ALBUM REVIEW: Trivium – What The Dead Men Say
It’s hard to believe Ascendancy really did come out fifteen years ago. Much in metal has changed. Of the bright young hopes of the time who all released beloved and important records, Avenged Sevenfold have clearly had the most success, Bullet For My Valentine looked like they were going to match it before derailing hard with a misguided album…and then we have Trivium, sitting somewhere in the middle. Doing just fine, selling thousands of tickets, but never smashing into the arenas occupied by the others, never truly being at the top of the pile. If that didn’t change with their superb eighth album The Sin And The Sentence, it has to with this one, as we will explain.
The title-track opens the record, after an instrumental track which will probably open the post pandemic touring cycle. It’s a certified rager with a powerful vocal performance and an excellent chorus that would certainly justify the response of being sung by ten thousand or so folks in an arena. Catastrophist continues the high quality with its many twists and turns, and monster drumming performance from the impressive Alex Bent, who’s taut playing gives these songs a potent attack akin to Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool side. Also, the moment where things boot off into the next gear at around the three minute mark is possibly the best single moment of the entire record. You will be singing “You’re a catastrophist” whilst eating your morning cereal, it’s that strong a hook.
This thought is then thrown into a blender, when Amongst The Shadows And The Stones backhands you with its barn-burning introduction. Guitar solos are all over the shop here, thrown at you with delicious abandon, but it’s very smartly done in bursts of no longer than about twenty seconds, impressing without delving into self indulgence. This is a recurring motif throughout the album, alongside big time choruses and shoutalong backing vocals.
There’s even the obligatory shorter songs, and they are also excellent. Paolo Gregoletto’s bass anchors Bleed Into Me whilst Scattering The Ashes bears similarities to songs like Dying In Your Arms, no bad thing as Dying was and is brilliant.
The musicianship across this record is of the highest quality throughout. The band refines its talent for writing technically challenging music, whilst still being anthemic and accessible enough for those who aren’t looking for a prog metal record. This balancing act is something many, many bands simply cannot do no matter how hard they try, and it’s a trick probably best accomplished by the likes of Machine Head with The Blackening in the 21st Century. The album ends on a ridiculously strong note with a killer one-two knockout blow of Bending The Arct To Fear, with its delightfully spiralling, thrashing main riff and its crushing Gojira worship riff at the two minute mark, and The Ones We Leave Behind, with some delightfully Iron Maiden twin lead moments. A delectable distillation of everything Trivium were and are.
Production is handled by Josh Wilbur, his second straight run in the producer’s chair and this partnership continues to bear delicious metallic fruit. The album sounds punchy yet very clean and crisp, and it also does a really great job of bringing out Paolo Gregoletto’s bass, which is always welcome and always excellent. This album tightens up the good work from the previous album, wisely being ten minutes shorter.
If you didn’t think they had come of age before, What The Dead Men Say is an authoritative statement that Trivium are no longer young pretenders but thoroughbreds truly in their prime, stacked to the gills with powerful, modern metal songs.
Ascendancy was the sound of four musicians going to school and stealing their peers’ lunch money. What The Dead Men Say is the sound of those same students straight up running the place as the senior management team. Not only should they get to arenas with these songs, they should never be allowed to be anywhere else ever again.
Standout Tracks: Catastrophist, Amongst The Shadows And The Stones, The Ones We Leave Behind
For Fans Of: Metallica, Machine Head, Iron Maiden
Written by: Louis Tsangarides