Trivium have long been a pretty controversial band in the metal scene for a variety of reasons, ranging from their image to their early metalcore sound. Yet one could never accuse Trivium of playing it safe: on every consecutive album they’ve taken very different directions, dabbling in metalcore, thrash metal, progressive metal, heavy metal, and others. But on their seventh album ‘Silence in the Snow’ Trivium undergo perhaps the most significant change in sound to date. The metalcore roots of this band are firmly a thing of the past, replacing those early influences with traditional heavy metal bands like Iron Maiden and Dio. The harsh vocals present on almost every previous Trivium album are entirely gone, with vocalist/guitarist Matt Heafy stepping up his clean vocal performance substantially to compensate, and taking a much greater role in carrying the songs.
The lack of harsh vocals are surely the most immediately noticeable change in the Trivium formula, but having listened to SITS a number of times now I honestly don’t particularly miss them. His harsh vocals were fantastic, but there are very few occasions on this album where I feel they would have improved the songs. Heafy, with his powerful baritone voice, carries the songs far more so than in previous albums, where on previous albums the guitars carried the melodies to a much greater extent. Having worked with a vocal coach his voice sounds better than ever, with a lot more power, even if it often lacks the grit that helped previous albums hit hard. And he no longer sounds like David Draiman, so there’s that too.
The eponymous track ‘Silence in the Snow’, the first single released from this album, was originally written to feature on Shogun but didn’t quite make the final cut as the band didn’t feel it matched the overall sound of that album. But it is filled with great guitar leads, a catchy chorus, and a great guitar solo. The second track ‘Blind Leading the Blind’ features massive guitar leads and riffs, while ‘Until the World Goes Cold’ is a much more poppy song compared to the others; it took me a while to come around to it but now I really enjoy it. It really shows off the power of Matt’s vocals, and while it’s very straightforward, not every song needs to be a 15 minute opus to be enjoyable.
The album does sag a little towards the second half, however. The songs ‘Pull Me From the Void’, ‘Rise Above the Tide’, and ‘Beneath the Sun’ are not quite up to the same standard and are not as memorable as many of the other really good songs on this album. They’re not bad per se, they just don’t do very much to stand out and don’t have very much identity of their own. Thankfully the band do go out strong with the incredible ‘Breathe in the Flames’, easily the most aggressive song on the album. It features super heavy riffs, pummeling double-bass drums, an astonishingly brutal and chaotic guitar solo, and maybe Heafy’s most gritty vocal performance on the album.
But the strange thing is that actually perhaps my two favourite tracks from this album are the bonus tracks on the deluxe edition, ‘Cease All Your Fire’ and ‘The Darkness of My Mind’. It genuinely confuses me why these two were left off of the regular version of the album when in my view they’re significantly better than any of the aforementioned songs that were included. None can be accused of lacking a distinctive identity
‘Cease All Your Fire’ in particular might be my favourite track from the entire album. Even more so than ‘Silence in the Snow’, this track feels like it could have easily been on Shogun. The main riff is incredibly catchy, the chorus anthemic, and after the first chorus the second guitarist Corey has a tapping section that reminds me of ‘Torn Between Scylla and Charybdis’, and it’s an amazing section.
But whether you will actually appreciate any of the songs on this album depends a lot on what you really want out of it. If one were to compare it to Shogun then there are a number of key differences: the songs are much shorter and more concise, with more traditional verse-chorus song structures and less general progressiveness and experimentation. So if you were expecting Shogun 2.0, you might be disappointed. But if you go into it with an open mind you will find an extremely consistent and mature heavy metal record. This is a very different, more grown-up Trivium to the one that wrote Ascendency.