This was always going to be a tough task for Trivium. How to match the earlier success, but still not sound like a complete sellout. I think this album succeeds admirably well. First let me say that this is NOT an overtly commercial record. Sure there are melodies both sung and played, but this doesn’t mean it is cheesy or weak. Trivium have been combining rough and clean vocals for a while, and this album shows that potential being achieved. Same with heavy riffing interposed with beautiful melodies. The clean voices and choruses sound much less like Hetfield. The growling is deeper and more “death” style. I have always enjoyed their guitars, and again, you won’t be disappointed. Tons of riffs and solos. Also, there is a bit more depth to the songs, both in scope and in musicality. Get this album if you like newer metal with a major classic metal influence, lots of solos, and thundering riffs and powerful drumming / bass. It will not disappoint. There is nothing really bad about it. Good for them!!
Trivium stormed onto the metal scene in 2005 with their critically acclaimed debut album Ascendency and continued their dominance with the follow-up The Crusade. Now the band has unleashed their most cohesive and mature effort, Shogun. The band is poised to continue to knock the metal and hard rock community on its ass with what will definitely be hailed as the metal album of the year by critics and fans alike!
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Ascendancy, and The Crusade were good, well-written albums in my opinion. Matt Heafy has the kind talent that either makes you hate him, or fills you with the desire to get better. The previous two albums culminate on Shogun. Shogun sounds like neither of their previous albums but rather fuses them along with some new sounds. If you like metal even slightly you will appreciate Shogun and the musicianship Trivium brings to the table!
Trivium is a band that gets a lot of hate from a lot of metalheads, but do they deserve it? I really think that they don’t and I’m not a fanboy at all, in fact, I don’t really like Ember To Inferno and Ascendancy. I’m pretty sure that a lot of metalheads hate Trivium only because they used (yeah, they don’t anymore) to play metalcore and/or because they aren’t tr00 (that’s what some people say) or for another reason that has nothing to do with the quality of their music. Actually, I used to think like that too, but one day I decided to stop being so close minded, I listened to The Crusade and I liked it a lot. I’ve seen a lot of ridiculously negative reviews for this album and honestly, I really don’t understand them because Shogun is very far from bad! My guess is that some of them wanted to hate it.
A lot of people consider Shogun to be a mix of Ascendancy and The Crusade, well, they’re right. It’s thrashy and “melodic” like The Crusade and it has the screaming of Ascendancy, yeah, but it’s different overall, it’s more melodic (The Crusade was more thrashy than melodic), more epic, more progressive, it doesn’t sound as mainstream (By the way, Down From The Sky is the most mainstream sounding song on the album and it’s the weakest one too) and it doesn’t really sound like Metallica at all. I couldn’t really give it a specific metal genre, it’s quite unique (atleast to me), it’s a mix of a lot of things, sometimes it’s heavy, sometimes it’s thrashy, sometimes it’s progressive (ala Dream Theater), sometimes it’s melodic (ala Iron Maiden), sometimes it’s catchy, sometimes it’s epic, but I can say that it’s not metalcore. Some people say that it’s metalcore, but they must’ve heard a different album or maybe they’re simply Trivium haters because there’s nothing metalcore about this album except the screaming, but it’s not even THAT metalcore, it sometimes reminds of bands like Dark Tranquillity.
Anyway, the guitar playing on this album is very good, Matt and Corey are GREAT guitarists, hell, maybe even more than great. The album is filled with great technical riffs (the riff at 8:24 in the title track is a good example of that) and awesome solos that probably require a lot of skills to play, but I have to say that a few (only a few) riffs are quite generic, they’re typical metal riffs. The bass, well, I can’t say much about it because it’s nothing special really, but I have to say that there’s a really nice (and dark) bass “solo” in Torn Between Scylla And Charibdis. Talking about Torn Between Scylla And Charibdis, it’s probably the best song on the album, it’s filled with great riffs and solos, it’s quite epic in parts and it’s very catchy. The drumming is awesome, I don’t know much about drumming, but I love the drumming on this album, it sounds quite technical. The vocals aren’t great, I mean, they’re nothing special, but they’re far from bad. Matt Heafy still sounds like young James Hetfield, but I think that his (completely) clean voice got much better. Like I said earlier, there’s some screaming, but not THAT much, every song has like 2 or 3 screaming parts and all of the rest is like on The Crusade.
About the songs, there’s no bad song on this album, some are good, some are great and some are awesome. Into The Mouth Of Hell We March is almost as good as TBSAC! It’s very melodic, it has a lot of harmonized melodies, some of them remind of Maiden (the part at 2:29 reminds a bit of a part from Hallowed Be Thy Name for example), the verses are great and the choruses (especially the first one) are very catchy. Kirisute Gomen is one of the best songs on the album, it’s very thrashy ala Ignition (from The Crusade), it has a very memorable chorus and the part at 1:50 is just awesome! It’s the perfect opener because it really represents the whole sound of the album. Throes Of Perdition is very nice, it has a great heavy main riff that reminds a bit of the main riff from Dream Theater’s Panic Attack and it has a catchy chorus that is pretty radio friendly, it’s probably the most mainstream sounding part on the whole album, but it’s good anyway. The Calamity, He Who Spawned The Furies and Of Prometheus And The Crucifix are all great and have original and memorable choruses, I can’t really pick a favourite one out of them. I didn’t really like the title track at first, but now I love it, it’s the progressive song of the album, it’s very epic, it’s very catchy and the slow part is just awesome, it’s definitely something that could have been written by Dream Theater, well, the whole song could have been written by Dream Theater! Ok, it’s very far from a rip off, it doesn’t sound like Dream Theater THAT much, but some of the riffs remind of them and overall it’s almost as good as some of DT’s epics. Insurrection is very thrashy, it would have fitted well on The Crusade, the verses are pure thrash and they’re awesome! It’s chorus is catchy, but it’s definitely not one of the catchiest choruses on the album. Like Callisto To A Star In Heaven is the second weakest song on the album, but it’s still a good song with some nice heavy parts, there’s nothing else to add about it. Down From The Sky is the weakest one, it’s not bad, but it’s nothing special, it’s quite generic and the chorus is nowhere near as memorable as the choruses from most of the other songs. The screamed part before the chorus is pretty nice though.
I don’t really care about the production, but a lot of people do, so I’ll just say that it’s perfect! You can hear everything perfectly and every instrument sounds great. I would add more if I knew anything about the production terms.
Anyway, overall, it’s not perfect, it has some unoriginal parts, but it’s a GREAT album, it’s also a grower and I highly recommend it! I’m SURE that if it wasn’t a Trivium album, A LOT of metalheads would love it! Just put a sticker with another band’s name on the cover and I can assure you that your tr00 metalhead friend will love it. Remove the sticker and he will suddenly hate it. Anyway, it seems that they (Trivium) get better and better, so personally, I can’t wait for their next album, I expect something even better than this album!
Unbelievable! That is the only word that comes to mind when I hear this cd. Trivium have combined the best of their previous cd’s (Ember To Inferno, Ascendancy,and The Crusade)and have delivered BIG TIME the best elements of those three into Shogun. Guitars solos soar in and out with harmonic unison while the drums provide a steady, pummeling beat that locks the songs into place – sometimes I cannot believe just how young these guys are yet sound so professional and seasoned. My current favorite songs are “Down From The Sky” and “Into The Mouth Of Hell We March”.
First of all, this album should NOT be compared to The Crusade in such ways as saying its a step up or step down from it. Its really a hybrid album. Too many people are basing their opinions of Shogun by saying that its too intense compared to The Crusade and they miss the melody and singing on that album. Then still others are saying that The Crusade was a mistake of Trivium’s and this is a return to original form that Ascendancy introduced us to. I say both sides are wrong. This album is Ascendancy and The Crusade all in one, but even more in your face. As I said, hybrid album.
With Shogun, Trivium has mixed the melodic singing, lightning fast guitar work, and blistering drumming of The Crusade with the screaming, up in your business, heavy metal of Ascendancy. The combination is undeniably brutal. You get the best of both. Fans of The Crusade, which I admit I loved, will easily cling to the parts of songs where Matt Heafy is melodically chanting over speedy drum work and machine gun guitar riffs, but then its over as fast as it started and the vocals turn up a notch and the music becomes chunky and heavy while Heafy takes on demonic screams like those that riddled the Ascendancy album.
Highlights of the album:
— Great lyrics! Check out the lyrics to “Into The Mouth Of Hell We March” (Epic story in this song with lines like: “Spires of lightning thrown down from the gods! Skin melting even in the deluge!) and “Throes of Perdition”, another great story with great music accompanying it.
— The guitar solos are insane! Fast, original, and ear piercing. LOTS of harmonizing here.
— The drumming is top-notch. Travis Smith is easily my favorite metal drummer right now. BLAZING fast double bass work, and very original and masterfully built drum fills. Travis is really coming into his own.
— Long intricate songs. Tempo and feel changes throughout. Its sick! Most songs clock in at over 5 minutes, several are just shy of 5 minutes by mere seconds. The title track itself is nearly 12 mins long.
— The production is excellent. Amazing clarity. If you have a good set of headphones, listen with those. Smith’s tom fills seems to wrap around your head and the solo’s seem to start on one side of your head and travel through your skull sonically bouncing around inside until connecting with the other ear. Its wicked.
As a side note, even if you don’t like the album, you’ve got to at least admit the cover art is awesome. Ha Ha.
But seriously…SHOGUN HAS SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE:
1) If you’re into speedy licks, its here.
2) If you’re into in your face screaming, like many of you Ascendancy fans are, well, you’re gonna get it.
3) If you loved the melody of The Crusade but wished the intensity had been turned up a few notches, Shogun won’t disappoint.
4) If you’re a guitar solo junky, welcome home, this album delivers.
5) Even a few “epic” storylines to get lost in. You can practically envision the events unfolding in your mind as you listen.
Pick this album up, its hella cool.