Trivium - Shogun

Trivium – Shogun – 2/5

Anyone with knowledge of the genre will no doubt have seen and heard Trivium’s name mentioned multiple times, hailed by many newcomers as a saviour to the genre, whilst more experienced ‘metal heads’ dismiss them as another example of why metal should stay out the mainstream media. So here we have the 4th album, the 2nd since they truly managed to make a name for themselves with “The Crusade.” So does it live up to they hype?

Firstly, anyone claiming this as an example of thrash clearly needs to go discover what thrash sounds like. This is metalcore – A combination of hardcore, post-hardcore and various metal influences. However, this is the first time I feel able to say they have produced something that sounds original. The vocalist manages to utilise three different styles of singing. Firstly, the rasped vocals heard in their first two albums is back, working in unison with the anthemic sing-along style heard in “The crusade” and a cleanly sung yet aggressive middle ground between the two. Whilst none of these are done particularly well (The rasping is highly monotonous, and the clean conveys very little in the way of power or emotion) it does serve to help keep the songs sounding interesting.

After a long – but not unwelcome - intro, the opening track kicks into a catchy, upbeat riff, successfully combining aggressive vocals with clean vocals until about halfway through the song it abruptly changes pace into a highly anthemic style. It will alternate between the two very different styles once more before the song closes. Whilst not an unwelcome change, the inexplicable change of pace sounds disjointed – like two songs pieced together. The rest of the album follows much the same pattern as this once the (often strong) opening riff is dispensed with, unfortunately not to be heard again until the final moments of the track.

It is at this point the album takes a dramatic turn for the worse, ‘Down from the Sky’ consists largely of the slow beating of a drum and a quick palm muted open E string between vocals, it leaves the vocalist very much alone, and he simply cannot carry the song and it quickly degrades in the background. As it would turn out, this problem would present itself in many of the songs.

In keeping with their pretences of being a thrash band, every song naturally contains a solo. Considering them as a separate entity they would probably be regarded as fairly good - Quick and upbeat, yet with attempts at combining this speed with a unique melody, however mechanical and emotionless the final result would be. In the context of the rest of the tracks, they once again feel disjointed. A slow pedal-noted (Playing a couple of palm-muted strings between notes left to ring) riff suddenly transitioning into a quick solo once again, only to return back to the riff simply feels forced, and I’m not sure why they wanted to do this. There were a number of points where they created a slow build-up which successfully created the sense of tension and anticipation only to have it fizzle out back into the main riff.

At the beginning of this review, I asked whether it lives up to the hype surrounding it. The result; a definitive ‘no.’ Not to say the album doesn’t show promise – it’s a drastic improvement over their past album, and shows the band finally settling into their own distinct sound. There are glimmers of promise to come. The intro’s for the songs, the solo’s, and the unique blend of hardcore and post-hardcore influences (however disjointed they currently are) for example, even if the end result finds itself wanting. This is a young band still near the beginning of their career, and this is the first sign that they may actually live up to expectations.

(Highlights: Torn Between Scylla and Charybdis, Throes of Perdition, Shogun)

By T. Bawden