10/17/2008 - Review by: Hail and Kill
Like its namesake, Trivium's newest expresses the band's desire to sonically rule over the metal world in the same fashion as Japan's medieval dictators. But do the masterful moppets succeed? Hell yeah! And you can flip your middle finger at all the haters. Nothing they say can stain this album's sparkling veneer. While so many bands preserve their 'integrity' by sticking to a genre and steadily evolving within self imposed boundaries, Trivium distance themselves from 'The Crusade' and adopt a new skin that borrows 'Ascendancy's' growls but keeps everything else fresh. On opener 'Kirisute Gomen,' Matt Heafy channels his Japanese heritage for a thrashing death metal infused epic that could have belonged to their last album, but is far too complex and adventurous for a place in the band's back catalogue. Enter Trivium circa 2008.
'Torn Between Scylla and Charybdis' is not only another song title mouthful ala 'Pull Harder...' but also shows the band's delving into Greek mythology to mine it of lyrical fodder. Beginning with a soft, uncharacteristic intro that's more rock than metal, 'Torn Between' showcases Trivium in their newfangled melodic glory; the swinging guitars carrying the whole thing along to Matt's cleanest vocal performance ever. 'Shogun's' finest moment is the mournful 'Down From the Sky,' whose 'I've opened up my eyes/and seem the world for what it is/tears raining down from the sky' chorus delivers more of that trademark Trivium drama the world has grown to love. Its follow up 'Into The Mouth of Hell We March' is so positive it's already power metal despite the exchange of hoarse growls between Matt and Corey, an arrangement that permeates each song on 'Shogun.'
'Throes of Perdition' has this cybernetic start running like a countdown for the grooving wave of heaviness that sweeps you away, and is then redeemed by Mr. Heafy's crystal clear singing. Despite the staid screams of 'Die!' around the middle, the song maximizes Trivium's specialties: strong choruses, lyrical drama, and pure melodic majesty. The band's thrashier side is manifested on 'Insurrection.' Along with other Trivium'—ion' songs ('Ignition,' 'Detonation') it brings their jagged riffs and Travis Smith's impeccable tomtom rolls to the fore. 'The Calamity' places the band in a different continent; some melodic outfit from Sweden or the Netherlands could have written it. 'He Who Spawned the Furies' is a mid tempo anthem that mixes melancholy verses and shimmering guitars while its counterpart, 'Of Prometheus and the Crucifix' has more of those rattling tomtoms from Smith, then morphs into a speedy sing-along rocker. 'Like Callisto To A Star in Heaven' utilizes metalcore breakdowns straight out of 'Ascendancy' and is the whole album's most headbang worthy tune.
'Shogun' slowly exhales its dying breath on a winding title track that lazily clocks in at 11 minutes, you'd be tempted to draw comparisons with Savatage but it just doesn't make the grade. Trivium are a completely different band now, the early hallmarks of their sound like armor for the fearsome melodic beast they've become. Whether your feelings toward the band are torn between love and hate, these guys will be headlining shows for the next two years before they surprise us with another record. Buy this album to aurally witness the next Iced Earth.
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