Review: Trivium – What The Dead Men Say (2020)

8.5 Originality
9 "Heard It Before"
9 Creativity
9 Musicality
9.5 Lyrics and Vocals
9

Time to dust off my review skills for this year’s new Trivium album What the Dead Men Say, which comes out in 10 days on April 24th. I’ve got no concerts to go to and photograph, so this release has been one carrot at the end of a stick guiding me through this tough quarantine.

I’m going to do this review a little bit different this time. I’m writing this part right now before hearing any of the album beside the tracks released so far, “Catastrophist” and the title track. For a band with such high importance like Trivium has for me, I have a good amount of wishful thinking as to what I want this album to be: 

I want What the Dead Men Say to be the most cohesive album yet. I want a clear vision of what the album’s goal is trying to achieve. Albums like their 2008 Shogun, or Fall Out Boy’s Folie a Deux are favorites of mine because they’re just so easy to listen to from front to back and are very obviously that album. I hope for this to be the heaviest album yet, with plenty of progressive metal influences thrown in, like weird time signatures and weird chord progressions. With the way the album has shaped up so far with the two songs released so far, the album looks to have a good shot at achieving a lot of these wishes of mine. I get distinct In Waves vibes (their 2011 album) so far, at least visually, which gives me hope for the rest of the album. Maybe we’ll get an In Waves + The Sin and the Sentence baby? 

Better get listening to the album…

  1. IX – The intro of the album. Not much to say about it other than it gives off feelings of “The End of Everything” off Ascendancy, but improved upon. 
  2. What The Dead Men Say – Of the two songs released so far, I liked this one more. This is another song where Matt shines vocally. I love how he seemed to focus more on higher vocal notes throughout the album, compared to say Silence in the Snow. That first screamed “go!” and the riff following will never fail to get me to headbang.
  3. Catastrophist – This song was released more than a month ago and I still don’t get how Matt is able to hold that long not of his in the chorus near the end. Great song to have released first and along with “What The Dead Men Say,” they sum up the album very well. 
  4. Amongst the Shadows And The Stones – 15 seconds in and I yelled out the loudest “Holy fucking shit!” This is my favorite of the album after my first full playthrough. Think a combination of A Skyline’s Severance and Chaos Reigns, mixed with The Wretchedness Inside. So chaotic, so energetic. Makes me want to throw hands and is going to be such a good moshing song. This needs to be played live. 
  5. Bleed Into Me – 6/8 time! The “simple” song of the album, but it’s hard to compare it to similar songs of previous albums like “Dying In Your Arms” or “Endless Night,” though it’s probably most like the latter, just slightly darker and melancholy in tone. Super catchy song; I’m going to have the chorus and main riff stuck in my head for days now
  6. The Defiant – I love the chorus and build up of this song. I also love how this album that oozes a darker, more grim tone so far, can have such an upbeat vibe and message: “I stand in defiance of your ways/Nothing can absolve you of this hate.” The main riff would fit perfectly into The Crusade and Matt sounds his absolute best in this song. Pretty sneaky key change too near the end, which I didn’t pick up on my first few listen. I’m a sucker for a good key change.
  7. Sickness Unto You – My first thought was Matt sounding a bit like M Shadows from Avenged Sevenfold with the first sung line and his rasp in his vocals, and I’m here for it. I love the weaving in and out of 4/4 time for the verses and 6/8 for the chorus. Heavy breakdown in the middle reminiscent of Sever The Hand. Probably the first ever blegh from Matt as well! The prog metal lovers are going to love this song.
  8. Scattering The Ashes – I’ve heard rumors that this is going to be the next song released before the album releases and I can see why. I’m not the hugest fan of it, and it’s probably my least favorite of the album. It doesn’t really connect with me, but I do like that it sounds very much like Paolo, their bassist, is singing background vocals on it with Matt. I think this must be the first time for him on record singing, at least where it’s pretty obvious.
  9. Bending The Arc To Fear – Feelings of Shogun’s “Kirisute Gomen” when this song starts and more Gojira vibes throughout. This feels like the most riff filled song of the album and is going to be one that takes awhile to dissect and digest. If you liked the long scream ending of the Pillars of Serpents re-record, you’re going to like a small part near the end of this song.
  10. The Ones We Leave Behind – This is probably the harshest we’ve heard Matt’s vocals in significant lengths of time in many years. The song starts off similar to “The Sin and the Sentence” and ends in a dual guitar solo type riff. My first thoughts are that it’s a odd song to have as an album closer, but I have the feeling it’ll end up growing on me.

After listening through twice, I have a hard time trying to answer when I ask myself if I like What the Dead Men Say better than The Sin and the Sentence. That is something I’m going to take as a good thing, because it sounds too different from The Sin and the Sentence to be able to directly compare it, which was actually one of my worries. I didn’t want just part two of the last album. But what I do know for sure though is we got another stellar album from this group of guys and I couldn’t be more proud. Matt continues to impress with and improve with his vocals, and sonically this is one of the best sounding, best mixed records I’ve heard. 

If The Sin and the Sentence was the band laying down a solid framework of writing and playing what they want to and one-album-culmination of everything they’ve done previously, then What the Dead Men Say is the band taking the next step and improving on that formula. I got my wishes for a cohesive record, as well as incredibly heavy parts and time signature changes. I don’t want to say that this is the band’s best album yet, and I don’t think I even can, but it’s absolutely deserving of praise and a special spot among the rest of the band’s now nine album discography. Given time, maybe I will be able to say it’s the best, but as it stands now, I’m just content and excited to dissect every part I can of this new piece of art.


Trivium
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