Trivium - What the Dead Men Say
Roadrunner Records
Melodic Metalcore, Heavy Metal
10 songs (46:32)
Release year: 2020
Trivium, Roadrunner Records
Reviewed by Goat
Major event

Following on from the career-best highlight of The Sin and the Sentence, Trivium clearly decided to push themselves a little further and allow more melodic death influence into their ear-friendly style on their ninth full-length. Not to the point where you'd mistake this for, say, Insomnium, but there's a noted heaviness present that might make those who know the band from their early days check whether they're playing the right album! From the opening tones of intro IX, classy layered guitar strums that build into distinctly Swedish riffage before the title track explodes into thrashy life, there's a renewed energy and life to Trivium, with little Gojira-esque scrapes and touches of modern The Haunted to some of the heavier verses. It's all still tied together with Matt Heafy's excellent clean singing, of course. Yet the song structure here and elsewhere are notably more complex and almost prog-tinged, aided by the band's typical instrumental skill - and yes, that does include new-ish drummer Alex Bent, slightly less of an MVP on this album than last time around but still a vital strength for Trivium.

The band's radio-friendliness will always put them in a poppier metal category than some, but the likes of Catastrophist are far closer to Soilwork's recent material than what we might think of as typical metalcore. That track has a particularly good second half (despite Heafy's harsh yells increasingly making him sound like Slipknot's Corey Taylor) full of varied melodic riffage that touches on Mastodon-y prog, and even some blastbeats along the way. Material generally seems heavier than before, Amongst the Shadows & the Stones having a nicely galloping intro and a central section full of thrashy instrumental show-offery from the guitarists and drummer, while The Defiant is the closest thing present to Ascendancy-style metalcore, with immediate heaviness building to a triumphant chorus. It may be a song that Trivium could write in their sleep by this point in their career, but that doesn't make the results any less enjoyable, the same applying to the modern thrashiness of Sickness Unto You, reminiscent a little of the likes of Chimaira and Bleeding Through.

The one fault that can be pinpointed is an odd production decision giving the cymbal hits a strange distortion. Yet it also gives Paolo Gregoletto's bass more room to move resulting in a terrific bottom end which makes the intro to Bleed into Me crunchier and pushes what is a lighter, almost ballad-style song into heavier territory, particularly with the increased use of backing vocals from Gregoletto and guitarist Corey Beaulieu. Overall the production is tight and flawless, making the guitars especially sound great. What holds the band back is a slight reticence to move away from songwriting tropes they've grown used to, although you can hear them straining at the chains on the likes of Scattering the Ashes which is essentially pop metal played far too technically. The opposite example of this is the twisty Bending the Arc to Fear, probably the most complex and prog-tinged bit of metal on the album. What the Dead Men Say feels like a transitional album for Trivium to find their feet before they explore melodeath and prog metal influences more confidently, yet it's good to hear the band stretching themselves even a little to things that we haven't heard from them before. Let's hope they continue to do so - for the moment, What the Dead Men Say is a strong outing, if less catchy and enjoyable than its predecessor.

Killing Songs :
What the Dead Men Say, Catastrophist, Amongst the Shadows & the Stones, Bending the Arc to Fear
Goat quoted 82 / 100
Other albums by Trivium that we have reviewed:
Trivium - The Sin and the Sentence reviewed by Goat and quoted 89 / 100
Trivium - Shogun reviewed by Pete and quoted 78 / 100
Trivium - The Crusade reviewed by Jason and quoted 79 / 100
Trivium - Ascendancy reviewed by Jay and quoted 70 / 100
Trivium - Ember to Inferno reviewed by Jay and quoted 89 / 100
To see all 7 reviews click here
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