Once again, Trivium have some fire in their bellies following a period of dubious decision-making and divisive musical output. While neither 2013’s David Draiman-produced Vengeance Falls nor 2015’s power metal-tastic Silence In The Snow were stinkers (both warmly received by critics, both producing songs that have remained setlist staples), they evidently weren’t what a lot of fans were looking for. Fears grew that they’d scuppered their momentum, much like they had a decade prior with The Crusade.
Thankfully, 2017’s The Sin And The Sentence set things right by taking us back to basics: no outside influences, no cheese, no nonsense, just full-throated heavy fucking metal. Bolstered by an astonishing run of live shows, the message was clear: Trivium were on a tear again.
Which brings us to What The Dead Men Say. In years gone by, this is the point where Trivium would overthink their next move, side-stepping into bemusing experimentation or cynical box-ticking. Not this time. This album rips.
The title track sets the tone: riffs, riffs and more riffs, pinned together by tight, muscular drum work from Alex Bent and enough hooks to snare Cthulhu. Catastrophist is another riff-storm armed with a big-ass chorus, its relentless six and a half minutes continuously dialling up the pace and intensity. Amongst The Shadows And The Stones is an explosive clash of battering blastbeats and rumbling basslines, Matt Heafy’s snarling roar sounding like he’s spent the two and a half years between records gargling hot coals. Bleed Into Me is a sombre, see-sawing anthem that tugs at the heartstrings without flopping into overwrought bollocks, while The Defiant feels like Trivs took Heart From Your Hate and sent it to bootcamp. Sickness Unto You could have come from The Blackening, such is its scope, lurching from swaying riffs into thrashing gallops into a tremolo-packed midsection into blastbeats into stomping great grooves into… look, there’s a lot going on.
Scattering The Ashes is a high-octane heavy metal banger charged with emotion. Bending The Arc To Fear indulges Trivium’s extreme metal influences with lashings of black, death and Gojira-esque pick scrapes, leaving The Ones We Leave Behind to wrap things up in spectacular style. It’s stupidly fast, epically heavy and boasts a commanding, empowering performance from The Heaf, sounding like a man who could sing an army straight off a cliff.
Despite the slight shift in Trivium’s song-writing process – bassist Paolo Gregoletto contributed the lion’s share of the lyrics – there is absolutely no upending of balance or identity here. Quite the opposite: despite the album’s many layers, this is as taught and focused as Trivium have ever sounded, and at nine songs (plus intro), it never outstays its welcome.
The Sin And The Sentence got Trivium back on the horse. What The Dead Men Say has them winning again. One of metal’s most beloved bands are on the form of their lives right now. It doesn’t get much better than that.