Review Summary: An improvement on 'The Crusade' but still a weak album, too long and ruined by Heafy's dreadful vocals.
While Trivium have always from the very beginning been a controversial band that most people seem to either love or hate, they received most of their criticism from fans and haters alike after their previous 2006 release, 'The Crusade'. On 'The Crusade' they took their Metallica influences to a whole new level and were attacked for being nothing more than a cheap imitation, and even for stealing from the band. On 'Shogun', Trivium have taken the criticism and moved back towards the earlier sound of their 2005 album 'Ascendancy', but with newer influences that never overbear on their music or 'rip-off' other bands. The production is also quite good, staying heavy but allowing for quite a melodic sound.
Despite the terrible cheesy song titles where Trivium don't seem to be able to decide if their album has a feudal Japanese or an ancient Greek theme, the songwriting is much improved from 'The Crusade'. While the songs all follow quite a simple formula, there are definitely some catchy riffs and decent solos all through the album and Trivium seem to mainly have escaped the Metallica 'inspired' sound of 'The Crusade'. While the riffs are often still quite thrashy, they never come at all close to sounding like Metallica clones. The rest of the instrumentation is also pretty impressive and much improved from previous releases, though the focus is definitely on the guitars.
Matt Heafy has also stopped singing in the same style as Metallica's James Hetfield, now using a style more similar to his earlier work, albeit improved. The screams of the earlier albums are also back, even though Heafy previously stated that he didn't like bands that scream.
The problem is, while the clean singing is definitely improved from before, the vocals are still absolutely horrible and destroy any enjoyment gained from the catchy guitars. The best parts of the album are the song introductions before Heafy opens his mouth and the solos. While there are at times quite catchy vocal melodies like those on the choruses of 'Kirisute Gomen' and 'The Calamity', the clean singing is usually very monotonous and at times slightly whiny, though not nearly as bad as they were on the first few albums, and at least he's not merely mimicking Hetfield anymore. The screamed vocals though are completely atrocious. Coming in at often predictable times they sound far too weak and forced, often ruining the music.
At over an hour long, the album does definitely drag on for far too long and many of the songs definitely last far longer than they need to. 'Shogun' especially is one of the best tracks but at over 10 minutes is especially guilty of this. All of the catchy choruses (and they aren't often that catchy) Trivium can throw in can't save the album from ending up sounding boring, predictable and repetitive. If some of the weaker tracks like 'Of Prometheus and the Crucifix' were taken out the album would more enjoyable on the whole.
Despite a few changes, nothing really changes much and the album follows a similar formula throughout, which eventually gets boring. Many of the guitar riffs are quite bland and generic, with few being really impressive. The acoustic section at the start of 'Kirisute Gomen' fails to create any real atmosphere and sounds out of place, and despite the huge hype around them, many of the solos are technically quite impressive though often actually quite boring to listen to. The other instruments merely do their jobs without adding much more to the music.
Overall, 'Shogun' is an improvement on 'The Crusade' and much more of Trivium's own sound, but is too long, and despite being improved, Matt Heafy's vocals are often absolutely terrible, destroying the rest of the music.
You know, regardless of your petty dislikes for Heafy's voice or your dislike for the type of underwear the drummer wears, they musicianship is great, their songwriting is damn fun. I'm not saying they're the best band in the world but this 'I hate Trivium' bandwagon is fucking ridiculous.
This album is nearing a 1.5 for me, but I still think it is one of the most atrocious things i've heard in my life. The riffs are all stale, and the drummer, while improved, is still not too special for his genre. Heafy is just awful all around, those screams, the cleans, the Hetfields, all bad. I can understand why someone would like it, but I can't stand it at all.
The rest of the instrumentation is also pretty impressive and much improved from previous releases, though the focus is definitely on the guitars.
Many of the guitar riffs are quite bland and generic, with few being really impressive. The acoustic section at the start of 'Kirisute Gomen' fails to create any real atmosphere and sounds out of place, and despite the huge hype around them, many of the solos are technically quite impressive though often actually quite boring to listen to. The other instruments merely do their jobs without adding much more to the music.
This is very well-written, far better than mine, but yea, it starts out like your gonna rate this a 3.5 or something, and then all of a sudden its a 1.5.
Eh, I just didn't word it very well. I mean the guitars are all very technically impressive, and the focus is definitely on them mainly but I still think they're quite boring despite this. I might reword it later, I'm going off now.