Trivium - Shogun
Roadrunner Records
Modern Metal
11 songs (67:00)
Release year: 2008
Trivium, Roadrunner Records
Reviewed by Pete
Surprise of the month

They are few bands who genuinely split the metal fan-base. Trivium is arguably one of these bands. They seem to command both love and loathing in equal measure. It's a generalisation but the metal veteran will be in the latter group whereas the young/inexperienced metal fan will be in the former. To explain where I'm coming from I'll admit to being on the loathing side of the fence. I've always held the opinion that Trivium is one of the most over-rated bands in today's metal scene. Their breakthrough album, Ascendancy, had some good ideas but it all seemed a lot of huff and puff without having any real gravitas. Matt Heafy's vocals were a constant irritation sounding like an emo whiner one minute and a robotic shouter the next. It all smacked of them trying too hard to be metal. The amount of hype and media attention they received was baffling to many of the metal fans because quite simply they weren't that good. Certainly any band that dramatically changed their approach on their follow up album was in dire need of a direction. The Crusade was terrible. It was as if a Metallica tribute band decided to record an album in the style of their heroes, which annoyed the Trivium haters even more.

A couple of years on and reading the new Trivium debates on metal forums regarding their latest album Shogun is like being dropped in the middle of a flame war between the two metal factions. But something has happened in the debates, there are a lot of 'this ain't too bad' comments appearing from the loathers. I must confess, which may let some of the haters down, that Shogun is an album by a band that've found their direction again to some considerable success.

Shogun is a vast improvement on The Crusade, which wouldn't have been difficult if truth be told. But this album is not only a better example of the band than Ascendancy, it shows genuine progression and reigns in some of the annoying traits found on that disc. I was initially expecting a sonic car crash but was surprised at the quality of the first three tracks. Kirisute Gomen builds nicely to a frantic rhythm whereas Torn Between Scylla And Charybdis is something that wouldn't have sounded out of place on the latest Megadeth album. Lead video Down From The Sky is quite anthemic and a guaranteed crowd mosher containing a great chorus that even had me singing along (It's ok, it was 11pm on the M6, there were no witnesses). Insurrection is perhaps the album highlight with its sheer balls to the wall pace and attitude. It is also a song that could've sat on the track listing of …And Justice For All, which is probably why I like it.

The production is unblemished (Colin Richardson). Everything is in its place. The mix is perfect, the sound is hard hitting, but you could argue that it's not dirty enough, or it's too perfect. I think 'too clean' is a better description, but at this moment in time I'm not sure if this is a criticism or a compliment. The production does allow for the music to be crystal clear which enhances the lead breaks, an area where Trivium has always excelled. Shogun continues this trait by containing some wonderful lead work from Beaulieu and Heafy, He Who Spawned The Furies being a particular highlight. Whereas the musicianship is the band's strength Matt Heafy's vocals still remain its weakness. He has three ways of singing. The clean, the Hetfield and the annoyed robot. The latter, although used more sparingly than on Ascendancy, is irritating beyond belief. The clean doesn't have the depth to carry a metal tune and the Hetfield, arguably the best of the three, contains too many inflections similar to the great man.

Occasionally some of the songs sound like they've had two sections glued together. A good example is opener Kirisute Gomen, which logically progresses until the chorus comes in from left field. This trick happens a couple of times across the running time and spoils the overall flow of the track. The albums stutters in the second half until the epic twelve minute title track, but even before you reach this point you realise that this is album is pretty good and will gain the band a few more fans and a lot less hate. I'm not saying that I'm an instant Trivium fan because of Shogun but it's helped change my opinion of the band. It's not great or a world-beater but it’s a step in the right metal direction, if only they'd get a new singer.

Killing Songs :
Torn Between Scylla And Charybdis, Down From The Sky, Insurrection, Shogun
Pete quoted 78 / 100
Other albums by Trivium that we have reviewed:
Trivium - In the Court of the Dragon reviewed by Goat and quoted 83 / 100
Trivium - What the Dead Men Say reviewed by Goat and quoted 82 / 100
Trivium - The Sin and the Sentence reviewed by Goat and quoted 89 / 100
Trivium - The Crusade reviewed by Jason and quoted 79 / 100
Trivium - Ascendancy reviewed by Jay and quoted 70 / 100
To see all 8 reviews click here
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