Written by Alex Stojanovic
What The Dead Men Say
Amongst The Shadows & The Stones
Bleed Into Me
Sickness Unto You
Scattering The Ashes
Bending The Arc To Fear
The Ones We Leave Behind
Release Date: April 24, 2020
Label: Roadrunner Records
Matt Heafy - Lead vocals & guitars / Corey Beaulieu - Guitars & backing vocals
Paolo Gregoletto - Bass & backing vocals / Alex Bent - Drums & percussion
When it comes to Trivium, their history can be split into two eras, much like Metallica. There's the classic era from Ember To Inferno up to Shogun, which had Travis Smith on drums, and the modern era from In Waves up to now, which featured numerous drummer changes. The modern era certainly contains great stuff, but nothing can compare to the classic era in my opinion. I guess that's the old-school fan in me talking, because I became a fan just before The Crusade came out in 2006, so that's why I love that era. When In Waves came out, some songs started incorporating more down-tuned, djent-type riffing, which was never my thing. Case in point, the song "In Waves". It has become one of the band's biggest songs, especially in a live setting, but the song as a whole is a bit on the weak side, if you ask me.
To an extent, What The Dead Men Say can be considered as a sequel to The Sin & The Sentence, because there isn't really a drastic difference in sound. The record opens with "IX", which is split into two parts. The first half utilizes clean guitars, while the second half is electric. The title track then blasts off with a Herculean riff that can be compared to a giant troll swinging his hammer and destroying everything in its path. As the song continues, it goes through many different changes, creating a journey. Just about all the songs on the album do exactly that. It goes without saying that the addition of Alex Bent has helped take the songs to a new level of intensity. Ever since he came into the band, he's been one of the main talking points, and he's still being rightfully raved about.
If you're a fan that prefers the more melodic side of Trivium, and you came in around Vengeance Falls and Silence In The Snow, "Scattering The Ashes" is like a cross between those two records. The song touches on elements from both of those records, where it opens with a melodic riff, leading into a hooky verse, and transitions into a soaring chorus. This is also the first track where I can hear Paolo Gregoletto's voice during the harmonized vocal section in the bridge. It honestly sounds like an outtake from Vengeance Falls. While we're on the subject of melodic songs, "Bleed Into Me" is another melodic track where the screams are pushed to the background, but the clean vocals take centre stage. On the other hand, the technical abilities are on great display. For example, on "Catastrophist", I love the metric modulation that happens in the bridge, which gives it a Dream Theater flavour, while "Amongst The Shadows & The Stones" has a lot of changes going on with fast thrash riffs and vicious screams. These two tracks will find favour with a lot of prog metal fans. "Bending The Arc Of Fear" carries a vibe reminiscent of Shogun with the epic quality of the chorus, while the epic closer "The Ones We Leave Behind" is like a culmination of the entire record in just 5 minutes.
As a drummer, I always find myself critiquing drum performances from any band, pointing the good and the bad. While Alex is undoubtedly the band's best drummer since Travis Smith, and he shines brightly with his technical abilities, I still feel that there were sometimes where he went a little overboard on the fills. There's nothing wrong with flashy and technical fills, but it can be overdone sometimes, which may sound a little odd coming from me. The difference between Alex and Travis is that Travis also incorporated flashy and technical fills, but he never went overboard. He always knew exactly when to add a flashy fill, and when to pull back a little bit. Alex on the other hand, I feel that he incorporates a few too many fills just for the sake of it, and that takes away from the feel of some songs. I'm not trying to sound snobby, it's just how I feel. Aside from that, the man's a beast.
I am also glad that they put the band name on the cover artwork, because they haven't done that since Shogun. Not that it really matters, but I thought I'd just point it out. Much like The Sin & The Sentence, there's a lot to absorb here. With Alex in the band and after years of experimenting and searching for themselves, Trivium have certainly found their niche on these last two records. What The Dead Men Say is a great continuation of where Sin left off. On a more serious note, there's a good chance that the band's summer tour with Megadeth and Lamb Of God is going to be postponed due to COVID-19, but that doesn't mean that you can't pick up the record. If you loved the last record, you're going to love this one even more. I'm sure that by the time they hit the road again, fans will be begging for the entire record to be played, just like they did with the last record.
Highs: Addictive hooks, super heavy riffs, fast thrash sections, infectious melodies, crystal clear production.
Lows: Alex Bent goes a bit overboard on the flashy fills, taking away from the feel of some songs.
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