but the repetitive and occasionally abrasive choruses that seem made for the radio are still ever-present. For all of its complexity and melodic growth, every moment of “What the Dead Men Say” is absolutely infectious, and has the power to stay with a listener and demand replay after replay. There is something in this album for everyone, but one might not know what it is until the song has already hit them straight in the chest with its might. Wherever Trivium steps from here, be it down this same path or diverging elsewhere, it will be in the shadow of “What the Dead Men Say.”

Released By: Roadrunner Records
Release Date: April 24th, 2020
Genre: Metal

Musicians:

  • Matt Heafy / Vocals
  • Paolo Gregoletto / Bass
  • Corey Beaulieu / Guitar
  • Alex Bent / Drums

“What the Dead Men Say” Track-listing:

  1. IX
  2. What the Dead Men Say
  3. Catastrophist
  4. Amongst the Shadows and the Stone
  5. Bleed Into Me
  6. The Defiant
  7. Sickness Unto You
  8. Scattering the Ashes
  9. Bending the Arc to Fear
  10. The Ones We Leave Behind

9.4 Excellent

Trivium ascends to new heights with “What the Dead Men Say,” reaching for the stars with more melody and technical complexity than ever before. In an album that is as aggressive as it is passionate, Trivium has made a definitive declaration of their talent and identity with infectious appeal.

  • Songwriting 9.5
  • Musicianship 9.5
  • Originality 9
  • Production 9.5
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