Trial - MotherlessToday I shall be reviewing Motherless, the third album by the Swedish Trial. They are unfortunately unrelated to the sadly-defunct but happilyreincarnated, Chicago-based thrash outfit Trials. Upon consideration, I’ve come to regard Motherless as an album which my superiors will detest. It defies our American standards by featuring the correct1 spelling for “labour” in a track title, with another literally called “Juxtaposed:” a word which has been explicitly banned from use. I’m overjoyed by the furious twitching inevitably invoked in the editor reading this [DIE!! – Dr. A.N. Grier], but larger questions remain. Questions as to whether this delightful editor-trigger amounts to worthwhile music.

Trial essentially perform heavy metal but with a healthy progressive bent. Hammers of Misfortune spring to mind though their progression goes further than that of Trial. Maiden-y guitar harmonies are everywhere, as is a classic siren wail and hearty, rollicking drumming which is strong in the mix. The material is largely mid-fast in tempo and sheer energy is exuded effortlessly. Variety comes in the form of regular speed and melodic change but a few extra influences broaden the scope. These largely manifest in tracks’ openings. For example, a faux organ on “In Empyrean Labour,” acoustic delicacy on “Juxtaposed” and epic power chords on “Aligerous Architect.” But the record’s conclusion changes this a little as “Embodiment” features an ambient interlude to break apart its nine-minute length and “Rebirth” concludes with the most measured and brooding track. Trial here develop their atmosphere with wind instruments and an occasional tambourine.

The issue is therefore certainly not protracted consistency. Rather, the lack thereof. Everything goes into this riff salad, with little regard given to organic development. The guitars are constantly shifting and as a result, none really remain with you once Motherless‘s 48 minutes have passed. The energy and enthusiasm are faultless but repeated listens will not yield a distinct idea of what some tracks contribute to the overall experience. I considered what stuck after a song-by-song listen: the sad conclusion was very little beyond mere appreciation for technical ability. Describing the guitar-work exactly is difficult as much falls somewhere between riffs, solos, and transitions, such is their hyperactivity and noodling nature. Fragments of excellent ideas are detectable but they’re so buried it’s really not worth your time to find them.

Trial 2017

Compounding this is a misguided structure. The relative moodiness of “Rebirth” is a high point but it isn’t quite right at the record’s conclusion. It would serve itself and its peer songs better by offering a breather around the middle. The penultimate track, “Embodiment,” would significantly benefit given its longer run-time which could have conferred a dramatic ending. Furthermore, most tracks seamlessly bleed into each other. While this isn’t necessarily an inherent problem, the dearth of individuality among the separate tracks is aggravated by it. Indeed, the most memorable tracks are those which actually follow a vague verse-chorus structure, namely “Juxtaposed” and “Birth.” Repeated parts can embed as they’re familiar, unlike the frenetic majority.

All this results in what feels like a wasted opportunity. I enjoyed the epic back half of Vessel, Trial‘s prior release, but this leaves me cold. There’s too much going on and the lack of focus denies personality and consigns Motherless to the heap of sub-par 2017 records. At least it will be seared into my editors’ memories for daring to challenge their linguistic hegemony.


Rating: 2.0/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: v0 MP3
Label: Metal Blade Records
Websites: trial.bandcamp.comtrial.com | facebook.com/trial
Releases worldwide: April 7th, 2017

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  • Diego Molero

    The vocals are beyond awful, there is that issue too.

    • Gaëtan Baratin

      Beyond Awful could be a nice name for a metal band tho.

      • Diego Molero

        Hey, that’s true. You are free to use it :p

      • Oberon

        Don’t forget about Worse!

    • madhare

      Exactly. I could only take about 2 seconds of that pig-squelching. Kudos to El Cuervo for surviving the whole album several times.

  • Dr. Wvrm

    Only two exclamation points, Grier? You’re slipping.

  • RDP

    I actually kind of dig this. It’s a fun listen, but those vocals are all over the place. I feel with some training he could utilize them better. There’s some talent in there. Somewhere. But musically, I really enjoy it.

  • Eli Valcik

    The guy in the center of the band pic looks like angry metal Ron Burgundy

    • Westpaceagle

      Quick we need to caption this.
      “We aren’t leaving…until your mind is blown”

      • Westpaceagle

        “Son, did you spray paint this wall?”

  • Thatguy

    Tambourine…it’s on my list.

    • Ivan E. Rection

      New Mastodon has tambourine, didnt save it though.

      • Thatguy

        It’s not that list. It’s my list of instruments I do not want to hear – bagpipe, banjo, theremin, cello, and, amongst others, tambourine.

        • Ivan E. Rection

          Ah, that makes more sense. I’d bet harmonica is in the ‘amongst others’ pile.

          • Thatguy

            Yep.

        • Westpaceagle

          “Didgeridoo! I need an army of didgeredoos!” – Dewy Cox

          • Thatguy

            Didgeridoo is pretty metal.

            Not on the list.

        • Drew Music

          Thatguy isn’t a Saor fan, then?

          • Thatguy

            Not horrible, but not that interesting to me.

          • Drew Music

            I can see that, they’re not exactly shoving any envelopes into new territories. They do make solid tunes, however, and it would be a shame to see them written off merely for the incorporation of a non Thatguy-sanctioned instrument. They might not be crafting anything wildly different or unheard of, but the inclusion of bagpipes at least never feels forced or gimmicky. What then, if any, are your thoughts on saxophone in metal, à la Subterranean Disposition’s Wooden Kimono Fixative or maybe Tesseract’s Calabi-Yau?

          • Thatguy

            I don’t dislike Soar, they just don’t excite me.

            You open a can of worms with the question of the saxophone. Sax is the instrument I have most gigged with., but not in a metal band. Sax certainly can be metal, but there is a lot of bad sax playing out there.

          • Sean Sky

            Saor are pretty excellent in my eyes.

        • Moderation in all things. I’m no banjo fan, but Taake’s take on it in Myr is tolerable. Bagpipe and cello has deep roaring timbre that fits in at occasions. Few do theremin well, though. Winterhorde is the only band I know who has actually pulled it off.

          Créatures tried with theremin, pipe organ, piano, trumpet and violin, but it only sounded aberrantly odd and schizophrenic.

          • Thatguy

            Damn you with your voice of reason. Banjo can work sometimes, and well played cello, but I insist never the bagpipes or theremin, and here’s another – ocarina.

          • Here’s one we can all agree on; the kazoo.
            No matter how elaborate (search for Kazoos – Joe Penna on YouTube), it just sounds childish.

          • Thatguy

            Yes. I did own a kazoo once but it was joke…

          • Stop running down blue collar instruments!

          • Thatguy

            You haven’t reviewed any power metal so far this week and I need something to whinge about.

        • Diego Molero

          I really think that the cello is pretty metal. There are a lot of examples, Grayceon being my favorite.

          • Thatguy

            It’s badly played cello that kills it for me.

          • Diego Molero

            Well, I mean, if that’s the case, then even badly played guitar kills it. But I get your point. Have you heard of Grayceon? Their album “All We Destroy” is pretty good.

          • Thatguy

            I will check them out on your recommendation.

            It’s just that the mournful cello is such a cliche and that I have gigged with a cellist that was always out of tune. This traumatised me.

            Also I just like being a dick about some things, as SD is reminded of at least once a week.

          • Diego Molero

            Please do it :) There is even a review by AMG, he gave it a 4.0. It doesn’t feel like a cliche. Insted of a bass they use an electric cello, it’s really cool.

            Hahah, I get it. Being a dick can be fun sometimes.

            Please tell me what you think of them when you listen! (“Shellmounds” is their best track.)

          • Thatguy

            I’ve had a listen and there is a lot that is musically interesting and very clever and the fact that it is a cello is not really a problem (oh, I hated writing that).

            I don’t love the vocals but they are not offensive. And its’s all in tune!

            Not really for me though.

          • Diego Molero

            Well, it could be worse I guess, at least you don’t hated it!

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      What about the accordion?

      • Thatguy

        I have no intrinsic objection to accordion in the right context – and I don’t mean polka music. The South American accordion – bandoleon is it? – is great in the music of South America and there are some modern composers who have used accordion interestingly.

        It’s not metal though is it?

        • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

          The accordion used for tango (Argentina) is called bandoneon. There are other kinds of accordions used in different kinds of music across different South American countries.
          And you’re right, the accordion is not Metal.

  • Ivan E. Rection

    Two things: 1- all this talk recently of Hammers of Misfortune (here and also in the Locust Leaves review) has me hungry for new HOM material. 2- you must part your hair down the middle to be in Trial.

  • eleven.eight

    “[A]n occasional tambourine”? Great googly moogly. That’s just inexcusable! I’ve got a fever, and the only prescription is more tambourine!

  • Viktor Svensson

    Shame to hear about the album. Fantastic cover art though.

  • Akerblogger

    What’s the story behind the banning of “juxtaposed”? Is it because we do not wish to re-ignite traumatic memories of bands with ‘x’ in their name like X-Method?

    • El_Cuervo

      I was just told to stop using it, I don’t know why

    • GardensTale

      YOU JUST DON’T GET WHAT THEY’RE ABOUT

    • I blame Happy Metal Guy. Just because.

  • Hammersmith

    Oh, I thought this was a new album from Trials. A band that will forever trigger me based on my time with the xbox 360 game of the same title.