Trials - This Ruined WorldThe heavy metal scene has spent some time in recent years navel gazing. With every new “wave” that crawls out of the scene’s belly button, there’s one common trait: they’re fundamentally referential. Be it re-thrash, retro Swedish death, retro doom (omg staaahp), and even orthodox black metal, these waves aren’t about doing something new, they’re about making backward-looking music, with the aim of touching the essence of something perceived to be lost. Unfortunately, things that haven’t been doing this in recent years are scenes everyone feels uncomfortable with (generally -core) and these get labelled “modern metal.” So when a band genuinely sounds modern, but isn’t -core, labeling gets hard. And let’s face the facts: Angry Metal Guys need to label, it’s the life blood of this blog and of the reviewing arm of the metal industry.

Trials‘ lucky third record—This Ruined World—poses a problem: it’s tough to label. It is at its core a modern thrash album—and I don’t mean -core, seriously—with few peers and little grounds for reference in 2015. And Trials has been growing into this for some time. While I enjoyed the debut album Witness to the Downfall, I was floored by 2013’s In the Shadow of Swords, which hit the #3 spot on my Top 10(ish) of 2013, and which still ranks as one of the best records I’ve heard in the last 5 years. So This Ruined World comes with a world of expectations.

Trials lives up to the challenge of my heightened expectations by delivering unexpected twists, while keeping an iron-clad fist clenched around the essence of their strength: vicious riffs, slick songwriting, and immense presence. This Ruined World distinguishes itself from the opening salvos through its unique production. Hardly a lo-fi production job, the album still sports a raw, trashy sound. The drums, with splashy symbols and a snare that borders on too loud and too raw, are the lynch pin on which fat (not just audible!) bass and grindy guitar tones rest. Vokillist (get it?) Mark Sugar’s screams add a frenzied layer on top of the whole thing. The best comparison in tone is The Great Southern Trendkill from Pantera; scrappy, raw, heavy and tough. Y’know, like it’s heavy metal or something.

The writing on this record isn’t a huge departure from In the Shadow of Swords, exactly, but there’s a sense of adventure and experimentation on This Ruined World that was not one of the defining features of its predecessor. While Trials is unmistakably a thrash band—with all the triplets, Testament riffs and palm muting that entails—the record is littered with sick riff after inventive lick, and the best part is that they enthrall and surprise. The lead (“Gremlins II”) by Ryan “Still the New Guy” Bruchert and Morbid Angel vibe in opener “Truth Defiled” offsets groove riffing and feeds into one of the coolest dual harmonies ever featured on a metal record (adorably entitled “Tango and Thrash”). “Don’t Believe the Word” features fantastic dissonance and groove and is simultaneously hooky and uncomfortable. The chorus (eh?) on “Beat the System to Death” rocks an inventive melody and a near punk rock intensity, while the verses blast out at 90 miles an hour. And the title track features the sickest Morbid Angel riff since Formulas Fatal to the Flesh on the chorus.

Trials 2015

Trials isn’t all thrash riffs, though. As the commercials of my youth were always reminding me, every rocker has a soft side. This makes rare appearances, but I loved the Opeth-homage on “Inheritance,” the proggy bridge on “Blink of an Eye,” and Mark’s baritone croon litters tracks to great effect on tracks like “Digging My Own Grave” and “This Ruined World.” Unlike a lot of bands who fall into a formula of dropping cleans into the chorus, and screaming over verses, Trials never follows a mold, instead letting songs dictate the vocals. And the band’s melodic side goes hand-in-hand with an elite sense of melody that lands these guys with the Bay Area and Gothenburg greats, without ever feeling derivative.

For me, the biggest weakness is that this album could sound even better if it weren’t as loud as it is. Given the quality of the tone and sound, I’m not sure how having more room to breathe for the bass and drums would hurt This Ruined World. One can argue—as they do—that for their sound to work, they want the record loud and dense, but I disagree. Still, for what it is, the production on this record is good. I love the tone and the whole spectrum of how the instruments work together. The trashy sound gives the album a live feel that is a nice shift away from Industry Standards™, without delving into the DIY sound of un-tuned guitars and one-take vocal tracks that is increasingly popular in the underground.

As a total package This Ruined World is an excellent record. The songs on here are razor sharp, tightly edited, written to be dense, technical, and immense—and it’s the balance Trials strikes between chugging intensity, harmony, dissonance and a fine understanding of dynamics in all the right places which makes this album stand out. I don’t know if these guys are harbingers of a new wave of metal that’s unapologetically interested in cutting the bullshit and writing great songs, or if they’re just a fluke in a wave of stoned kids with bell bottoms and bad mustaches. But whatever they are, I think we should all take a moment to appreciate just how good This Ruined World is and how good Trials is getting.


Rating: 4.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kb/s CBR mp3
Label: Unsigned
Websites: trials.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/trialsmusic
Releases Worldwide: July 24th, 2015

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  • Kronos

    Fucking finally.
    Also, great review and I agree that this is an awesome album.

  • Dr_Fisting

    Eh…these guys are OK I guess.

    • Came in to check the comments here. Pressed play up top, and have now–five songs later–I have not left the page because I can’t actually stop listening to the record.

      Just OK, I guess.

  • Let it be known that this is the first time I’ve ever compared a band with Pantera on this blog.

    • Yep, you usually hold everything to the lofty standards of Hellyeah!

      • *shudders*

        • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

          WHEN YA SHUDDER IN DISGUST YA GETCHA HELLYEAH

      • Martin Knap

        is that the band that was called the Donald Trump of hair metal?

    • RuySan

      Yes, the band lost a potential fan right there. I hope you are ashamed

      • It’s the production, listen to the fucking record!!

        • RuySan

          I can’t since you mentioned “Pantera”. The damage is done

          • I mentioned THE PRODUCTION. Honestly. Listen. If you don’t listen you are robbing yourself of possibly one of the best metal records you’re going to lsiten to this year.

      • Dr_Fisting

        Hating on Pantera = novice metal fan.

        • Alexandre Barata

          Pantera was so hip they could almost hop… It’s fine to dislike Pantera :)

        • Hating on Metallica = total noob

        • RuySan

          “Disliking Pantera since 1991”

          That’s what’s going to be written on my new t shirt.

          • sickbroski

            And on the back
            “Pantera: 2 real 4 meeeeee”

  • Garak

    I didn’t really expect someone to beat Satyrasis for the best thrash metal album this year, but here I am. Sorry, …Of The Dead.

    • Checking them out now. Thanks.

      • Garak

        Don’t thank me unless you like them!

        • Zach Ohren mastered this. Oh, here we go…I will sit down and listen to it very soon.

    • Luke_22

      Thanks for the heads-up, sounds pretty sweet on first impression.

  • Norfair Legend

    I need to up my blood pressure meds to take in all these grains of salt in this clearly biased review.

    Damn, it’s all true though…everything you said ! Great album deserving of all the praise it’s getting, so fantastic job once again! I’ll shake a little out myself being a Chicagoan.

    • It’s not super biased if it’s all true!

      • I better get the same glowing adulation when my album of duets with Jorn hits the streets.

        • Lasse Momme

          5.5/5

          calling it right now

    • Dr_Fisting

      What’s up neighbor!

      • Dr. Scorpion

        Please have this remastered !!!!!( if i correctly remember our in-house dentist is the bands vocalist. The singer sounds as if his stomodium has been replaced with his proctodium, in a good way.)(Try hiring Steven Wilson or Swano.)

  • Dr. Scorpion

    Again a Dr6. My poor ears.

    • BUT THE RIFFS.

      • Dr. Scorpion

        They sound like thrash on methylphenidate.

      • Thatguy

        That’s what I say!

        And no-one cares.

        • This production si really good. I tcould easily have been a lot worse.

          • Whiskeyjack

            I dont get the hate! I can hear everything! Production is awesome, I cant even remember the last thrash album I heard the bass this clearly in!….no wait…. I do remember.. it was Ride the lightening at the beginning of For whom the bell tolls.

  • Kmill

    I drove over 100 miles today listening to talk radio because I had my fill of recent cd’s. Tomorrow, thankfully I will have some new music to listen to.

  • Lasse Momme

    Well this is certainly interesting. I remember hearing their last record and not at all getting it, it just didn’t hook me in the least. The decline of thrash metal as a genre has left me pretty cynical when it comes to new releases from bands old as well as new and In The Shadow Of The Sword just struck me as entirely average and uninteresting when i heard it. This is far better in my opinion, but I just don’t know if I would agree with the thrash label on the record, although HOLY SHIT they might have some of the best thrash riffage I’ve heard all year. I still don’t think It’ll find it’s way on to my top 10 list when the year is through, but I can definitely appreciate what they are doing.

    What this is, is honest to god, gosh darn modern metal, that is comfortable in it’s own. Wether you like the music or not I think you have to respect and appreciate that kind of sentiment in the current climate.

    PS: The opening riff on Digging My Own Grave is the type of music you wanna hear when you’re about to puch scumbags in the teeth.

    • Dr_Fisting

      That last sentence should be on the sticker on the CD case! Glad you enjoyed the album.

      • Lasse Momme

        Feel free to use it!

      • If you don’t blurb me it’s a 2.0 on this fucking review.

        • Dr_Fisting

          We shall blurb you as well, boss.

        • Kronos

          I see someone’s got blurb envy.

    • Lasse Momme

      I take back everything. This record fucking DESTROYS.

      • sickbroski

        I was about to gnaw your balls off, but ok.

  • Luke_22

    Been jamming this since its release and it really is a great modern thrash album, a rare commodity. Hadn’t heard these dudes prior to Kronos name dropping them in a review, which linked me to AMG’s review of In the Shadow of Swords, which clued me in to Dr Fisting’s involvement. It was all very touching.

  • Holy fuckin moly! 4.5 is real!
    I just listened to “This Ruined World” and it was solid!

  • Worldeater

    In the Shadow of Swords was one of my biggest surprises on AMG with its intelligent songwriting and top-notch execution. I have to admit that I had to listen to This Ruined World a couple of time before it finally grew on me, mostly because I really don’t like the production. For me it’s to far on the bright side and the drums are kind of fuzzy. But then again there are this awesome riffs and arrangements and last but not least lyrical themes I can kind relate to. Bring it on guys! Aotm!

  • Hróðvitnir

    First time I listened to it, I was kind of unconvinced for some reason, probably lack of attention. But then I listened to it again, and hell! that record is fucking fantastic and gets even better with every listening.
    If that’s not made AotM, I’ll send AMG smallpox letter bombs.

    • Irineu Carvalho

      Yes, that is a record that grows and I cannot quit listening to Blink of an Eye

      • chris

        Amazing. Testament influence but so much more. Death metal tones at times. Its just a complete package.
        It does not reinvent thrash but is such a blistering display of chops and fundamentally great arrangements.
        One is reminded of every great band of this genre at times. Even a fnm passage.
        Dissonance occurs but never damages the flow. A riff a well written lead comes in at the perfect time.
        Later Pantera is there.
        That guitar tone is such a great mix of crunch and well just awesome.
        I do admit at times i think Alex Skolnick will appear.
        But these guys while not shredders hold there own.
        Armored Saint puts in an appearance.

        This is a bunch of aware musicians who know how to acknowledge and then create.

  • Christopher McGrath

    Great record, the riffs are crisper than my dress shirts after a proper ironing with spray starch.

  • John Mosley

    This album really surprised me. A true gem. Tasty.

  • TminusEight

    I clicked play on the linked track and ended up listening to the whole album, twice. This is awesome metal and sounds really new to me. Love it.

  • Isaac VanDuyn

    This album is awesome. Thanks for finding me good new metal all the dang time.

  • Paul Revell

    Why aren’t this band massive???!! Absolute travesty!!!! This really reminds me of Revocation, but with even more variety. Bloody love it, and thanks for making me aware of this awesome band!!!!

  • anonbr666

    Amazing album. Another gem I discover through AMG.

    Btw, to those who have Spotify, Trials has only 200 followers there, so please go immediately follow them.

  • Fonduefus

    Fuck yes. Indeed. And all other general Yeses.
    Grabbed this record based almost entirely on this blog’s recommendation, and have been digging the ever-loving shit out of it since….
    Been trying to push it on my Metalest of friends… I think they’re coming around. Gonna end up being an album of the year for sure.

  • John

    Wow this is awesome. Just found the site yesterday, and have been reading backlogs ever since. As a fellow Chicagoan, I’m ashamed I didn’t know of Trials before, but I’ve been looking for a local band or two, and Trials fits the bill and then some. This review, in addition to Immortal Bird’s, introduced me to some incredible local stuff.

    As an aside, Angry Metal Guy, this site effin rocks. I was taken aback by how brutally honest the reviews on here are, but it’s just what I needed in my life. Thanks.

    • Welcome aboard and thanks for the kind words!

  • Oscar Albretsen

    I just got my order of this CD from the band. It took an extra day or so to send it because they were running a bit short on supplies, now when I got it, they’d also thrown in a copy of their last album “In the Shadows of Swords” just to be cool. That’s awesome of these guys. The music rules, too.