Overall Score: 8.5/10 Riffs: 9/10 Drumming: 9/10 Standout Tracks: 8/10 Pros: A band who have firmly worked out their best formula | Strongest album start from Trivium in over a decade Cons: Not quite as many stand out tracks as The Sin And The Sentence
2020 finds Trivium at the highest point the band have been at in almost fifteen years. Their previous album, The Sin And The Sentence, was heralded almost universally, including by us here at Rock Sins, as a massive return to form after two albums that had divided opinion. Subsequent tours such as their UK tour with Code Orange, Venom Prison and Power Trip, and festival appearances (a career defining appearance to this point at the 2019 Download Festival) mean that as their new album, What The Dead Men Say, approaches, Trivium may be ready to ascend to new levels altogether. Is What The Dead Men Say going to take them there?
All of Trivium’s best albums – Ascendancy, Shogun, In Waves, The Sin And The Sentence – have strong starts, and What The Dead Men Say certainly rises to that challenge. Arguably, it has the strongest start of any Trivium album since Ascendancy. After the instrumental opening IX, the album begins proper with the title track. One thing you can say about this song, and largely the album as a whole, is that Trivium have found a fine balance with their style. On The Sin And The Sentence, they (finally) learned they could make use of all their different styles both across an album and in individual songs as opposed to taking the “one or the other” approach. This very much continues on What The Dead Men Say. The title track rips through several excellent riffs, both of Matt Heafy’s main vocal styles are showcased to maximum effect, and the band’s rhythm section of Paolo Gregoletto and Alex Bent are on point throughout.
The album’s first single, Catastrophist, is perhaps an even better example of the 2020 incarnation of Trivium, as it essentially distills every previous Trivium album into six and a half minutes. The first half of the song is enjoyable, but when it ramps up halfway through at the “never had a chance!” it ramps up at least three gears and is Trivium cutting loose in a way they haven’t always been comfortable doing since Shogun. The true gem of the album’s first half is Amongst The Shadows And The Stones – the heaviest Trivium song to emerge since Shattering The Skies Above. Alex Bent’s considerable drumming skills are on full display here, the verses are short and sharp, the mood is dark and the gallop into the mid song solo is an excellent change of pace. This is a song that will incite pure chaos in a live setting, particularly the final minute.
Bleed Into Me is the album’s most radio friendly track and also the only misstep on the album, going a bit too far into syrupy rock ballad territory. The Defiant gets things back on track quickly, an upbeat song to match the title with riffs that feel like they’ve come from Ascendancy and a lot of positive energy throughout – one for the Spotify workout playlists.
Towards the end of What The Dead Men Say, Bending The Arc To Fear fills the now almost obligatory requirement of any Trivium album to have kept one of the best songs on the album until near the end. Matt’s harsher vocals are more in evidence here, and used to amplify the foreboding nature of the track, with moody riff work and sweeping tempo changes in the drumming creating a bleak feeling around the song – but in the best possible way.
The album closer, The Ones We Leave Behind, may hit harder at the moment than it would have anyway with the lyrical themes of introspection and self analysis being very poignant for many at a time when people may have more time with their thoughts than they would perhaps otherwise like. A track with a powerful message, it takes on a whole new meaning in the wake of the Coronavirus outbreak.
With What The Dead Men Say, Trivium have taken the success they found with The Sin And The Sentence and attempted to hone it further, and for the most part they’ve done it with great success. The first Trivium album not to take a directly different stylistic approach from its predecessor, the continuity in this case is both welcome and a success. There are not quite as many stand out tracks as there are on The Sin And The Sentence, but that is no great criticism given that almost every track on that album was single-worthy. What The Dead Men Say is a fine addition to the Trivium arsenal, and if the last three years are anything to go by, this will be the album to propel them to their biggest successes so far.
The new Trivium album, What The Dead Men Say, is released on the 24th of April 2020 through Roadrunner Records. Pre-order the album in a variety of physical and digital formats now.
Stay tuned to Rock Sins for a huge feature with Trivium frontman Matt Heafy about What The Dead Men Say and much more. *Update* – You can check out that feature interview with Matt Heafy on this link.