Trivium Raise The Bar With New Album What The Dead Men Say
“I’m calling out to you, can you hear me?”
“I’m calling out to you, can you hear me?” This is the opening line to the title track from Trivium’s latest album What The Dead Men Say and the answer to the question is a resounding “Hell yes, we do!” With two decades in the industry and eight albums and hundreds of sold-out shows already under their belt, Trivium has just released the album of their career. What The Dead Men Say sets a whole new standard for what a metal album can be. It’s a testament to their drive and dedication to their craft with ten new songs that are simply going to melt your mind.
During the course of their twenty-year career, the Florida quartet has been quietly rising to new heights. Their seminal Ascendency album not only sold over 500,000 copies worldwide but also earned them KERRANG’s 2005 Album of the Year award and a Top 15 spot in Metal Hammer’s 100 Greatest Metal Albums of the 21st Century. Building on that momentum, the band went on to release six consecutive Top 25 debuts on the Billboard Top 200 and five straight debuts in the Top 3 on the Hard Rock Album Chart. 2017’s The Sin and the Sentence would push the band past a quarter of a billion (yes, that’s correct, billion) streams with the song “Betrayer” earning them a Grammy nomination for Best Metal Performance. Trivium would soon become a metal giant in their own right sharing the stage with legendary metal bands like Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, and Metallica at huge festivals including Download, Bloodstock, KNOTFEST, and more.
When 2019 rolled around and it came time to work on the new music, the band really took their time. Without the pressure of time constraints, they were able to focus on the album, honing the songs, spending countless hours rehearsing, and perfecting each and every element of the music, and boy has it paid off. In fact, by the time they entered the studio with producer Josh Wilbur, they had everything completely tracked in under 16 days! Wilbur, who has also worked with the likes of Lamb of God and Gojira, was on board for The Sin and the Sentence album and seems to be a great fit for the direction the band is going in.
“Throughout our career, we’ve learned who we are,” exclaims Heafy. “Now, we’ve got it all dialed-in. What The Dead Men Say came together so efficiently and organically. It’s the result of all the time we’ve spent together as friends. We’ve found a really great place to exist in this world. We love melodic death metal, we love death and black metal, and we love hardcore. What The Dead Men Say is everything we do on one record. It will be straightforward at times, but it’s also super heavy and technical. It feels dense, but it’s incredibly short. We’re flexing our creative wings in a different way on every single song. To pour all of those facets into one record and make it work embodies what we are. We’ve been doing this for a while now and we aren’t those same brash kids that made Ascendancy and talked a big game. We’ve honed our vision and craft. This band is our lives. This album is us. We all look forward to seeing where it goes from here.”
“To be on album number nine and have a chance to better ourselves and our music is humbling,” states Paolo. “We’ve put everything into Trivium in order for it to grow and sustain. It’s an honor for me to play with these guys. It’s exciting just to go out on stage and know they’re as into it as I am.”
Let’s dive into the nuts and bolts of the record, shall we? Can a metal album be heavy as hell but also beautifully melodic? It seems like an oxymoron but it really isn’t. What The Dead Men Say is a masterpiece of melodic metal, full of catchy hooks and anthemic choruses, but it’s also pure punishment, unyielding, and relentless in its brutality. Things start out with the introductory track “IX,” as acoustic guitars engulf you before a crisp riff takes over. Halfway through the drums kick in and the anticipation builds to a wall of searing guitar work, a perfect way to begin the journey and segue into the title track.
“I’m calling out to you, can you hear me?” sings vocalist Matt Heafy and the first thing I notice is the tonal quality of his voice. It’s up in the mix and it draws you in. The song was inspired by a short story written by Philip K. Dick in the late 50s with the same title and bass guitarist Paolo Gregoletto ran with it and is responsible for over eighty percent of the lyrics. It has a killer chorus before the breakdown and a volley of guitars, drums, and bass take over leading to the final ascent back into the anthemic chorus. Wow, what a song!
Prepare for the pummeling because next up is the single “Catastrophist.” It’s heavy and balls out with clean vocals on the verses that serve the song well. The song is almost seven minutes of crushing emotions to go along with the grueling guitars of Corey Beaulieu and Matt Heafy. I know that the song wasn’t written about the current COVID-19 pandemic but in the sense of our world being changed in a catastrophic, immediate sense, it certainly fits.
“The harder we fight, the faster we fall (fall)/Stabbed in the back, defeated we crawl,” shouts Heafy as “Amongst The Shadows And The Stones” literally slams you up against the wall. This song is merciless from the first guttural scream and doesn’t let up the entire way through as drummer Alex Bent is absolutely barbaric behind the kit. It’s easy to imagine the mosh pits moving on this one.
After that, we could all use a bit of a breather and it comes in the form of “Bleed Into Me,” a melodic track that pulls you emotionally deeper and deeper as the soaring vocals take you to new heights. The stage is then set for what I can only call a pure metal anthem with “The Defiant.” The contrast between the clean vocals and the uncleans is seamless throughout but really stands out on the chorus. “I stand in defiance of your ways,” is followed by the guttural chants “The defiant, the defiant.” This is the song that will have festival audiences standing shoulder to shoulder, fists pumped in the air, shouting along. It’s a classic in the making and I can’t get enough of it.
Guitarist Corey Beaulieu’s emotional trip to scatter the ashes of his grandparents provided the starting point for what would become “Scattering The Ashes.” The melody is majestic and immense with soulful backing vocals. The opening salvo and distorted guitar of “Bending The Arc To Fear” is perfection and just when you think it can’t get any better, it does. Do not miss the joyful cacophony of sounds just past the midway point of the song, pure vicious bliss.
The album ends somewhat the way it begins. “The Ones We Leave Behind” is another terrific track with a superb chorus and an excellent mix of melody and raw power. Toward the end of the song, the guitars take over the melody, almost an extension of the vocals, bending here and there, to a final conclusion.
With What The Dead Men Say, Trivium delivers the goods like never before. It’s every influence that inspired them, every skill that was painstakingly learned, every technique that was practiced for two decades, coming together seemingly effortlessly into one cohesive album of epic, metal madness. Crank it up!