Well, kids, let this be a lesson to you all. Dropping clickbait jokes and fucking too much with the AMG HR department results in the dropping of various hammers. In my case, punishments manifested themselves in the form of name-calling (Steel called me a “Master Baiter”) and a metalcore promo for review. However, depending on your metalcore acceptance levels or your need to justify metalcore purchases by convincing others that they sound like “thrash,” my punishment may be your reward. For fifteen years, Trivium have delivered poppy, radio-friendly wannabe thrash built around sorta-angry metal for kinda-rebellious teenagers. However, after two formulaic, run-of-the-mill offerings (2011’s In Waves and 2013’s Vengeance Falls), do the boys having anything new to offer on 2015’s Silence in the Snow?
Fans of the band know very well the progression that is Trivium. From their aggressive, metalcore-ish infancy on their Ember to Inferno debut and the cementation as a household name with Ascendancy, to the Metallica-inspired thrashiness that is The Crusade, and their crowning gem in Shogun, Trivium has been building an army of Hot Topic adolescents for so long that many of these soldiers are grown up and regretting their neck tattoos. Following Shogun, the band has done nothing more than build sultry moats around choruses and filled them with core-riffage and shredding guitar solos. But now the band has found new inspiration from idols like Iron Maiden, Dio, Rainbow, Heaven & Hell, etc. and they’ve transformed those admirations into Silence in the Snow. Though this new record doesn’t careen aimlessly around the Moat of Trivium like the invasive carp of fate, its message and purpose are difficult to pin down.
For one, the album starts off with an intro guaranteed to make the metal elites shit black blood. Let me put it this way: how would you feel if a member of – oh, I don’t know – Emperor were to record a song for Trivium‘s new album? Good? Bad? Well, it happened. Opener “Snøfall” is the result of the infamous Ihsahn. It’s ok, take a deep breath and give yourself some time before moving on. Meant to strengthen the title track, Ihsahn instead threw together such an unnecessary album opener that it hurts “Silence in the Snow” (and Silence in the Snow) more than it helps it. When we finally do get to the title track, you quickly discover that this is a leftover from the Shogun days. What a rollercoaster ride so far. Regardless, this sappy misfit is a solid track and above the mark of the rest of the album. “Blind Leading the Blind” follows suit by picking up the pace with old-school metal leads and dropping some simplistic riffing that, if set to Volbeat distortion and fronted by Michael Poulsen, would easily find a home on the Danes’ next release. Two catchy songs in and this isn’t going too badly.
But then “Dead and Gone” happens. Along with “Pull Me from the Void,” it sounds like the band stapled down a catchy chorus and then built a song around it, almost as if building a song was an afterthought. Rolling into the fifth track of the album, it becomes apparent that Heafy has chosen to utilize mostly clean vocals on this release. Not a bad thing but it doesn’t add the kind of variation found on previous releases, and on top of that, only a handful of songs are strengthened by his vocals (the title track, “Blind Leading the Blind,” and “Beneath the Sun”), which is just as easily blamed on the overall songwriting. When Heafy pushes his vocals to make a mediocre song better, they come off sounding odd (“Pull Me from the Void”) or like someone we don’t want to hear. An example of the latter would be the Puddle of Mudd approach Heafy employs in the verses of “The Ghost That’s Haunting You.”
But on a more positive note, the overall album has variety between the groovy (“Blind Leading the Blind”), the melodic (“Beneath the Sun”), and the ballady (“Until the World Goes Cold”) that the last couple release lacked (even though they aren’t up to snuff with Shogun). Just the same, this music is for a special breed of listener and, with some of these stripped-down and clean-vocal driven changes on Silence in the Snow, many older fans may be hesitant. I don’t think this review is a surprise to most of our readers but, regardless, here it is at the cost of losing my metal cred and being sacked for referencing Puddle of Mudd [You’re name is now “Dr. Mudd.” – Steel Druhm].