Review Summary: Although there's still room for improvement, Shogun is easily Trivium's best work to date.
Before releasing The Crusade
, Trivium assured their ever-growing fan base that the album would be full of creative and inspired material. Of course, this turned out to be absolutely correct, provided that you defined “creative and inspired” as “neither creative nor inspired.” As a result, despite the fact that The Crusade
received some positive reviews from critics, it was less likeable in the minds of many fans than, for example, the Holocaust. At some point, the Floridian quartet must have realized this, because it seems they’ve actually put a good amount of effort into their fourth album, Shogun
. With a much darker tone, as well as an enhancement in performance by all four of Trivium’s members, Shogun
is as good of an improvement over The Crusade
as anyone could have hoped for.
Which isn’t to say that the album doesn’t have problems of its own. In true metalcore fashion, every single song on the album follows the exact same structure, with only a few slight variations – even The Crusade
wasn’t this formulaic. In addition, the relentless energy of Ascendancy
is still absent, being filled in by minute attention to detail. Drummer Travis Smith is as skilled as ever, but on Shogun
he sounds a little too
precise; it almost sounds like the drumming was handled by a machine. By themselves, none of these problems are particularly harmful, but together they actually hurt the album quite a bit.
Besides that, however, the album doesn’t have much to complain about. Evident as early as the first minute of opener "Kirisute Gomen" is a newer, darker sound – one that Trivium can finally call their own. To go along with this, countless references to blood and violence can be found in the lyrics; present on Shogun
are, for instance, a particularly dark song about a father eating his children ("He Who Spawned the Furies") and a slightly more energetic song about a war waged upon heaven ("Insurrection"). Even Matt Heafy’s vocals seem to complement the album’s noticeably darker tone. Not only has he started screaming again, but he has also expanded his range downward for much greater variety.
Also given an increase in variety is the music itself; although the songs all share the same structure, the nature of each one differs from that of the others. From fast-paced, shorter tracks like "Insurrection" and "Like Callisto to a Star in Heaven," to slower and more melancholic songs such as "Down From the Sky" and "He Who Spawned the Furies," the amount of original material on Shogun
, when compared to its predecessor, is staggering. Once again, Trivium have saved the longest track for last; "Shogun" lasts for almost twelve minutes, due to the lengthy acoustic section included in the middle. Unlike previous Trivium releases, this album rarely ever gets boring, as every track has something that makes it stand out.
Sure, it’s true that Trivium chose once again to completely reinvent themselves instead of building on their previous sound. But given how awful their previous sound was, this can hardly be looked at as a bad thing, right?
Locrian’s Top 5 Memorable Moments:
5. Chorus of "He Who Spawned the Furies"
4. Opening drum pattern of "Kirisute Gomen"
3. Breakdown of "Like Callisto to a Star in Heaven"
2. Guitar/bass solos of "Torn Between Scylla and Charybdis"
1. Chorus of "Into the Mouth of Hell We March"