Trivium
Shogun

I always thought Trivium was a decent band, but I just couldn’t get past Matt Heafy’s monotonous screams. It’s no surprise then that their last record, The Crusade was one of my favorite releases of 2006. The screams were pretty much gone, there were better hooks, and despite being complete Metallica worship, I thought it was a very solid record.

Based on that, I was really looking forward to hearing Shogun, but to be honest, I’m not quite as impressed with this record. As I understand it, some of the fans of Trivium’s first records were turned off by the mostly clean vocals on The Crusade. Here, they try to mix it up with mixed success.

The record opens with one of the better blendings, “Kirisute Gomen.” Despite its lyrical challenges, it gets the record off to a good start. That’s followed by a nice galloping opening riff on “Torn Between Scylla and Charybdis” that will remind listeners of the last record. The lead single, “Down from the Sky,” is surprisingly one of the best tracks here. It opens with a really nice bit of music that’s almost bluesy before heading back into the familiar thrash territory. There is an unfortunate “Boat, rudder, strange mountain” scream section on the bridge, but the chorus comes back with a sort of progressive feel that really works.

That progressive thread runs throughout the record. It’s never blatant, but you’ll hear passages scattered around the record that put you in a prog frame of mind, like the chorus of “Down from the Sky” or the opening licks and chorus of “Into the Mouth of Hell We March.” They always bring it back to the thrash riffing that’s part Metallica, part Testament with an occasional hit of Pantera. The Metallica worship being most apparent on the Ride the Lightning flavored “Insurrection.”

There are some inspired moments scattered throughout the record. The opening guitar riff of “Throes of Perdition” is one of the record’s most memorable moments, and the groove that follows is a nice one, though the song gets kind of bogged down after that.

The record suffers when they decide to slow things down a little bit. “He Who Spawned the Furies” is, I think, supposed to sound a bit sinister. But Heafy’s deep voice just doesn’t work, and the doubled vocal track on the verse is too over the top to take seriously. “Like Callisto to a Star in Heaven,” a pretty solid thrasher is brought down by a similar effect, the deep spoken bit that Pantera used to do well, but the voice here doesn’t pack the menace that Phil Anselmo does.

Shogun is not an awful record. I like it better than Trivium’s efforts prior to The Crusade, but it certainly doesn’t connect with the old thrasher in me the way that record did. Perhaps it will grow on me with more listens, but for now, it’s just a mediocre record that’s overshadowed by a lot of much better releases this year.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Fred Phillips
October 27th, 2008

Comments

  1. Commented by: Dan

    I’ve really tried to give Trivium a fair shake over the years. I thought maybe purists were just giving them a hard time, but after repeated attempts to listen to them, I’m afraid they just flat out suck. The riffs are boring. The vocals are boring. The song structures are awkward. The list goes on. If you say this is even worse than the last record, I’m not even going to try anymore.


  2. Commented by: Dan

    Plus, watching Matt Heafy deliberately alter his image to fit with whatever is popular is kind of irksome. Makes me wonder if he’s been doing the same to his music.


  3. Commented by: swampthang

    This was decent the first time I heard it. But then after another listen to it the commercialism starts to show and images of hot topics pants and slipknot shirts on teenagers with nasty dreads surrounded by tubby girls pop into my head. In reality there just another shit band among the masses of other shit bands!!!


  4. Commented by: Staylow

    I really enjoyed Trivium at one point in time. That mainly being Ascendancy – still an album I like at least a little bit. I enjoyed several moments of The Crusade, but they seemed to be overshadowed by the bad, such as Heafy’s ultra whiny clean vocals, and a good does of terrible lyrics from time to time.

    With that said, and the 3 songs I heard from this one prior to release, I really have no desire to hear the rest of it.


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