Review: Trivium – What The Dead Men Say

Metal needs Trivium. For all the hybrids and subgenres that keep our scene vibrant and progressive, it’s imperative that the bands who walk a more traditional path do so with quality.

That’s not to say that Trivium’s music isn’t possessed of a rich concoction – vocalist and guitarist Matt Heafy has professed his band’s love of death metal, black metal and hardcore – but they remain a heavy metal band flying a heavy metal flag.

Heafy himself has matured into quite the treasure. He’s as incisive as a curator as he is as a player, and he’s become a master of paying it forward.

Trivium are, after all, veterans of two decades’ standing. Their ninth album, What The Dead Men Say, was a challenge in that the band seemed to rediscover their voice on their eighth and haven’t always replicated their successes.

What The Dead Men Say is everything we do on one record,” says Heafy.

And when a band of Trivium’s standard pulls that off in a way that somehow hides the seams, the result is one hell of a record.

What The Dead Men Say has no shortage of chunky thrash riffs. The opening of ‘Catastrophist’ is particularly satisfying and its middle eight elevates it yet further.

‘The Defiant’ pushes the same button from the start and will appeal to fans of Trivium’s 2005 classic Ascendancy without ever sounding like a lazy transplant from it.

The aforementioned songs also boast two of the best choruses on an album blessed with plenty. ‘Scattering The Ashes’ is another even if, like much of this album, it’s not so immediate as to reveal itself at the first pass.

The title track is fabulous. Its opening riff is distinctive and inventive, and Alex Bent’s drumming gives it an impetus that really kicks the album into gear.

To the ear of a reviewer more accustomed to inaudible bellowing the chorus was, on first listen, a jarring reminder that Heafy’s lineage stems more from Metallica than Morbid Angel. It hasn’t left me alone for five minutes since.

‘Amongst The Shadows And The Stones’ explodes from the get-go and packs a furious chorus that offsets clean verses that are, frankly, so very Trivium.

The album’s second longest song is ‘Sickness Unto You’, which begins at pace – blast beats and all – and just gets better and better. Its simple but effective chorus is another with a grip that won’t quit.

The thrash section in the middle is, perhaps, the outstanding highlight of What The Dead Men Say. Sometimes the greatest pleasures are the basest.

The lead guitar work on this album is excellent; that’s one aspect in which Trivium have never faltered. But its biggest strength is its consistency. What The Dead Men Say is a terrific metal record from front to back.

Sometimes you just need modern, trad-flecked metal, constructed and played to an exceptional standard with all the nods to its heritage left intact and unashamed. Look no further.

What The Dead Men Say is out now on Roadrunner Records.

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Chris Nee
Editor