Roadrunner, 2020

Heavy metal/Metalcore

This past week, metal was only a few albums away from being literally half of the new releases I listened to. Given that ratio, it seemed fitting to review a metal album. Choosing what to review was surprisingly difficult as there were more than a couple releases that stood out for different reasons. I finally landed on Trivium for a few reasons, and I’d be lying if I said one of them wasn’t the fact that you’re more likely to click on an article with Trivium in the title than you are one with Sölicitör or Warbringer.

Another thing that I will admit is that I went into this album without the highest expectations. I know that Matt Heafy and the other guys in the band are all solid dudes, but Trivium is a metalcore band that broke out and gained popularity while I was in high school. Most bands that fit that description aren’t making the best music this far along in their career, especially ones that got as big as Trivium. They’re usually making very safe but ultimately bland music that will satisfy longtime fans, but won’t do much beyond that. So that’s pretty much what I expected when I hit play on What the Dead Men Say, and boy was I wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong.

One of the first things you notice is that this album just feels tight and lean, not just in size, but in sound and structure. Guitarist Corey Beaulieu told Loudwire that this album came out of “a highly-inspired and fast-paced writing and recording process…” and you can feel that urgency in these songs. There’s no real fluff here, no grand arrangements; just four guys making some badass metal music. There’s nothing particularly groundbreaking, but that’s by design. Matt Heafy said in the same Loudwire article that this album “is everything that is Trivium.” To use an automotive metaphor, Trivium doesn’t need to reinvent the wheel because they’re like a company like Enkei or BBS; they’re just really damn good at making wheels.

This translates to every single song having at least one attention-grabbing moment. This is still metalcore music, but it doesn’t have the tropes and cliches of the genre that other bands fall prey to. They also pull off the very impressive feat of having not one, but two songs that are 6+ minutes long and not boring. “Catastrophist” in particular plays almost like a prog metal track, switching up its riff structures and rhythms to keep things interesting. Even slower songs come and go without overstaying their welcome. The albums is also lyrically relevant with one song coming across as anti-war and a few others being about marginalized people and standing up to those who take advantage of them. And going back to “Catastrophist,” while Heafy doesn’t really give any details, it’s not hard to see similarities between the catastrophist in the song and a certain public figure.

As much as this album surprised me and as much as I enjoyed it, there are things that I think could be better. Despite being very good metalcore, there was never really a “wow” moment for me. There was nothing that stopped me in my tracks while I was listening. Second, while there are songs that touch on heavy and relevant subjects, there are moments where the lyrical content can get a little light. And there’s even a track where the second verse is a repeat of the first. Finally, I have a little nitpick where I wish the guitar tone and mixing was a little beefier. It felt like it just lacked that lower end that gets you hooked into the riffs.

Overall though, this is a very impressive album. To have a metalcore band this far in their career release an album that can hold my attention with no fluff or filler is quite an accomplishment. Trivium have been honing their skills for nearly two decades and What the Dead Men Say is a good example of how that hard work can pay off. Trivium is good at what they do, but they don’t use that as an excuse to get lazy. There are aspects of the album that I think could have used a little more spice or something, but otherwise it’s a very solid release.





self released, 2018/2020 (re-release)

Heavy Metal/Progressive/Thrash

I think it’s about time we’ve had another metal review. I haven’t published a full review of a metal album since Black Friday after all. Anyway, for the first metal review of 2020, we’re going to pull out something nice and underground for you. Today we’re looking at the latest from Lostpray, an EP called Priestianity, originally released in 2018, but re-released to digital platforms just last week after some distribution troubles.

Lostpray are a Ukrainian band with vocalist and guitarist Burak Gundogdu coming originally from Istanbul. The group plays a form of heavy metal that is unique yet accessible and progressive without being pretentious. Their riffs are clearly inspired by thrash, but they are shooting for a more polished, modern sound. And they only come close to thrash’s blistering speed on one of the four tracks on this EP. Lostpray also take a progressive approach to their songwriting by giving their songs varying movements rather than packing in moments of dense solos.

Another thing they bring from a more progressive side is long-ish songs. This EP only has four tracks, but the total runtime is around 25 minutes because each song is over six minutes long. But the impressive thing is that none of these songs feel like they’re six minutes long. They all end at just the right time. A couple even feel like they could go a little longer without overstaying their welcome. One more thing I want to mention that gives Lostpray that extra little bit of uniqueness is the Turkish influence that Gundogdu works into his vocal melodies. But this isn’t a heavy-handed gimmick like other bands that claim an Arabic or Middle Eastern influence. These are tasteful little hints that keep the vocals from sounding like generic alternative metal.

Lyrically, things are a little cryptic as metal bands tend to be at times. But I can pick up on a couple themes. Specifically they seem to be criticizing conformity and beliefs that unite people through fear and hate. They never name anything specifically, but it’s not hard to guess what they’re implying considering the title of the EP and its artwork. Sonically, the EP is pretty impressive considering it’s self-released. The electric guitar tones in particular are satisfyingly heavy. I do wish the drums and bass had a little more punch at times, but they still sound better than some major releases I’ve heard.

Overall, I think that Priestianity is a very promising taste of what Lostpray are capable of. They are clearly a talented band with an ability to combine their interests and influences into a sound that’s unique but could potentially have massive appeal. But that mainstream tendency is also a slight weakness. Personally, I would have liked certain parts to be a little more aggressive. Also, on a longer release, I would want a bit more variety, but what Lostpray have put together here works very well in this smaller, 25 minute package.


*this review was written in association with Metalhead Community*