I’ve said it before and will say it many, many more times- Matt Heafy has one of the best voices in all of metal. He has a tremendous range and tone in his clean vocals and his scream, which largely disappeared from the repertoire for a few albums, is as intense as they come. The band’s last album, The Sin and the Sentence, was one of their heaviest works pushing that chilling scream back into the picture and an all-around heavier vibe. What the Dead Men Say promises to be even heavier for a band that prides itself on always evolving and improving. Bassist Paolo Gregoletto (excellent bassist, better Twitter follow) wrote a large part of this album, which is exciting for both a fresh perspective as well as seeing an awesome bass player shine.
“IX” is a strong instrumental introduction that showcases the band’s penchant for melodic guitar riffs. The two minute track builds upon a slow melodic riff into a feverish roar serving for a great standalone intro for the title track. “What Dead Men Say” is a great representation of everything I love about Trivium. Fast-paced and heavy, pushing forward with double bass and technical guitar riffs and a signature arena-style chorus that is over-the-top and grabs your attention. For as heavy as this band is, there is a massive singalong appeal. The breakdown is unique, deconstructing into a simple drum-and-vocals-only stanza in a different tempo and reintroducing a simple guitar riff before building back up into a solo that blew me away.
This leads into one of my favorite tracks on the album, “Catastrophist.” It’s rare that the lead single gets the nod as one of my top tracks on an album, but this one is as worthy as they get. There are a lot of thrash elements that push this song forward, at times giving an Avenged Sevenfold/Stone Sour vibe with the double time beat that picks up part way through the verse and the progressive, echoing guitar lines. Another larger-than-life, quotable chorus highlights this track. “Amongst the Shadows & the Stones” is one of the heaviest tracks on the album. The song is intense from the onset; fast and furious with a powerful drive on the drums and a heavy bass riff that lends to the heavy vocals to make this track one of the most memorable on the record.
“Bleed Into Me” starts off with a nasty growling bass line that instantly became one of the highlights of the album from my first listen. Heafy’s vocals quickly shine with a more aggressive style that fits perfectly with the engaging chorus. “The Defiant” is another stylistic change, bringing back the fast-pace thrash and dueling guitars and showcases Heafy’s range as well as any other on the album. As amazing as Heafy sounds, I think my favorite part of this track, and the band in general, is that they don’t rely on it for a killer song. The lead up to the chorus peels off the vocals to allow the guitar riffs to shine. At different points in the track every member of the band has the opportunity to show off their skills, lending to how much raw musical talent this band has both individually and holistically.
Before I heard the beginning of “Sickness Unto You,” I knew it was going to be a transition. The song starts off at a slow pace before picking up into a blistering drum and double bass-driven track that grinds forward. The song itself is intense as a standalone track, but the mastery of album psychology that Trivium has is on full display here. In an age where many bands are focused on the single and a smaller release, I felt myself ready for a slow down right at the moment the band gave me one and then they got right back to it in masterful fashion. “Scattering the Ashes” showcases one of the most melodic and majestic riffs on the album and is an emotional song about loss. The mood seems to alternate from hopeful to reflective, forcing you to feel the mourning process.
“Bending the Arc to Fear” builds the album back up to the end. The intro is powerful and the riff sees the guitar hang on to a few notes just a second too long before pushing the listener to the edge of their seat. The technical genius each member of the band holds is on full display. It’s songs like this that have so many layers, key changes, time changes… I have no idea how they play this stuff live at all, let alone with the ease they possess.
The final song of the effort, “The Ones We Leave Behind” ties together themes from the band’s discography. It is melodic and intense at the same time. From the onset, the double bass drives the song forward and the guitars are in a continual state of riff. The chorus is destined to be remembered and has the star power to fill an arena. This is an excellent track to close a Trivium live show and a great choice to conclude the album.
Trivium continues to deliver with each album they put out. What the Dead Men Say is one of the most technical and musically sound pieces of work I have heard in years. Every member of the band hits on all cylinders and the album psychology is second to none. This is best consumed from start to finish, not as selection of incredible tracks, though they do stand alone quite nicely as well. Make sure you check out What the Dead Men Say, available on all platforms now via RoadRunner Records!