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Has going halfway back to the old sound ever worked for any band, ever? Add Trivium to the list of well-known groups that tried rearranging a formula that wasn't exactly broken, and then found out far too late that the joke was on them and tried to retroactively save face. This joke is of course The Crusade, and while even that album boasted a few winners like "Ignition," "Detonation," and "Tread the Floods," I can't necessarily say the same regarding Shogun. While there is certainly a higher level of maturity oozing throughout the lyrical concepts and overall vision on this one, it just reeks of the band trying too hard to reattach their recently-shed old skin. Imagine the pretentious title track from The Crusade stretched to fill nearly an entire album (and oh boy is this one a protracted slog), and you don't need me to tell you that Shogun is quite the experience to sit through.
What perhaps frustrates me even more regarding albums like this is that they often come off as consummate returns to form on first blush. Somehow this frequently spawns a contingent of unwavering fans who feel the need to defend the album with relentless vigor. So to set the record straight, don't let anybody tell you this is a quality throwback to the band's first two efforts. Through the catch-all paradigm Trivium feels the need to employ here, Shogun embodies the time-worn adage of: "jack of all trades, master of none." Heafy's harsh vocals have returned, but are only used sparingly and were never really that great to begin with. The riffs, while mercifully closer to Ascendancy in basic execution, can't even come close to The Crusade's better moments. Sometimes you can explicitly hear Trivium trying to rip their older material off, like on "Of Prometheus and the Crucifix," which wants to be "Drowned and Torn Asunder" but can't even connect the dots and ends up overshooting it's goal by a wide margin.
The entire ordeal just drips ostentation, as the opener "Kirisute Gomen" neatly lays out for easy analysis. The darker atmosphere is a nice change of pace, as is that grumbling bruiser of a riff bubbling under the verses, but does this need to be nearly seven minutes long? Ascendancy atypically ended with two of it's longer numbers in both "Departure" and "Declaration," but they each featured decent payoffs thanks to either the clean vocals, busy song structures, or both. Toss "Torn Between Scylla and Charybdis" into the same boat as the opener, as both are complete wastes of time and a piss-poor way for Shogun to begin. Nearly all of the rest falls prey to the same pitfalls as The Crusade, only with fewer highlights and less thought put into the riffs. Occasionally we get a melodic lick that reminds us of days long gone, but what else can one do but dwell on the past when Trivium is currently banging out such swill?
The interesting thing is, somehow this abortion of an album accidentally results in one of the best songs Trivium has ever written. "Into the Mouth of Hell We March" may seem rather by-the-numbers at first, but the chorus shines like a supernova and absolutely screams of Ascendancy to my ears. The way the clean vocal section segues into the melodic lick immediately afterward, that is what I'm talking about. It is no accident that one of the catchier tracks ends up being the sole highlight, as the dour atmosphere that the band feels the need to blanket the rest of Shogun with in an attempt at being seen as mature certainly does them no favors. The title track is almost as bad as it's counterpart from The Crusade, and other than picking up for a few moments immediately after the pointless slow section, it collapses in on itself in short order and adds nearly twelve minutes of surplus bulk with nothing of value gained.
The final nail in the coffin comes in the form of some scant Eastern-tinged melodies that pop up here or there, trying to sell the subject matter to the easily deceived. We get it, Heafy. You were born in Japan, but you are about as Japanese as a cosplay convention in a West Virginia shopping mall. A good example is "Down from the Sky," which intrigues mightily with that opening riff, but then discards it like a used wrapper once it has served it's purpose and burns another nearly six minutes doing absolutely nothing of note. If my arm was twisted in an effort to get me to point out improvements over The Crusade, I suppose that the solos on this one are more tolerable. Not even close to the first two records, but certainly an avenue worth continuing down on Trivium's part. Shogun is a huge waste of what seems to be a sizable amount of effort on the band's part. What the hell happened? Is this real life? Well, Trivium still sucks eggs, so I suppose it is.
I should start by saying that although I'm a huge Trivium fan, I suffer no delusions when it comes to the quality of their albums. So before I continue with this review, I'll reel off the negatives, such as they are. It would have been nice to have to have had lyrics in the booklet, especially for the killer Down From The Sky or the epic Shogun. Paolo's bass is virtually non-existent. Some of the tracks took me a lot - and I mean a LOT - of listens to fully appreciate, which may or may not be a bad thing. Finally, at times the riffs do seem somewhat borrowed/ repeated from other songs.
This being said, I am in no way negative about this album - far from it, I consider this to be Trivium's finest release to date. The biggest issue the album faces is not the quality of songs, it's Trivium's general controversy. Since their meteoric rise after Ascendancy, the band has polarized metal fans and left half singing their praises and half cursing their existence. Because of this, reviews tend to ignore the middle-ground and take the extremes. However, I believe that in this instance, an extremely positive score is warranted.
What strikes me most is that each song has been crafted with purpose, not cobbled together in jamming sessions. Whether it's the Japanese percussion at the start of Kirisute Gomen, the soaring choruses of Throes of Perdition or the simple-yet-powerful riffs of Down From The Sky, every track blazes with a different hue. That's not to say everyone will like every song, but equally I think there's so much on offer in terms of variety that it would be hard not to be impressed simply by the creativity displayed by the quartet.
Heafy's lyric-writing has once again run rings around contemporary metalcore bands - drawing on both Japanese and Ancient Greek mythology, as well references to the atomic bomb, the standard has clearly improved from the radio-friendly news-citing of The Crusade without slipping into the verbosity of Ascendancy. This being said, Heafy's vocabulary still shines through, marking the lyrics with his usual flair. This would be nothing, however, if the actual vocals were sub-par. Thankfully, this is not the case - the screams are back from their hiatus, and much more practiced than on Ascendancy. The clean vocals are equally magnificent; work has gone into making the more melodic sections sound less forced than on The Crusade, whilst simultaneously allowing for more biting tones if necessary. Possibly the best addition has to be the death-grunts and deeper growling, present more poignantly on Down From The Sky and two of the bonus tracks. These lend the darker riffs the killer edge they need, and ensure that those listening will be worked up into a frenzy.
In terms of the fretwork, Trivium have really matured. While Ascendancy has been applauded for it's uncompromising riffs and The Crusade was noted for its technicality-for-the-sake-of-technicality writing, Shogun delivers a far more balanced array of the heavy-hitting and the melodic. Solos are perfectly executed, harmonies are excellently orchestrated, and the whole album effortlessly shifts from soul-rendingly beautiful to chair-throwingly aggressive. The tremolo-picked intro to Torn Between Scylla and Charybdis belies the 7-string hammer-blow that follows, whilst Down From The Sky (as has been noted) is effective in its stripped-back simplicity. The title-track is the coup de grace, sending the album off with a little bit of everything - clean, heavy, melodic, epic, and what many consider to be perfect. This is the song that sums Trivium up; it may well be their magnum opus.
A special note must be made for the bonus tracks on the Special Edition as well; the two originals, Upon the Shores and Poison, The Knife Or The Noose are among the finest tracks on the listing (begging the question why they were not included on the standard album), unleashing 7-string fury and riffs that feel as brutal as they do melodic, somehow bridging the gap deemed insurmountable by many; likewise, the cover of Iron Maiden's 'Iron Maiden' is fantastic, though perhaps not quite as polished as the Master of Puppets cover from the Ascendancy SE.
But the most important feature of this album is one too many people ignore, caught up as they are in the metalcore/thrash debate or the 'why are these guys popular?' controversy that plague the Orlando quartet. That's the passion. Metal isn't about having the highest production values or the most complicated solos. It isn't about writing songs that will win over everyone, and it certainly isn't about slagging people off for liking something or slagging them off if they don't. It's about the brotherhood, the unity of the pit, the throb of the beat, the skin-tearing essence of what you're listening to. This album is one that can show you that, and so much more. The lyrics and hooks on Throes of Perdition can make the heart sing; the breakdown of He Who Spawned The Furies causes even this normally zen metalhead to desire carnage and violence; the mastery of the title-track causes a feeling of awe few songs can hope to match as it swoops and cascades, judders and cuts it's way through 11 minutes of exemplary musicianship.
This is a band whose potential has only just been tapped into. If the critics will focus less on the band and the comparisons other people have made to thrash titans Metallica, and look harder at what this group has achieved in a relatively short amount of time, they'll find a wealth of creativity, a veritable ocean of talent and an unflinching attitude to criticism masking the future of metalcore - and of heavy metal as a whole.
This is an example of what ignoring what's popular, and making what you want to make instead, can create; an album that astounds and engages from start to end. An essential purchase
Let's get the negative out first. My only disappointment was that the booklet had no lyrics. But the art is amazing and some mysterious girl on the cartridge.
This album is the definitive album from Trivium. It's almost to mature for their sake! Aside from The Crusade hinting at the usage of 7-strings ("This World can't Tear us Apart" & "The Crusade"); this a solid release from the band itself. This album, though the cover may be deceiving, is not at all Japanese themed. Except for the first and last tracks, being "Kirisute Gomen" and "Shogun." The rest is obviously Greek mythology spilled all over the Japanese slate.
The production in here is amazingly crisp and thick. The bass in track two is so loud and chunky! Paolo definitely gets a lot more attention in this album than the previous three records. The guitars have a flesh grinding tone that kicks you right out of your seat. With another string in play, things can get a little rough. With the seventh string being very active in this album, it's not over done at all. They keep the same "Trivium" formula without completely losing touch of the sound. The vocals, unlike The Crusade or Ember to Inferno, aren't tracked... as much as they should be. Tracks like "Callisto" or "Prometheus" have an appropriate amount of tracks. The only problem, when you'd see them live, some things couldn't be pulled off... such as vocals (but aren't too important).
NOW THE BIGGEST PROBLEM IN THIS ALBUM......................
Unfortunately, Travis Smith doesn't give listeners a big slap in the face with his drumming. It sounded more like Igor Cavalera took a chill pill. But then again, his footwork makes me shut up (Tracks: Insurrection. Scylla and Charybdis). His drumming from Ascendancy "died out" and couldn't make the ropes to Shogun. But he still makes a good groove (Throes of Perdition, Spawned Furies).
In a nutshell, this album isn't Trivium giving it's full punch, but it's a big original-full-on-metal masterpiece that should be preserved! I mean this is one hour of blood and whoop-ass! I fully recommend this album to any metalhead
Before delving into my review of Trivium’s latest release, Shogun, a couple of things should be made clear. Firstly, unlike the vast majority of users on this site, I do not abhor Trivium. I find their music quite enjoyable, I’ve seen them live and had a great time, I appreciate the talent of all four band members and I own all their releases. I – brace yourselves – consider myself a fan of the band. That’s not to say I’m oblivious to their shortcomings and failings, however. The pseudo-thrash shitfest that was 2006’s The Crusade sickened me, I hate the band’s cocky attitude and metaller-than-thou image, and I fully acknowledge the fact that originality and creativity are not Trivium’s strong points. This balanced attitude of neither all-encompassing love nor hatred for Trivium enabled me to listen, and subsequently review, this album with an entirely open mind. I am neither hell-bent on demonizing the band as posers, nor am I bigging them up to be a revolutionary metal band whose critics are simply jealous of the quartet’s prodigious talent.
Secondly, this album can only be realistically enjoyed when the listener is prepared to hear this album for what it is – a metalcore release. Bizarrely, Trivium have been promoted and marketed as a thrash metal band ever since the release of second album Ascendancy took them to the forefront of the mainstream metal scene in 2005. With the band’s sound neither matching up to their thrashy declarations nor justifying tours with acts such as Metallica, Annihilator and Slayer, much of the metal scene, perhaps understandably, refused to give Trivium a chance and slated the band’s alleged ignorance and pretensions. It’s a shame, really, as had Trivium stuck to their metalcore-ish image, forgone inane and contradictory declarations such as ‘Fuck metalcore, we’re for real!’ and declined the opportunity to wank over Dimebag Darrell’s signature guitars, they arguably would be much more respected than they currently are; as, as Shogun proves, they are more than capable of putting out a thoroughly enjoyable and solid metalcore album.
As soon as opener 'Kirisute Gomen' kicks in, one can tell that Shogun is Trivium’s best effort to date. All four members are on top of their game here, and sounding truly bombastic thanks to Nick Raskulinecz’s organic-sounding production. Apparently the band overlooked Pro-Tools and a ‘cut and paste’ style of production in favour of a more traditional play-till-you-get-it-right approach on this album, and their hard work certainly paid off. I don’t think I’ve ever heard such a live-sounding studio album - apart from maybe other works Nick R produced. Every vocal line, beat, and note on this album sounds energetic and authentic, a welcome change in comparison to the monotonous, sterile sounding production so common in today’s metal releases.
As the opening song continues, and as we are treated to a wide range of vocal styles, impressive soloing, heavy rhythm riffs, melodic leads and historical/mythological lyrics, it is abundantly clear that Shogun is a marked improvement on The Crusade, and a natural step in Trivium’s evolution from Ascendancy and Ember to Inferno. The elements that make 'Kirisute Gomen' such an appealing opener continue on the remainder of songs on Shogun, with a perfect balance between melody and heaviness, great guitarwork and some almost NWOHBM-type choruses present throughout. Gone are the days of every song being comprised of octave chords and lite- At the Gates-type riffs(Ascendancy) and entire sequences of music being plagiarised from the back catalogues of other bands (The Crusade). Nor are the riffs and solos here difficult and technical for the sake of being difficult and technical. Corey Beaulieu and Matt Heafy received unadulterated praise for their fretboard skills in the aftermath of Ascendancy, and, as a result –IMO at least – became so absorbed with impressing guitar players on The Crusade that the songwriting on that album greatly suffered. This is not the case on Shogun, however, with the band getting their priorities right, focusing on writing good songs regardless of how difficult or easy the guitar tabs are going to look. 'Down From The Sky' provides a perfect example of Trivium’s increasingly mature attitude to writing songs, with an incredibly basic (but incredibly effective) intro riff repeating endlessly before an aggressive (but equally stripped down) verse and bridge emerge, forming the basis of one of the best songs on the album while still being the most simple. That’s not to say that guitarists will be disappointed with this release, as there are plenty of shred-tastic and technical moments (see the title track’s final solo and the tight-as-fuck intro to 'Torn Between Scylla and Charybdis' for proof), however the technical moments are there to add to the songs, as opposed to just being there for the sake of being there.
On the subject of solos, Beaulieu and Heafy’s shredding efforts on this record also represent a dramatic increase in musical awareness and maturity, with almost all the solos on Shogun perfectly fitting the songs on which they are present. 'Down from the Sky', an ominous, dark song with a quirky rhythm riff exhibits an ominous, dark, quirky solo which mimics the rhythmic pattern it is played over, yet still deviates at times to provide some contrast. Similarly, the solos on the almost progressive-sounding 'He Who Spawned the Furies' are in perfect harmony with the rhythm backing track and the tempo changes present throughout the song.
Matt Heafy has surely silenced many detractors with his vocal and lyrical output on this album, both of which supercede his previous efforts. The abstract, intangible lyrics of Ember to Inferno,the angst-ridden rants of Ascendancy and the cringeworthy poltically-correct lyrics to The Crusade have been replaced by well-told depictions of Greek and Japanese mythology, war, rebellion, and the apocalypse. The aforementioned three-way (Trivium ;)) style of vocals have been honed and practised to perfection, with the core screams harsher, the melodic singing less adolescent-sounding and the in-between type vocals more discernable and deeper than previously.
All of these thrilling components culminate in the title track, easily Trivium’s best song thus far. Lasting eleven minutes long, 'Shogun', the song is, like many professional reviews have stated already, an example of everything that is great about Trivium. Heavy, melodic, clean, distorted, technical, simple, gentle, aggressive, quiet and loud, this is the song that could transform Trivium from being metal’s laughing stock to a genuinely lauded and respected bunch of musicians. Shogun as an album would have been impressive enough had the title track never been created, but it is a fitting end to hugely enjoyable and worthy album. Note to fanboys : Forget 'Departure' and 'Pull Harder', THIS is the song to use if you feel compelled to try convert people to Trivium!
However, very few albums are perfect, and Shogun is no exception. There are a few flaws here that prevent this album from being one of the great releases of 2008, the main one being that a lot of the songs sound very similar. 'Torn Between Scylla and Charybdis', 'Throes of Perdition' and 'The Calamity' all have very similar legato-onto-open-string intros that all mush into one another after a few listens. Similarily, 'Kirisute Gomen', 'Into the Mouth of Hell We March' and 'Like Callisto to a Star in Heaven' have a similar tonality, pitch and feel to their intros. Furthermore, while having three vocal styles throughout the album is hugely beneficial to keeping it fresh, having an almost perfect and equal ratio of growled:screamed:sung vocals on every single song is a bit irritating. There are some songs here (perhaps 'Kirisute Gomen' and 'He Who Spawned the Furies') that could have done without sweetly sung harmonies, as they are naturally agressive songs which could have benefited from more screamed vocals. By the same token, 'Of Prometheus and the Crucifix' is a melodic and classic-metal influenced song which is completely ruined by screaming. While I stand by the fact that the band’s songwriting has matured, it does seem that they were determined to incorporate every vocal style into all the songs on this record, without taking into account of what type of vocal suited which song. I’m sure I’m not the only person who would have greatly enjoyed an entirely screamed song or an entirely sung song, or whatever. My final nitpick with this album is that the second riff of the opening song and the bridge of 'Insurrection' sound akin to parts of 'Symbolic' by Death and 'One by One' by Immortal, respectively. However, I know that riff ‘borrowing’ is not limited to Trivium, and with so many metal-influenced bands out there now, it’s somewhat inevitable.
To conclude, this is a great metalcore release, and definitely Trivium’s best album so far. All the tracks are excellent, however my personal favourites include 'The Calamity' for its excellent vocal lines, 'He Who Spawned the Furies' for the versatility within the song and the title track for representing everything that is good about Trivium. Shogun is not without its faults and will surely be marketed as a br00tal thrash album, bringing more scorn upon the band, when the listeners realise this isn't exactly Sodom-meets-Overkill stuff. However, if the listener wants metalcore (dare I say progressive metalcore?) with plenty of influences from other metal genres, you can’t go wrong with this. It’s not a Bonded by Blood or a Ride the Lightning, but it is up there with Fortress (Protest the Hero) and Threads of Life (Shadows Fall) as a top-notch metalcore album.
Trivium is one of those bands that many people hate. Personally, I do not! Their first two albums were not so good though, because of their ugly metalcore sound. However, on the third record, they became one hell of a thrash band, and like many others have said, they combined their styles on this album.
The songs are pretty different from one another. We've got the thrasy one like: Kirisute Gomen, Insurrection and Like Calisto To A Star In Heaven. On the other hand we have the more melodic ones such as: Throes Of Pedrition, Down From The Sky, (parts of) Shogun and The Calamity. The thing about this album is that it is variated, and that's a good thing if you ask me!
Many metalcore bands such as Avenged Sevenfold and Atreyu have a lot of really gay vocal lines. Trivium had it, on their first two CD's. But when Matt Heafy started taking vocal lessons, he immediately got rid of his gay side. Although you may hear some signs of it yet, most of the gay vocals are gone. He shows good vocal techniques here, even though I can't say the same about his live performance. But I'm not reviewing any live album now, (because they never released one! HAHA!!)
The guitars have always been a special thing about Trivium, as Matt and Corey shows their variated play on this album. They are still keeping the guitars tuned in E, which is a good thing. I absolutely DON'T like it when a thrash band decides to tune down their guitars, and for no reason too! Just look at bands like Kreator, Sodom and Destruction. Why the fuck do they need to tune down their guitars? Anyway, Trivium keeps the thing in E, although they don't always play in E. The title track is played in C all along the way, but it's got some devastating riffs to back it up. The song I like the least on this album is Throes Of Pedrition, due to it's chunky groove metal riff. I don't know what they were thinking while making this song, but at least most of the other songs are good.
Travis is an exeptionally good drummer, who has always used a lot of different techniques. To say it like this, he kicks Lars Ulrich's sorry ass right down to the floor! Travis sees to that every song is played with real variation and technique of course. He is actually one of my drum idols!
So if you are wondering if you should get this album, then I have a couple of things to say to you all.
If you like thrash metal, then you will like some of the songs on this record. I am a little more open minded than some of you may be, so I like the other songs as well. So for Anti-Open minded thrash fans, just download this from the internet.
If you like Trivium, then of course you must buy this!! You have NO godamn choice!
I’ve wanted to review something from Trivium for a long time now, but never got around to. I’ve heard a few songs from them that were average, nothing really caught my attention. Anyways, so I’ve finally gotten to these guys, and might as well review their newest album Shogun. But after listening to it, I just ask myself question. The main question I constantly ask myself over and over again is simply why are they so popular?
Trivium is a simple band to understand, they’re one part metalcore, one part thrash, and all together one giant gimmick. Trivium doesn’t do anything creative; they just steal other (bad) ideas for their own. Pretty much the metalcore influences can be traced to Shadows Fall, and the thrash influences are mostly 80’s rip-offs. Other than the influence, there are a lot of other reasons as to why this annoys me.
The main reason as to why this album annoys the hell out of me is strictly Matt Heafy. His vocals are so annoying I can’t tolerate this guy, or any metalcore vocalist for that matter. He’s your typical metalcore vocalist, every verse has you basic hardcore screaming, every chorus has the somewhat whiny clean vocals to show just how good of a singer he is. Then you got the back up singers to help project his weak voice. But seriously, how many metalcore bands are out there? How about on this site? There has got to be over 1,000 on Metal Archives alone right? Basically every metalcore vocalist sings just like this guy. Sure maybe they’ll have an accent to sound different but they all sing the same in the end, nothing but hardcore screams and whiny clean choruses.
Trivium is a band about copying other band ideas and pasting them as their own. A lot of people bash these guys for trying to be the next Metallica, and I can see why. Not so much with Shogun because this album is mostly modern United States melodeath, which is basically metalcore nowadays. But looking at their older material (Ember of Inferno) it is chopped full of half-assed Hetfield impressions and some Metallica riffs ranging from Master of Puppets to the Metallica S/T.
If you look at everything else in the album, like the production, it’s very basic. Production is pretty clean; it focuses on the vocals, while the bass is inaudible. The drums got that somewhat wet sound to them like Linkin Park does. Even the actual structure of each song is basic; it’s just verse chorus verse chorus stuff really.
Personally I’m glad that they stuck with the melodic/thrash influences instead of going for a groove approach with the metalcore influences. The last thing we need from Trivium would be slower groove passages to reflect Lamb of God. But at the same time when you sound like Shadows Fall trying to imitate Metallica that’s also annoying as hell.
So here I am at a dead-end trying to figure out what score I should give Shogun. Nothing about it is original. It’s mostly rip-offs of Metallica, and Shadows Fall styled metalcore. The album isn’t as bad as The Crusade. I would much rather listen to this than any other metalcore band out there, even if it is just for the Metallica rip-offs. The album itself is average when you look at metal in the media or metalcore for that matter (they all kind of sound alike you know). So I’ll grade it on that, if this was actual thrash/melodic/whatever album it would fail greatly. Simply put, Shogun is just another metalcore album from a band that copies other ideas to make mediocre easy listening metal for listeners of the metalcore scene. Now that I think about it, I finally figured out why these guys are so popular…
Once again, we find everyone’s favorite whipping boys in the middle of another identity crisis. Fortunately, this one is nowhere near as shocking as the jump between "Ascendancy" and "The Crusade"...
On this album, we are treated to a sound that could be best described as a cross between the two previously mentioned albums. The screaming vocals and harsh/soft contrasts that made up the bulk of "Ascendancy" have been brought back while the muddy production and melodic vocals/guitar riffs found on "The Crusade" remain intact. The album itself is also made distinct by means of more technical instrumental and some of the most pretentious lyrics that guitarist/vocalist Matt Heafy has written to date.
Like "Ascendancy" before it, most of the songs seem to have pretty similar structures. They typically make up of aggressive introductions and screamed verses, cleanly sung choruses, and heavy breakdowns that typically lead to more technical solos. Of course, there are a few exceptions with songs that reverse the formula with clean verses and screamed choruses.
Thankfully, there are a few exceptions to this rule. The opener "Kirisute Gomen" packs in a powerfully building introduction, fast paced verses and pre-choruses, and a fairly uplifting chorus. "Insurrection," "The Calamity," and "Of Prometheus and the Crucifix" sound like they could’ve been taken from "The Crusade" with consistently melodic vocals and thrashy guitar playing. I must say that I was also rather surprised by the album’s title track. I was expecting it to be an epic fail when taking the twelve minute song length into consideration, but it manages to stay interesting all the way through. The verses feature some sludgy guitar work and solid vocal contrasts, the chorus is the expected sing-a-long like the ones before it, and the song’s climax features what may be Heafy’s most powerful vocal performance to date. Maybe people would like him more if he sang like this more often...
Just as the band’s musical aesthetics have been reworked, the lyric ideas have also been changed for this effort. While there are a few songs that focus on the personal/political themes of the band’s past ("Throes of Perdition," "Down From the Sky," etc), most of the songs take on a more epic atmosphere with themes based upon Japanese shoguns ("Kirisute Gomen," the title track) and Greek mythology ("Torn Between Scylla and Charybdis," "He Who Spawned the Furies," "Of Prometheus and the Crucifix," "Like Callisto to a Star in Heaven"). Given my extensive study of Greek mythology, I found the lattermost theme to be quite intriguing. Of course, it’s also the easiest theme to screw up and the song titles and phrases do get rather awkward on occasion. I’m pretty sure "Like Callisto to a Star in Heaven" is the most ridiculous song title that the band has ever come up with...
It may not have as many hits as the previous albums, but this may be the band’s most consistent effort to date.
1) Catchy songwriting and a few surprises thrown in the mix
2) Interesting lyrical themes
3) The band remains technical and talented
1) Awkward song titles and occasionally pretentious lyrical phrases
2) Heafy’s vocals are still an extremely acquired taste
3) For the most part, the song structures are similar to one another
My Current Favorites:
"Kirisute Gomen," "Throes of Perdition," "Insurrection," "He Who Spawned the Furies," and "Shogun"
"Really? What'd he say?" "I don't know, he was going on about how the fans aren't all that smart and maybe following your own path is wiser or something, then he hung up fast. I don't know, let's just finish this already."
A while back, I had considered Trivium to be one of my favorite bands. Their breakthrough release, Ascendancy, was the type of album to leave me completely floored for a year straight, and their highly underrated follow-up, The Crusade, repeated the flooring process with much more force and a longer duration than before. While Ascendancy was a great communion with metalcore and thrash metal, The Crusade was something of a half-complete departure from their -core roots, what with its straightforward movement and near lack of overly melodic vocals/melodies. Hell, the breakdowns on The Crusade actually seemed like opportune tempo changes and not just jerky stumbling in the writing process. At first, I had come to dislike this change in music. After all, everything I had loved about the previous release had been discarded in favor of a more edgy style closer to older thrash bands. But as time wore on, and the CD gained more revolutions, it dawned on me that the near abandonment of the metalcore influence was a smart decision in the long run, as it provided more solid and heartfelt music for personal enjoyment. Sure, the song formats were almost all the same, and the lyrics had suffered a huge blow (Not as verbosely overblown as in Ascendancy, but there are more creative ways to describe atrocities and the end of mankind.), but the overall tight feeling exceptional skill displayed in the music and compositions provided a more satisfying experience that can still be felt years afterwards, something I can't feel anymore for Ascendancy. All in all, it felt like The Crusade is what Trivium truly wished to create.
Then Shogun was released.
And I personally believe that Trivium should have just stuck to 80's thrash worship. Granted, everyone is entitled to flaunt their own unique qualities, but sometimes, you must question whether said qualities are actually better than certain others. I had read that their move to reinstate metalcore into their writing process was a conscious one, that the band themselves had decided to use this once more, but I personally believe it was fan-based pressure that swayed their decision into metalcore territory. Why make such an assumption? Do you realize that the number in favor of Ascendancy is higher than for the Crusade, and that those with the former view the latter as a half-hearted failed attempt at a thrash revival? I'm not stating this to sway your own opinion regarding the releases, I'm just stating a few observations I've made along this musical progression.
But I digress. Shogun was released and eventually purchased.
Beginning with the acoustic melody you will hear later in the title track, Kirisute Gomen soon hits you hard with intense tribal percussion, soon followed by a rather 'corey' guitar melody that, strangely enough, work to set the mood for the rest of the song, as it's both intense and mystifying simultaneously. Then Matt kicks in with his thrash-like vocals to round out the melodies, and after a few lines, his screams come into play to add to the change in riffs with satisfactory results -- the song flows through its motions quite nicely, and the notion that a half-thrash, half-metalcore band such as Trivium may actually know what they're doing enters the mind.
Then the chorus hits. And you're treated to an incredibly silly and weak breakdown that'll prevent the chance that anyone wanted to give them from reaching them. The bridge is not much better -- at least Corey and Matt's solos are amusing -- and after the brief return to their successful musical mixture, they jump right back into the idiotic chorus and end with it.
I make a special mention of this song because this is how the rest of the album feels. You're going to experience moments of musical greatness mixed in very badly with moments of musical gaucheness. Some of the better tracks would include the following track as it feels like each musician is attempting to insert his own creative input into the song and the change in time is actually welcome as it doesn't sound like a 'corey' breakdown; Like Callisto to a Star in Heaven sans chorus because the more evident thrash approach to the crunch is welcoming (and, to be honest, I like the overly melodic chorus myself); The Calamity if you don't mind just how good metalcore can be; and several other select parts. As it stands, Of Prometheus and the Crucifix is what is probably the best track on here as it is the most consistent -- the entire song rushes by in a melodic whirlwind of 'corey' riffs and lackluster imagery that at least sounds like a completely finished product, as opposed to the huge amount of hastily assembled ideas that are all over the album; this finished feeling suddenly raised my interest and, eventually, liking towards the song in spite of its metalcore influence.
The reason I can hardly name other high areas on Shogun, however, is that, in their attempt to make a concession to their older style, they have made a quite forgettable album as a consequence. I don't mean that it's complete tripe -- it's that, after many, many listens, there aren't too many parts that can be recalled easily. It's as if the album still needed a certain 'polish' that prevents it from really 'shining.' Throes of Perdition has an exceptionally weak chorus which brings down the rest of the song (as do several other tracks), Down from the Sky is not interesting in the least, He Who Spawned the Furies contains practically no energy at all, and the title track is just awful, a pointless, excruciatingly slow trudging through a thick marsh of bland melodies and unnecessary ideas that do not mesh together in the least. Christ, I could have done without that track -- I am not opposed to slow tracks at all, but when you have an album like this, that revels in its hurricane riffs and unique mixtures (Admit it.), if you're going to attempt to pull a Candlemass on your listeners, then you'd best to do it right. Separately, the sections of this song may work -- both slower sections give off the aural aura of misused potential, as they do contain enjoyable pieces such as the chorus melodies of Matt's vocals, the slow guitar solo at 5:45, and the sudden transition into speed at 7:50 (Sue me -- I like my Trivium fast. Besides, it's probably one of the audibly appropriate parts of the song, this abrupt 'breakup', if you will.), but much of the rest fails to provide a worthwhile experience as the other title tracks have done.
(Fortunately, I had the insight to order the special edition of the CD, which comes with three extra tracks, and if you're going to order Shogun, I suggest you do the same, as the following songs are refreshing after the disappointment of the title track. While Poison, the Knife or the Noose is okay but forgettable enough, Upon the Shores is almost completely metalcore with the exception of the VERY low and pleasantly surprising growls during the pre-chorus and bridge, as they provide probably the only truly fresh element on this album, and as such, makes it one of my personal favorites on the album. The Iron Maiden cover is probably the heaviest thing you'll hear on this release, as it's a straight thrash cover of a great song and a MUCH better closer to the album. If you choose to purchase this version, add another fifteen percent to the score -- I do honestly believe that these three tracks alone do a great job of rounding out what is otherwise an underwhelming release.)
Why The Crusade received such mixed reviews and unfair comparisons to Metallica, I'll never know. (I personally cannot hear Metallica in Trivium, especially since Hetfield and co. released their own full-length earlier in the same month, and side-by-side comparison, or rather subsequent listening of one and the other, has yielded little in the way of results.) Their attempt at a more focused thrash outing with The Crusade seemed like a more suitable path for them to follow, as it seemed like the band had evolved far enough in their sound to ensure cohesion and security in their product. But with criticism comes possibly unconscious pressure (I'm assuming the fans weren't alone in their persecution.), and the sound had loosened up once again to provide a somewhat sloppy outing that does little to recapture the same spark that had been ignited with Ascendancy (and nearly gets redeemed by the extra three tracks, should you heed my advice.). While Shogun is not a terrible record, it does not meet the same caliber of its previous releases, and anyone still interested in purchasing this should approach with caution. Not so much caution as, say, Black Tide, but it would be wise to remember why it is that Trivium is regarded with contempt in certain circles.
Trivium started in 2000 as a metalcore band. They released 'Ember to Inferno' in 2003, which was a straight metalcore album all the way. After they got signed to Roadrunner Records, shortly after releasing 'Ember to Inferno', they released 'Ascendancy' in 2005. This album was a lot more thrash influenced, but still didn't completely abandon the metalcore influences and playing style. It was well received and could possibly be described as Trivium's most popular and well known album.
After tons of live shows and a lot of promotion by the label, they started working on 'The Crusade'. This album was released in 2007 and almost completely neglected any single metalcore influence that they had in the past. It was a thrash metal album, and was promoted as such by the label. Singer Matt Heafy decided that he would not scream live again, as it would be affecting his voice. This, off course, was a great disappointment to the fans, as the lead guitarist, Corey Beaulieu had taken the responsibility for the screaming. And he wasn't the best. In 2008 they began writing for their follow-up.
And then there was 'Shogun'. The most recent Trivium album combines some of the thrashiness of 'The Crusade' with the metalcore heard on 'Ascendancy'. At first I was skeptical, as I didn't quite like 'The Crusade'. Come to think of it, I think a lot of people didn't quite like 'The Crusade'. It was so unlike Trivium. It sounded way too thrashy for the band that we knew off 'Ascendancy'. But enough of the small talk, let's talk about 'Shogun'!
When I pressed play to hear the first track on the album ('Kirisute Gomen'), I expected to hear a gong, followed by taiko drums and some Japanese string instrument. I was proven wrong. What I got was an acoustic intro to one of the most amazing Trivium songs I've ever heard. The drums kicked in and I was amazed. Could it be...? Could it be that Trivium had gotten this much better?
And yes, my assumption was right. Trivium really has evolved into a perfect mix of metalcore and thrash influences. Well, that description is actually a little short, as one can hear some black metal (Heafy is really into black metal), even some straight metalcore at times. Heafy has adapted a varied and dynamic vocal style, ranging from the screams off 'Ascendancy' to the melodic screaming that was heard on parts of 'The Crusade'.
So, the guitars. They have changed a lot. Where they were first omnipresent and prominent, they are now well mixed in with the drums and even the bass. The harmonizing that is so typical for Trivium's sound is still there, but it sounds a lot more mature. Maybe it's because they have permanently switched to using 7 string guitars, which are tuned in B.
The riffs are varied, though alike in a way, which brings us to the first downside on this album. There are multiple songs which have the same high pitched intro, which makes them sound alike a lot. Then there are, on the other hand, certain songs that sound a lot alike in ways of pace and rhythm or pitching. How varied this album is, it's still repetitive in a way. Doesn't get on your nerves a lot though.
Then there are the drums. Oh yes, the drums. They are perfect on this album. Where on 'The Crusade' the kick sound was a little muffed away and the snare was very loud, the drums are perfectly harmonized now. There is no ingredient sounding louder than the rest of the drums. Drummer Travis Smith has progressed in his natural style of playing, which isn't a bad thing.
The album is definately the best Trivium effort to date. It's dark though modern, it's heavy though melodic, it's probably best described as Heafy metal, just to avoid everyone getting pissed off at you for not naming the genre right...
Trivium is a band that gets a lot of hate from a lot of metalheads, but do they deserve it? I really think that they don't and I'm not a fanboy at all. In fact, I don't really like Ember To Inferno and Ascendancy. I'm pretty sure that a lot of metalheads hate Trivium only because they used (yeah, they don't anymore) to play metalcore, because they aren't tr00 (that's what some people say) or for another reason that has nothing to do with the quality of their music. Actually, I used to think like that too, but one day I decided to stop being so close minded, I listened to The Crusade and I liked it a lot. I've seen a lot of ridiculously negative reviews for this album and honestly, I really don't understand them because Shogun is very far from bad! My guess is that some of them wanted to hate it.
A lot of people consider Shogun to be a mix of Ascendancy and The Crusade and they're right in a way. It's thrashy and "melodic" like The Crusade and it has the screaming of Ascendancy, but it's different overall. It's more melodic (The Crusade was more thrashy than melodic), more epic, more progressive, it doesn't sound as mainstream (By the way, Down From The Sky is the most mainstream sounding song on the album and it's the weakest one too) and it doesn't really sound like Metallica at all. I couldn't really give it a specific metal genre because it's quite unique (atleast to me) and it's a mix of a lot of things. Sometimes it's heavy, sometimes it's thrashy, sometimes it's progressive (ala Dream Theater), sometimes it's melodic (ala Iron Maiden), sometimes it's catchy and sometimes it's epic, but I can say that it's not metalcore. Some people say that it's metalcore, but they must've heard a different album or maybe they're simply Trivium haters because there's nothing metalcore about this album except the screaming, but it's not even THAT metalcore (it sometimes reminds of bands like Dark Tranquillity).
Anyway, the guitar playing on this album is very good! Matt and Corey are GREAT guitarists, hell, maybe even more than great. The album is filled with great technical riffs (the riff at 8:24 in the title track is a good example of that) and awesome solos that probably require a lot of skills to play, but I have to say that a few (only a few) riffs are quite generic. The bass, well, I can't say much about it because it's nothing special really, but I have to say that there's a really nice (and dark) bass "solo" in Torn Between Scylla And Charibdis. Talking about Torn Between Scylla And Charibdis, it's probably the best song on the album, it's filled with great riffs and solos, it's quite epic in parts and it's very catchy. The drumming is awesome, I don't know much about drumming, but I love the drumming on this album, it sounds quite technical. The vocals aren't great, I mean, they're nothing special, but they're very far from bad. Matt Heafy still sounds like young James Hetfield, but I think that his completely clean voice got much better. Like I said earlier, there's some screaming, but not THAT much. Every song has like 2 or 3 screaming parts and all of the rest is like on The Crusade.
About the songs, there's no bad song on this album, some are good, some are great and some are awesome. Into The Mouth Of Hell We March is almost as good as TBSAC! It's very melodic, it has a lot of harmonized melodies that remind of Maiden (the part at 2:29 reminds a bit of a part from Hallowed Be Thy Name for example), the verses are great and the choruses (especially the first one) are very catchy. Kirisute Gomen is one of the best songs on the album, it's thrashy ala Ignition (from The Crusade), it has a very memorable chorus and the part at 1:50 is just awesome! It's the perfect opener because it really represents the whole sound of the album. Throes Of Perdition is very nice, it has a great heavy main riff that reminds a bit of the main riff from Dream Theater's Panic Attack and it has a catchy chorus that is pretty radio friendly (it's probably the most mainstream sounding part on the whole album), but it's good anyway. The Calamity, He Who Spawned The Furies and Of Prometheus And The Crucifix are all great and have original and memorable choruses. I can't really pick a favorite one out of them. I didn't really like the title track at first, but now I love it! It's the progressive song of the album, it's very epic, it's very catchy and it has an awesome slow part that sounds like something that could have been written by Dream Theater, well, the whole song could have been written by Dream Theater! Ok, it's very far from a rip off, it doesn't sound like Dream Theater THAT much, but some of the riffs remind of them and overall it's almost as good as some of DT's epics. Insurrection is very thrashy, it would have fitted well on The Crusade, the verses are pure thrash and they're awesome! The chorus is catchy, but it's definitely not one of the best choruses on the album. Like Callisto To A Star In Heaven is the second weakest song on the album, but it's still a good song with some nice heavy parts. There's nothing else to add about it. Down From The Sky is the weakest one, it's not bad, but it's nothing special, it's quite generic and the chorus is nowhere near as memorable as the choruses from most of the other songs. The screamed part before the chorus is pretty nice though.
I don't really care about the production, but a lot of people do, so I'll just say that it's perfect! You can hear everything perfectly and every instrument sounds great. I would add more if I knew anything about the production terms.
Anyway, overall, it's not perfect, it has some unoriginal parts, but it's a GREAT album that grows on you with each listen and I highly recommend it! I'm SURE that if it wasn't a Trivium album, A LOT of metalheads would love it! Just put a sticker with another band's name on the cover and I can assure you that your tr00 metalhead friend will love it. Remove the sticker and he will suddenly hate it. Anyway, it seems that they (Trivium) get better and better, so personally, I can't wait for their next album, I expect something even better!
Trivium, The band people love to hate, and for a good reason to. Shogun marks Triviums fourth full length album and there isn’t much change in the Trivium camp. Matt Heafy has decided to bring the Japanese influence (which was featured in the likes of “Becoming the Dragon” from “The Crusade”) into more focus on this album. After listening to “Becoming the Dragon” off their earlier album, this sounds like a bad idea.
Trivium is still playing their brand of metal-core so if your going to check this out be warned that this is nothing new. As many of you should know they have indeed brought back the screaming and fans all over the world are creaming themselves in excitement, but was the so called “harsh” vocals any good in the first place? The answer is a big no. I am not sure who does the screaming anymore whether it’s Matt or Corey or both, but whoever it is should stop right now. The screaming is extremely bad. It honestly hurts my ear to listen to. The Crusade was no means a good album but was a breath of fresh air as it wasn’t plagued by constant screaming. The fans demanded the “harsh” vocals back (although Heafy stated in early interviews that he has never liked screaming and didn’t want it in Trivium) and low and behold there here in this album and sound exactly the same as in their other albums. Oh but the fans wanted it back so I guess they had to didn’t they? I’ll say it now that I am a death metal fan and I like harsh vocals so its not that I am biased towards those type of vocals but Triviums style is extremely crap and poorly executed.
Well onto the music. Matt and co. are extremely talented musicians which is my main problem. Why do they waste there talent and play this weak form of metal? They could do so much with there skills but they don’t seem to want to do anything else except rehash the same ideas. This album is plagued with weak and uninspired riffs. Yes there is an good amount of technicality in them but that cannot save them. Sure if you listen close enough there is some good ideas floating around like in the song “Insurrection” there are a couple of riffs that I actually kind of like, but as with every song on this album there is either a riff straight after that is complete shit or a chorus. If you’ve heard Trivium before you will know that their choruses aren’t that good but on this album they are so unbelievably pathetic. Every single chorus on this album shit. I’m a man who likes his choruses and this band offers nothing good at all. They’re either typical “catchy” choruses that are honestly not catchy at all or you’ll get a chorus that does not, in any way shape of form, fit with the song an destroys any chance of a song being decent. Take “Kirisute Gomen” for example. It’s not the best song in the world but it has some decent moments. When the chorus comes in though there is a complete change of pace and sound. It honestly doesn’t fit and if you’ve heard the song already you’ll know what I mean. It happens a second time at the end of the song also. It has a silent gap making you think the song is finished then a drum fill brings the chorus back in. It makes me cry as this song could have been half decent. The rest of the songs on this album just follow the same idea that “Kirisute Gomen” has set.
The lyrics on this album are appalling. If you want to get a laugh out of this album though read the lyrics. Here some example of how bad Trivium are at writing lyrics. “Into the Mouth of Hell” features classic lyrics like "dear god the fucking ship is sinking", "life is hard, a fucking battle" and “Kirisute Gomens” "with all the blood making a flood". This is only a few shots at the lyrical abilities that Trivium posses. Hearing these lyrics destroys this album even more and completely kills any chance of any song being good.
I’ve tried my hardest to like this album but I just can’t bring myself to say it is alright (never mind good). Of course on its release this will be snapped up by all the kids claiming to be metal heads nowadays and it will probably hit the number one spot in the charts. Everyone from the local Emo to Metal Hammer and Kerrang will be claiming it as the greatest album ever and just as good as “Master of Puppets” or whatever other bullshit they think is amazing. But as long as I don’t have to hear this album again I don’t care what they say.
Trivium’s success is one of metal’s great unfathomable mysteries. The band wears its influences on its sleeve, calls it homage or paying tribute and goes about making some of the most consistently weak metal that I’ve heard. Unfortunately, lots of people love the band and the end of September will see the band release its fourth album, Shogun.
Let’s set aside the sheer injustice of that for now and focus on this new album. Opening with a slow burning melodic guitar riff that actually made me sit up and pay attention, opening song Kirisute Gomen actually shows some promise for all of thirty seconds before the band decide that being creative and original is simply not for them and dive headlong into cliché. Kirisute Gomen basically sets the tone for the album with its carefully constructed patchwork of every currently popular metal cliché. There’s the pedestrian thrash riff where Heafy manages to sound like Hetfield circa Master of Puppets (even more so on Insurrection), a metal-core part with Heafy doing the whole hoarse barking, a clean and incredibly dumb chorus and a Machine Head like heavy part. The band may as well have recorded the same damn song 10 times because there’s nothing else on offer in Shogun.
The whole album just has a calculated feel to it. Like the band knows exactly what’s popular and go about doing that in a manner that is devoid of all imagination. Every riff on this album sounds vaguely familiar and every song has a similar format. There’s the thrash bit, there’s the Gothenburg twin guitar wanking that seems inspired by mid-period In Flames, there’s some very ordinary metal-core and maybe thanks to their part on the Black crusade tour, whole sections of songs that sound like Machine Head’s The Blackening. Then there are the embarrassing power metal bits although most of it comes across like Europe circa Prisoners of Paradise (listen to the chorus on Into the Mouth of Hell We March). In fact most of the choruses on this album could have come off Europe and even Bon Jovi albums from the 80s. It’s just as dumb and cheesy. I really don’t see why Heafy has to growl over this music because it’s not really that heavy and more often than not, Heafy just comes across as someone with a bad throat who should probably take some cough syrup and go to bed.
This review’s getting too long for its own good but I can’t stop just yet. This is the kind of music that boils my blood and just really annoys me. Here’s a band that can obviously play, yet are content to dish out the most dumbed down, watered down metal that they can think of. This is metal made by morons for morons and I can only hope that the band’s audience will grow up and realize they’re being suckered. May not happen any time soon but there’s always hope.
Originally written for http://www.kvltsite.com
To put it bluntly, no. Not new but slightly better than before.
The new album, Shogun, is a step up from Ascendancy, but equals The Crusade. It would seem that they have reached a plateau in their sound, now it is a plateau that isn't hard to reach, it is near the top of Mt. Sellout. Keep this in mind through out the review, I do not hate Trivium, I am not an elitist, nor am slamming a band that has just saw the fork in the road and chose the one to fame and money. The other fork would be to make good music that you believe in, like Dave Mustaine did.
On to the album. Shogun has a Japanese oriented cover and title. It appears that they have opted out of stealing from their traditional riff pool of Metallica, Megadeth, and Dream Theater. Those are the major three anyway. They focus now on the culture of Japan. I have no problem with this though, because they have to write about something, and this is a common thing to write about. I don't know where they got the riffs though, since in the time of the Shogun, "Heafy Metal" (see footnote 1) wasn't real popular. Anyway this album isn't all bad, just average. Trivium is a band that says, look at us we can play instruments.
Now for the breakdown:
The Good - Like any other metalcore (I don't care what the band says, they are metalcore) they have some catchy riffs and vocal parts from time to time. This is true for all the songs. So about 1/3 of each song is good.
The Bad - Also like bands of the -core genres, Trivium feels that it is necessary that have a melodic vocal followed immediately by a growl. They also fill the songs with pointless stuff that lengthens the albums too much. I think that an over an hour is too much when you are not telling a story from the beginning to the end,
such as Operation: Mindcrime by Queensryche. This album could use about 15 to 25 minutes shaved off of it to make it more bearable.
Final Ratings (out of 10):
Album as a whole: 7.0
Vocals: 4.8 (The usual -core vocal format)
Guitars: 7.5 (They show proficiency of the instrument through riffs)
Bass: 0.7 (Non-existent. Completely produced out of the band.)
Drums: 5.3 (He has potential, but does not take the music in any real direction)
Production: 9.5 (True miracle with this band)
1) ANationalAcrobat - "Heafy metal", Trivium's true genre.