Review Summary: Better than I had expected, worse than I had hoped.
Another year has passed, and now the band that metal purists love to hate, Trivium, has released their fourth studio album. Throughout their short career, Trivium have amassed a whole load of positive and negative reviews, so much so that I can’t think of another metal band out there that splits opinions in such a way.
- Matthew Heafy: vocals, guitar
- Corey Beaulieu: Lead guitar
- Paolo Gregoletto: Bass guitar, backing vocals
- Travis Smith: Drums
Ascendancy was the first heavy metal album that I listened to, and consequentially introduced me to the genre. This being said, my opinions on that album maybe slightly biased as I thought it was a great album, contrary to many users here on Sputnik. The Crusade however, was a disappointment. Although the progression that the band made between these two albums was along the correct lines, the record seemed jumbled and unoriginal. No track stood out above the rest and most tracks sounded if not the same, then very similar. Due to this, it is my pleasure to say that Shogun doesn’t follow the same blueprints, and while not being a brilliant or revolutionary album, is definitely a pleasant surprise for those who were expecting a repeat of the crusade.
Vocally, changes have been made since their last efforts. Matt Heafy has obviously been working to improve his vocals, but unfortunately they still remain by far the worst aspect of Trivium’s music. The major change is the interplay between the Ascendancy style screaming, and the cleaner vocals from The Crusade. Heafy has in the past been guilty of sounding exactly the same throughout an album, and this modification has unquestionably helped him to prevent a repeat of this.
On the drums, Travis Smith has improved exponentially since his dismal effort in The Crusade. Whilst he is still clearly only a middle-of-the-road metal drummer, his performance here is admirable. No he doesn’t deliver innovative groundbreaking beats, indeed he sticks to on beats like *** to a blanket, but he delivers what he does with full effort and it sounds
good with the rest of the music, which is in my opinion the most important aspect of a drummer.
The guitar work is as solid as ever. Arguably it has always been the best part of Trivium’s music, and Corey and Matt do not disappoint. The whole album is powered by the riffs and they do not disappoint, they are full bodied and literally carry the songs at a few points. These are balanced with some equally breathtaking guitar solos, some of which are truly outstanding and on occasion save songs such as ‘He who spawned the furies’
, where the solos really single-handedly lift this from an average track, to overall a quite good one. Also the title track ‘Shogun’
is possibly the best track that they have ever written, it combines great guitar work, with the best vocals on the album, and more solid drumming from Smith.
The album isn’t all good however. Tracks such as ‘Like Callisto to a star in heaven’
feel out of place in the album, and are also musically below par. The former sounds like it belongs on The Crusade, need more be said? The latter is as heavy as anything else on the album, but just doesn’t sound right and boasts the worst vocals on the album.
All this said, Trivium is still definitely a band for the future. Shogun is a definite improvement on The Crusade and is at least as good as the bands first two albums. Although Heafy’s vocals have improved from previous releases, it is still the main weakness that the band has, and he seriously needs to improve more if the band wants to fulfil their promise. So yes, one day in the not so distant future, Trivium will please everybody, and with Shogun, the future is one step closer.
- Good guitar work, with quality solos back
- Title track is infinitely better than anything they have done before
- Now sound like Trivium, not Metallica
- The still poor vocals of Matt Heafy
- Song structure is still, for the main part, simple
- Like Callisto to a star in heaven
- Irritating song names
Overall 64/100 = 3 Good