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Trivium - "What The Dead Men Say" (CD)

Trivium - "What The Dead Men Say" CD cover image

"What The Dead Men Say" track listing:

1. IX
2. What The Dead Men Say
3. Catastrophist
4. Amongst The Shadows and The Stones
5. Bleed Into Me
6. The Defiant
7. Sickness Unto You
8. Scattering The Ashes
9. Bending The Arc To Fear
10. The Ones We Leave Behind

Reviewed by on April 24, 2020

"“I would venture to say this is Trivium at their most polished and intense.”"

Hailing from Orlando, Florida, Trivium has been cranking out their unique style of metal since 2003. To date, they have released eight studio albums, with the ninth album, “What the Dead Men Say,” being released on Friday, April 24, 2020. Fronted by vocalist Matt Heafy, who also plays lead guitar; the band is rounded out by Corey Beaulieu on lead guitar and backing screams, Paolo Gregoletto on bass with clean background vocals, leaving Alex Bent on drums. This time around, the band is aiming to capitalize on the success of their previous album, “The Sin and The Sentence”; an album which debuted Bent on drums for the first time, was also arguably the heaviest, fastest, and most technical in years from Trivium. After listening to “What The Dead Men Say,” I’d say this album eclipses its predecessor in several ways. There are a couple of tracks that would easily work as radio-friendly singles, but much of this album is heavier than most of their catalog. It is also written with a technical prowess not seen in most metal bands.

The album begins with the intro song “IX,” which leads off with an instrumental part reminiscent of “The End of Everything” from their first major success “Ascendancy,” and halfway through kicks into a more aggressive section that meets up beautifully to our first true song on the album, the namesake, “What The Dead Men Say.” This is the second song that was released prior to the album and truly is a quintessential song for Trivium. It flawlessly melds melody and intensity with precision.

“Amongst the Shadows and the Stones” is the first taste the world has had of how wonderfully intense this record can be, and I don’t believe it’s the heaviest or fastest overall. It begins with Matt’s visceral screams of “bloodied corpses, broken bones reveal, a throng of clashes, our nightmare sealed...” It should come as no surprise to anyone that the rest of the song is like a tsunami crashing into your eardrums. It rarely slows down and I have zero complaints about that.

Another song that stands out is “The Defiant,” as it could’ve been written around the same time as “Ascendancy,” with guitar riffs that are fast, thrashy, and more prevalent on their debut album than on more recent albums. It has the same feel in the chorus as “Dying in Your Arms,” but also has similar tones, musically, as a few songs on the album “Shogun.” With the next track, “Sickness unto You,” you are taken on a journey into a situation, which I assume is very personal to Matt or someone else in Trivium. Musically, this song is just as heavy and fast as you would expect, being several songs deep in the album at this point. Vocally, though, it’s intense in a different way. This song touches on the topic of death, but the lyrics paint a picture of how heartbreaking this death was to deal with for whoever was coping. The most intense section of this song is ushered in by Matt screaming “A part of me is fucking dead, my lungs are filled up with regret, for every day I was away, I’ll never be whole again.” Then we are treated to a musical interlude that’s filled with breakdowns and timing changes, met with Alex Bent’s signature drum fills that almost shouldn’t fit, due to how crazy they are, but they do.

Have you ever heard a song that you can immediately tell will be the catalyst for the largest circle pit of a live show? That perfectly describes “Bending the Arc To Fear.” This one is, in my opinion, the most intense song on the album. The first minute is incredibly fast and does not relent. When you sense a break coming from the fast tempo and tremolo guitar riffs, you’re just bludgeoned in the face with heavy, crushing riffs and breakdowns before it switches right back to the feverish pace again.

There are only a couple songs on “What the Dead Men Say” that feel like the radio-friendly hits Trivium has cranked out several times previously and my favorite off of this album is “Bleed into You.” It begins with a haunting bass riff from Paolo, which is a nice change of pace from the rest of the album. Oh, and the chorus is absurdly catchy. It maintains a radio mellower feel while also still having moments of intensity to remind you that Trivium is always capable of balancing beauty and brutality. Think: “Until the World Goes Cold,” “Dead and Gone,” and “The Heart from Your Hate” and you’ve almost got a good grip on what this track has to offer sonically.

“What The Dead Men Say” is the perfect album for newcomers and old-school fans alike. The band has touted this release as the perfect combination of their previous efforts. After hearing this release many times, I have to say that they did not mislead by setting that expectation. I would venture to say this is Trivium at their most polished and intense. Trivium is at the top of their game and I’m confident that this album will help catapult them to an even higher level of success moving forward.

Highs: This album is, surprisingly, better than its predecessor and that’s a feat I wasn’t sure was possible.

Lows: I can’t think of anything I’d change about this album.

Bottom line: This is possibly the best Trivium album thus far. It combines the very best parts of every album and song to date. And if you’re new to the band, this is one hell of a way to start your journey into their discography that’s spanned almost 20 years now.

Rated 5 out of 5 skulls
5 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)