REVIEW: Trivium – ‘What the Dead Men Say’

Review by Greg Maki
Why Trivium isn’t one of the biggest metal bands in the world forever will be a mystery to me. Since breaking through with its second album, “Ascendancy,” in 2005, the Florida-based act consistently has released good to great albums, refusing to be hemmed in by subgenres and unafraid to make relatively drastic changes in its sound from record to record. Not to diminish the back catalog, but in a way it now plays as a preamble to album number nine, “What the Dead Men Say,” which takes all the disparate styles the band has dabbled in and melds them into a cohesive, compelling whole.

You often hear veteran bands describe a new album as something along the lines of a greatest hits collection but with new songs. Trivium has done something much more complex, mixing and matching elements from previous releases within songs to create a batch of tunes that feels fresh and new, rather than simply rehash what already has been done. That’s how you get a masterpiece of a song like “The Catastrophist,” which starts along the more straightforward lines of something from “The Crusade” (2006) or “Vengeance Falls” (2013), then ventures off into progressive territory a la “Shogun” (2008) and even gives us blast beats before wrapping up. Other songs, such as the title track, incorporate “Ascendancy”-like harsh vocals alongside big choruses that could have come from “Silence in the Snow” (2015). “Amongst the Shadows & the Stones” finds Trivium at its heaviest, while “Bleed into Me” is as radio-ready as anything from the David Draiman-produced “Vengeance Falls.”

All the players are in top form throughout—including longtime members vocalist/guitarist Matt Heafy, guitarist Corey Beaulieu and bassist Paolo Gregoletto—but I want to single out drummer Alex Bent. He’s the first Trivium drummer to stick around for more than one album in more than half a decade, and it’s easy to see why, as his playing takes the band to a whole new level. And let’s also give credit to producer/mixer Josh Wilber (Lamb of God, Gojira, Avenged Sevenfold, among many others), because this record sounds fantastic—crisp, clear and huge, but not in a way that overwhelms the listener.

“What the Dead Men Say” is a masterpiece, a defining moment for Trivium that cements its place as one of the finest metal bands of the 21st century.

Rating: 10/10

Roadrunner Records – April 24, 2020


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