Trivium, having long established themselves as continuers of the Florida metal tradition have added to their impressive resume with What The Dead Men Say. Following up 2017’s The Sin And The Sentence, Trivium’s latest once again showcases their masterful musicianship and explores themes from several corners of inspiration. Besides the title which comes from a Philip K. Dick novel, the lyrical matter derives from war, global crises, personal issues and less expected subjects like Surviving R. Kelly and the death of a pet.
Right from the beginning, Trivium deliver a solid one-two combo of pure metal; the intro “IX” and the fire-footed “What The Dead Men Say.” The soaring and melodic “Catastrophist” follows, ever-relevant in current context whether dealing with an actual catastrophe or describing a destructive individual: “You’re a catastrophe/the one who’s come to devastate/catastrophist/you stole our innocence.” “Amongst The Shadows & The Stones” channels the essence of Trivium, a core of modernized thrash and death metal with just the right touch of hardcore to make it interesting. “Bleed Into Me” teems with melody, featuring a glorious harmonized guitar solo from Corey Beaulieu and punching clean vocals from Matt Heafy.
The core side of Trivium comes out fully in “The Defiant”, expanding on the title track’s propensity towards anthemic choruses with a hook that would border on power metal if not for Heafy’s contrasting screams. “Sickness Onto You” shifts back to metal and continues the wonderfully unrelenting battering of the eardrums Dead Men provides by way of Beaulieu’s shredding and Alex Bent’s machine-gun drumming; rounding out in its visceral brutality with a pounding breakdown. The jackhammers subside in favour of more melodic ear-goodies on “Scattering The Ashes”, inching back towards unabashed guitar-and-drums metal on the riff-fest “Bending The Arc To Fear”. The melding of the vicious and the colourful comes with the closer “The Ones We Leave Behind”, perfectly encapsulating all the aspects of Trivium in a nutshell before fading out; leaving a lingering want for more in the ears and hearts of the listener.
Trivium proves to the world with What The Dead Men Say why they remain a relevant force in the world of metal. They’re topical, for starters, addressing the present and predicting the future, they’re both mercilessly primal and carefully melodious and technical at the same time, and above all they’re just damn tight and good all around. It’s a pleasure to hear a record and a band like this that covers all the bases and doesn’t sound the least bit dated doing it. Hopefully once the pandemic evaporates, we’ll be able to get back to experiencing metal of this caliber authentically and euphorically as we do at home.