Where modern popular metal sits right now

Trivium have been ‘the next big thing’ in metal for as long as I can remember now, blowing up on a not-so-saturated metal scene in the early 00s before hitting cruising altitude and recording more lacklustre albums by 2013. 

Try as I might I have never really been able to ‘get’ whatever it was they were doing, passing it off early as part of the new thrash wave and later as a bloated corpse of what once was or could have been.

Self realisation is a big part of being an artist and with their last album, Trivium seems to understand they had left a lot of their fans behind and it was time to crank the amps back up and play some pure riffs.  This album is a continuation of that return to blacker and heavier pastures.  The cinematic instrumental IX leads straight into What the Dead Men Say with a sense of urgency that forces the listener to kick the furniture and open up a lounge room-sized one-man mosh pit.

Firmly establishing this wrecking ball-sized mixture of modern metal and retro-thrash of which Trivium were once the pinnacle continues with an opening salvo that pushes and pulls its way through in a manner that (for this non fan) is surprising and refreshing. Catastrophist holds onto the band’s more recent melodic tendencies while maintaining a weight that was missed as early album highlight Amongst the Shadows & the Stones smacks the listener across the back of the head, one of the heaviest tracks Trivium has released in some time. The venom and spittle that comes hurling out makes one wonder who or what has pissed the band off so much that they are back to releasing material this intense.

Forgiving the slower breather tracks like Bleed Into Me, this is a band that has found the form of their life. Even for a listener like this me who has found the hype difficult to understand, it is easy to get here as the album just keeps a pace to its end, with barely a hiccup or handbrake moment to be found.  This is the expression of where modern popular metal sits right now, and may just be the yardstick many bands are measured against not this year but into the future.

Listening to this album forced me to go back and re-evaluate previous stances against Trivium and it didn’t do anything other than express just how much growth they have gone through to make an album that manages to stay modern, thrashy and engaging, even managing to finish on one of the best tracks, The Ones We Leave Behind.

Now, where is the step to climb aboard this fast moving band wagon?

  1. IX
  2. What the Dead Men Say
  3. Catastrophist
  4. Amongst the Shadows & the Stones
  5. Bleed Into Me
  6. The Defiant
  7. Sickness Unto You
  8. Scattering the Ashes
  9. Bending the Arc to Fear
  10. The Ones We Leave Behind