ALBUM REVIEW: Trivium – ‘What The Dead Men Say’

Words by Thom Hawk

Trivium are back with vengeance after the success of ‘The Sin And The Sentence’ with their ninth full-length studio album titled ‘What The Dead Men Say’ from Roadrunner Records. The GRAMMY® Award-nominated Florida quartet, Matt Heafy [vocals, guitar], Corey Beaulieu [guitar], Paolo Gregoletto [bass], and Alex Bent [drums] have crafted an album that incorporates all the elements that we have come to love from Trivium’s signature style. 

“Throughout our career, we’ve learned who we are,” exclaims Heafy. “Now, we’ve got it all dialled-in. ‘What The Dead Men Say’ came together so efficiently and organically. It’s the result of all the time we’ve spent together as friends. We’ve found a really great place to exist in this world. We love melodic death metal, we love death and black metal, and we love hardcore. ‘What The Dead Men Say’ is everything we do on one record. It will be straightforward at times, but it’s also super heavy and technical. It feels dense, but it’s incredibly short. We’re flexing our creative wings in a different way on every single song. To pour all of those facets into one record and make it work embodies what we are. We’ve been doing this for awhile now and we aren’t those same brash kids that made ‘Ascendancy’ and talked a big game.  We’ve honed our vision and craft. This band is our lives. This album is us. We all look forward to seeing where it goes from here.”

The opener of ‘What The Dead Men Say’ is aptly titled IX (or 9 in Roman numerals). Think of this song as one that plays during the opening scrawl of a movie while setting the energy of the album to come. It’s an eerie and suspenseful track that gives you goosebumps with clean guitar and atmospheric instruments that then kicks into the same riff, but played with heavily distorted guitars. This song is a brilliantly strong way to open the album and I’m hoping it will be the intro song for their live shows when they start touring again. It would be the ultimate hype song to listen to before an amazing Trivium show.

Title track, What The Dead Men Say leads in from IX and kicks off with a wall of double bass drum then punches into a headbanging intro riff and into one of their most chantable choruses. Throughout the song, Trivium has wonderfully incorporated riffs from IX in the bridge and after the breakdown. As title tracks go, What The Dead Men Say kicks off the album in all the right ways and leaves you eager to hear what the rest of the album sounds like!

Catastrophist is the third song of ‘What The Dead Men Say’ and was the first single released off the record. Right off the bat, we are treated to a headbanging riff that starts with a tasteful drum fill. The clean melodic verse swells into a distorted guitar-fueled bridge and chorus with the chant “You’re a catastrophe”. The solos are fast, melodic and heavy followed by emotional growls incorporated into a heavy breakdown and ending of the song.

“I looked up what the word ‘Catastrophist’ means, and it’s one geological view of how the world has been shaped by very catastrophic and immediate changes,” says Paolo. “You can apply the same narrative to the C.E.O. of an oil company making decisions for profit, but ruining wildlife. You know it’s going to be a disaster, but you do it anyway.”

Amongst The Shadows And The Stones right from the get-go holds no punches. Instead, a wall of distorted thrashy guitars and harsh guttural vocals welcome us into this amazing track. We are treated to melodic clean verses that follow the rhythm guitar beautifully and then distorted vocals during choruses. The breakdown is hard-hitting and at a slower tempo than the rest of the song, which is just calling for a chant to be had during it. Amongst The Shadows And The Stones will definitely be a banger of a tune played live!

The fifth song Bleed Into Me is a heavily bass-driven song with a dirty bassline to kick it off before the wonderful clean vocals come in. The tempo and the melodies of this song hint that it’s almost a ballad. The verses slowly build into a chorus that deserves to be chanted by the whole crowd with their lighters in the air. It’s a powerful song that breaks up the intensity and shows the versatility that Trivium can bring to the table. The Defiant is in the style that we love Trivium for. We get treated to Matt’s clean vocals and also his more powerful screaming roars and how he seamlessly changes between them. The song starts to move towards a classic power metal style, but still with Matt’s powerful vocals over the top. Right before a soothing solo, we get to hear an amazing guitar harmony that is literally music to your ears. 

Scattering The Ashes is definitely the heavy ballad of the album. “I took a trip with my family to spread the ashes of my grandparents,” Corey remembers. “It was really emotional. When I got back, I jotted the title down and started working on the song. The rest of the guys took it to the next level.”

The song is heavy and melodic; you can hear the emotion in how it’s played and how it was written. Upon listening to the lyrics you come to understand and sympathise with what Corey went through. “What the distance couldn’t mend, and time ran out instead” is a powerful example of this. This song moves me a lot because it really resonates with personal circumstances and I’m sure it will move others as well. 

‘What The Dead Men Say’ is a brilliantly heavy album and a powerhouse of a record that has been graced to us by an inspirational and highly talented band. It’s filled with expert musicianship and takes us on a non-stop journey from the start all the way to the very end. From crushing riffs crafted by Matt and Corey with their emotionally-powerful lyrics to blasting drum beats from Alex, catchy, heavy basslines from Paolo, Trivium has crafted their signature style more and more after every album and fine-tuned their craft. I’m keen to see what and where Trivium takes us next!

The reason I love metal is it goes against the grain. The best way to overcome darkness is to make something creative. Whether the impact is small or large, I hope it’s positive for listeners. We hopefully built a community to make them feel safe where they can talk about what they want, enjoy it, and get help if they need it. It’s possible to even find a lot of love and light in there.” – Matt Heafy

‘What The Dead Men Say’ is out on the 24th of April and can be purchased and pre-saved here

Connect with Trivium here:

Trivium – Facebook | Instagram | Website

  Matt –       Instagram | Twitch

Corey –   Instagram

Paolo –   Instagram

Alex –     Instagram | Twitch

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