By Brandon “B-Mac” McCarthy
There is silence in the streets. The world has gone cold ever since COVID-19 showed its ugly-ass face. Concerts are being either cancelled or postponed, movie houses closed up, and theme parks have become ghost towns. These are seriously dark and sad days, but many of our metal heroes are more determined to keep our spirits high and intact. Trivium seeks to do just that during the lockdown period. The Orlando heavy metal juggernauts are back with their latest gift to us metalheads, What the Dead Men Say. Ever since 2015’s Silence in the Snow, Trivium has been dipping their toes into more modern metal and thrash metal, increasing their strength as one of most powerful modern metal acts in the world. I am always ready for new Trivium, and like light to the flies, I am drawn in to hear what the dead men have to say. If I am to honker down at home, might as well honker down to this.
We kick off the album with “IX.” This 2-minute instrumental melody starts off with a mid-tempo riff for the first minute, and then picks up with the faster licks and the swiftness of Alex Bent’s drums. Then we come to “What The Dead Men Say,” a straight forward metal tune that is a fast-paced emotional rollercoaster. Frontman/guitarist Matt Heafy shows off his melodic range with his voice while screaming in agony during the bridge. This song touches me because it is about lost and finding the strength to move forward, something my family and I are attempting with the loss of my dad. Both Heafy and his guitar comrade Corey Beaulieu slice through our ears with their intense shredding. Following that is “Catastrophist,” the first single. This tune kicks open the flood gates of molten heavy metal that brings thrash and metalcore together exquisitely. Heafy writes from the heart to give us a story of heartache and chaos. Bent and bassist Paolo Gregoletto deliver a thunderous punch to the beat, while Beaulieu blisters away an incisive solo. Screams echo in the beginning of “Amongst the Shadows & the Stones” as Heafy unloads with such a force. A song about the horrors of wars, Trivium captures the vivid point of view of someone who has witnessed these such dreads. Beaulieu goes off with the rails with a passionate solo that both dominant and somber. “Bleed Into Me” is full of raw sentiment that looks at disregarding personal struggles and/or feelings. The song is very slick with a progressive hard rock vibe. We all sometimes ignore our problems, and Trivium, in their own way, tells us to deal with them before it is too late. Paolo’s bass riff caught me by surprise as it added to the emotional toll of the song.
Halfway way through What the Dead Men Say, and we come to “The Defiant.” This tune explores the corruption of abuse and those who continue to do it with no remorse. It was said to be inspired by the R. Kelly documentary about his sexual abuse victims. Trivium goes full force with thrash excellence. Hopefully this song will inspire others to end abuse-enabling. “Sickness Unto You” is another aroused take on death. Heafy pays homage to his dog, who had to be put down and broke his heart. I can hear the pain in his hollering voice, which I believe is cathartic for him. The rapid motions of Beaulieu’s riffs, Paolo’s bass beats, and Bent’s rhythmic flow makes this song blazing with mournful relief. “Scattering the Ashes” is something I know very well. Another scorching modern metal harmony that tackles the subject of unresolved issues. Having lost my dad so suddenly, there is some things I wish I could say to him that I will never get to say. It really got to me, in a good way. Beaulieu cultivates this sweet solo that made me think about what I lost, but know I will see him again one day. “Bending the Arc to Fear” bends to the will of fear that has gripped the world through surveillance. The screeches of Heafy’s searing vocals are extremely ardent. The sullen riff work of both Heafy and Beaulieu is a cunning combination, mixing in pleasantly with Bent’s quick kicks. Obviously, Trivium saves the best for last with “The Ones We Leave Behind.” Giving our current crisis, the self-analyzation theme behind the song gives it a new meaning on life right now. The energy that was put into this song was staggering, with each player in sync with each other. The explosion coming off the guitar and bass strings will blow off eardrums everywhere.
What the Dead Men Say is one of the most emotionally invested records Trivium has ever put together. It touched me to the very core of my soul and it got to me a little because I would think about Dad. It was like they knew what I was personally going through right now. It was well put together by producer Josh Wilbur, who picks up where he left off from 2017’s The Sin and The Sentence. As of right now, there are plans to tour and rock out with thrash pioneers/legends Megadeth this summer, but that could change given what is happening right now. However, when it is all over, believe me, I will be there sweating bullets in waves. Til then, listen to what the dead men have to say, for they are wise. To Trivium, I salute you. Horns up, and stay safe!!!
2. What the Dead Men Say
4. Amongst the Shadows and the Stone
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
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