After some difficult years for Trivium with member changes, vocal issues and an apparent uncertainty about the musical style the band wished to follow, they return with a new album, Silence in the Snow. The band themselves have spoken about the direction this album will take them which is further away from their classic sound with less of the angry growls and shouts and more melody and singing. That won’t, and hasn’t, pleased many people but as Matt Heafy himself has said, you don’t have to scream for a song to be heavy so, let’s make our own minds up.
Trivium formed in 1999 in Florida which seems strange as for some reason, even though that means they have been around for over 16 years, they still seem to carry an aura of “new band” with them like a bunch of talented blokes starting off on their careers rather than the well-travelled and experienced band they actually are. They have released seven full length albums including this latest release and have had a mixed and sometimes difficult career so far. Their first album, Ember to Inferno, was received well and got them a contract with Roadrunner relatively early in their careers. It was then they released the album Ascendancy which was phenomenally popular and thrust them into the limelight on a huge scale. With such a huge peak so early in their career, it was always going to be a struggle for them to live up to the hype that followed them and that seemed to be the case, well, based on popular opinion as the next albums were received a lot more cautiously. The biggest problem that has followed Trivium so far in their career is a seeming lack of identity as each album that came out seemed to be an experiment in styles with melody being added, aggression being removed and then brought back again, short songs, long songs, songs aimed at the mainstream and songs aimed at the heavier side. In truth, whatever direction they have gone in, they have pulled off the style very well and released consistently good songs on every album but not necessarily good albums as a whole and with such massive changes in style, they seemed to lose their core audience quite often. Silence in the Snow, released on the 2nd of October 2015, is probably the culmination of those experiments with the band apparently seeming happy with their current set up and their current line-up of Matt Heafy looking after vocals and guitars, Corey Beaulieu on guitars, Paolo Gregoletto looking after bass duty and Mat Madiro on drums.
Silence in the Snow, released through Roadrunner Records, has a total of 11 tracks on it coming in at just over 43 minutes long. There is also a special edition available which has two bonus tracks on it but it will be the standard 11 track album reviewed here.
The first song is called Snofall and is just a musical intro though not of the band playing. I guess it is there to build an atmosphere and it is a nice piece of music in a classical/orchestral vein that was written by Ihsahn (Emperor) though gives very little clue into what you may or may not be about to hear on the following ten tracks.
Track two is the title track, Silence in the Snow. It starts very promising with some fast and furious drums rolls over guitars. The song breaks down into a rhythmic pattern and the singing, which is singing and not shouting, is timed to match the rhythm of the drums. Musically it is very heavy and very fast with lots of intense drum fills and intricate guitar riffs being played out but the singing, while very listenable, lacks a little power. The chorus is well sung and catchy and the little guitar melodies that punctuate chorus and verse are interesting and well played. The singing just before the solo feels like it stretches Matt’s range a little too far but the solo that follows it is great, short but really good.
Next up is Blind Leading the Blind which starts with a huge intro that really feels quite thrashy. The vocals are sung melodically again but there is a bit more meat to them this time round. It is actually quite a fast song with drums in particular driving the song on at pace pretty relentlessly. There is a great solo near the end but unfortunately that leads into a short section which feels a little confused. It almost feels like they are losing their place a little. The song returns to the initial pace and rhythm just before the track ends to pull it back a little.
Dead and Gone is the 4th track on the album. It starts with a low toned, sludgy riff introduction before vocals join in. They are higher pitched, sometimes sounding a little strained, and are supported by a range of echo effects. The chorus is quite catchy and sung at a lower tone which seems to be the most manageable range so far for Matt. There is a short solo which isn’t really too memorable and the song comes to an end over drawn out singing of the songs title over the same sludgy intro riff. Nothing to get too excited over with this one.
The Ghost that’s Haunting You comes up next and has a great intro which displays a few short blasts on drums and guitars followed by a high toned melody. The verse is soft and rhythmic with the pace picking up for the pre chorus and chorus. The vocals are spot on with this one actually. Whatever the tone, high or low, it sounds nailed on. This song is probably the most radio friendly one heard so far, similar to how Dying in Your Arms was, but it is a catchy number that has some really great instrumental work in the final minute or so with fast drums, thumping bass, great rhythm and lead guitars all working well together.
Pull Me From the Void is the 6th track and has some really frantic drumming throughout the verses in particular. It starts off really quite thrashy and heavy but does break down again into the melody and soft singing for the not quite catchy chorus. The second verse picks up the instrument pace again before the repeated chorus. A little variation comes at the end of the second chorus with the song switching into some very heavy riffing and drumming. Some slightly off sounding vocals bridge this riffing and a really good solo before we get the chorus again through to the end.
Until the World Goes Cold is the 7th, and longest, track on the album. It has a slow, melodic intro that doesn’t really increase in pace or heaviness too much. The drums play out a repeated blast and there is a load of backing vocals singing off time a little with the main vocals which add a decent amount of depth to the song. This is actually even more of a radio friendly one than I thought The Ghost That’s Haunting You was. A decent solo again, something Trivium never lack in, plays out over faster tapping drums before it returns to the chorus. It is a nice enough song but just not really anything special. Like a lot of the tracks so far, it just lacks some little spark.
Rise Above The Tides comes next and adds a little much needed pace and heaviness. Musically this song has plenty going for it. The verse riff is excellent and heavy and as the song builds to the chorus, it is really quite frenetic and thrashy. The chorus is very catchy and it is probably my favourite solo so far but, there is still something not quite right here and unfortunately it is some of the vocals. Not all because, like I said, the chorus is great but some of the lines sound off especially whenever he sings “lost at sea”. It isn’t terrible, just a little odd during those moments.
The Thing That’s Killing Me is the 9th track and is the heaviest intro so far with squealing guitars and fast drums which slows down to rhythmic in the initial part of the verse. The song follows some interesting lines and the vocals sound fine here even daring to throw in a naughty word here and there. I quite like this track and it, once again, has a really good chorus and a very, very good extended solo, something Trivium seem to have mastered. The solos leads straight into a very good, heavy riff with thumping drums that is enjoyable. This is a decent song.
Beneath the Sun is the penultimate track on the album and is a slower paced track that uses drawn out vocals and low toned guitars and bass throughout the verse, the addition of fast drums in the pre chorus and then the further addition of high toned lead guitars in the chorus. It is quite cleverly done, the build up of the different layers and again, the vocals work well with this style of song. There is a huge solo in this track though it is split every nopw and then from a chorus of squealign guitar noises that actually break the melody of the rest of the solo a bit. The song ends with a single acoustic line being played out to fade.
The final track on the album is called Breathe In The Flames. It starts off with a very soft melody but quite quickly jumps into probably the heaviest intro so far. The vocals are really strong in the verse and are the closest we have come to shouts on the album though these change to sung as soon as the verse ends. The chorus is, once again very catchy and there are no vocal issues present here. The verse again is quite heavy and really sounds like they are following the style of Metallica during The Black Album days in places. A huge solo, again reminescent of Metallica, I think, is played out before a return to the catchy chorus. The song, and album ends with that same soft melodic introductory riff.
In truth, this isn’t a strong album despite there being a couple very good songs and a handful of not bad tracks. As a whole, it lacks any real energy and very much sounds like what it is – a band recovering from a lack of identity, a singers voice box issues and line up changes.
Musically there is plenty to enjoy but as songs, they are not all quite right. There is potential though as the ones that do work, work very well. Hopefully through some well needed consistency, they can bed themselves into the area they seem to be targeting (late 90’s Metallica/Dio/Anthrax) and they are talented enough to get back to the very top of their game but this isn’t it yet.
Matt is right – you don’t need to shout and scream to be heavy but you do need to display passion, emotion and energy and that feels lacking in far to many places on this album.
Trivium - Silence in the Snow (Roadrunner Records)