For better and worse, Trivium haven't made the same album twice since 2005's Ascendancy. In keeping with their own tradition, they tossed out plenty to reinvent themselves on Silence in the Snow. Drummer Nick Augusto has been replaced by drum tech Matt Madiro, and producer Michael "Elvis" Baskette takes the chair previously inhabited by David Draiman on Vengeance Falls. Vocalist/guitarist Matt Heafy makes great strides in his quest to become a rock singer. It's true that he's been moving in this direction since Shogun, but for this date he worked with vocal coach Ron Anderson. His voice is enormous and his delivery clean throughout. In the past, the guitars provided the melodic focus in Trivium's songs, but here Heafy's singing claims that role. The first single and title track was demoed for 2008's masterpiece Shogun. It was left unfinished because it didn't fit the record's vibe. The nearly processional riff, the sweeping power metal bridge, and the hyperkinetic rolling tom-toms and bass drums, lay the groundwork for Heafy's soaring, storm-gathering voice. The chorus and hook are infectious and heavy. There's an urgent, almost straight-ahead stadium rock vibe to second single "Blind Leading the Blind," but the dual lead work and melodic tension in the vocal add contrast; Madiro's drums alternately swing and pummel, creating force and friction. "Pull Me from the Void" is slower, with its melodic breakdowns and galloping drums opening a space for Heafy's vocal to deliver a near pop melody. Third single "Until the World Goes Cold" is, despite a metal riff in the intro, melodic hard rock. Corey Beaulieu's and Heafy's formidable dual leads, thrumming bassline, and machine-gun drumming in the instrumental passages add heft to the hypnotic melody. "The Ghost That's Haunting You" offers the most emotional lyric and catchy chorus on the set even as the downward bang of the guitars and Paolo Gregoletto's single-line bass plays the changes. Two songs, "Dead and Gone" and "Beneath the Sun," contain virtually the same chorus -- an unthinkable notion on earlier records. But it isn't due to lack of imagination, but rather the pursuit of a single-minded creative focus. On Silence in the Snow, Trivium seem to have (finally) decided to become the arena rock band they've been inspired by and had in them. (Your own particular prejudice will decide if this is good or bad.) Every other record in their catalog hinted at their further development as a metal unit; this one doesn't. Trivium are using the building blocks of metal to pursue a wider, more nuanced, musical direction.
Silence in the Snow
(Digital Download - Roadrunner Records #016861750206)
Review by Thom Jurek