Diligence and dedication seal legacies in stone. After two decades, eight albums, and hundreds of sold out shows, GRAMMY® Award-nominated Trivium actualize the all-encompassing ambition they first set in motion back in 1999. On their ninth full-length album, What The Dead Men Say [Roadrunner Records], the Florida quartet—Matt Heafy [vocals, guitar], Corey Beaulieu [guitar], Paolo Gregoletto [bass], and Alex Bent [drums]—ascend to an inimitable nexus of masterful melody, hypnotic hook-craft, tight thrash, metal scope, and cinematic extremity. Maximizing nonstop momentum and tireless commitment, the musicians sharpen every side of their signature style.
“Throughout our career, we’ve learned who we are,” exclaims Heafy. “Now, we’ve got it all dialed-in. What The Dead Men Say came together so efficiently and organically. It’s the result of all the time we’ve spent together as friends. We’ve found a really great place to exist in this world. We love melodic death metal, we love death and black metal, and we love hardcore. What The Dead Men Say is everything we do on one record. It will be straightforward at times, but it’s also super heavy and technical. It feels dense, but it’s incredibly short. We’re flexing our creative wings in a different way on every single song. To pour all of those facets into one record and make it work embodies what we are. We’ve been doing this for awhile now and we aren’t those same brash kids that made Ascendancy and talked a big game. We’ve honed our vision and craft. This band is our lives. This album is us. We all look forward to seeing where it goes from here.”
“To be on album number nine and have a chance to better ourselves and our music is humbling,” states Paolo. “We’ve put everything into Trivium in order for it to grow and sustain. It’s an honor for me to play with these guys. It’s exciting just to go out on stage and know they’re as into it as I am.”
Over the past twenty years, Trivium quietly claimed and clinched a place at the forefront of heavy music’s 21st century venerable vanguard. Recognized as canonical, Ascendancy closed out 2005 as KERRANG!’s “Album of the Year,” achieved a gold certification in the UK, and eclipsed sales of 500,000 worldwide. Metal Hammer placed it in the Top 15 of “The 100 Greatest Metal Albums of the 21st Century.” It ignited a string of six consecutive Top 25 debuts on the Billboard Top 200 and five straight Top 3 debuts on the Top Hard Rock Albums Chart, culminating on 2017’s benchmark The Sin and the Sentence. The album elevated the group’s total stream tally past a quarter-of-abillion.
Additionally, “Betrayer” received a GRAMMY® Award nomination in the category of “Best Metal Performance.” Unanimous acclaim followed from Decibel, Loudwire, Ultimate Guitar, MetalSucks, and Metal Hammer who dubbed them, “quite simply one of the best bands in modern metal.” Not to mention, they performed alongside Metallica, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, and many others and graced the main stages of Download, Bloodstock, KNOTFEST, and more.
During 2019, the musicians once again put their heads down and focused on the next chapter, giving birth to What The Dead Men Say. Without a time table, they carefully assembled ten tracks and spent countless hours on rehearsing and perfecting every element as a band. By the time they completed a month long pre-production session and entered the recording studio with The Sin and The Sentence producer Josh Wilbur [Lamb of God, Gojira], they reached unmatched proficiency, completing all tracking in under 16 days.
“We didn’t set foot into the studio until we knew and could play every single part as a group,” recalls Heafy. “We practiced the living hell out of it. The music was able to live and breathe with us. Josh fits right in. He doesn’t hold back what he feels, and we were so well prepared by the time we got there. We make our best records when we write the kind of music we feel is missing and we don’t stop until we can play it all front to back. That’s what happened here.”
“On The Sin and the Sentence, we hit the nail on the head,” Corey admits. “We found what works for our sound. After doing one record with Alex and Josh, we just wanted to take it further. We kept moving ahead.”
They kickstart this next chapter on the single “The Catastrophist.” Pummeling guitars anchor a weighty beat before clean verses swell into the wake of a sweeping and soaring refrain, “You’re a catastrophe.” Clocking in at under seven minutes, fleet-fingered soloing subsumes a deadly and distorted breakdown highlighted by emotional growls.
“It has so much of what we do in one song,” Heafy goes on. “There’s the black metal energy inspired part and some Eastern European Gypsy jazz scales. On the whole album, you can track our audible history melted into a cohesive whole.”
“I looked up what the word ‘Catastrophist’ means, and it’s one geological view of how the world has been shaped by very catastrophic and immediate changes,” says Paolo. “You can apply the same narrative to the C.E.O. of an oil company making decisions for profit, but ruining wildlife. You know it’s going to be a disaster, but you do it anyway. When you’re born, you have no say in the world you grow up in. You do as you get older though.”
The title track “What The Dead Men Say” steamrolls forward on a barrage of double bass before climaxing on one of the band’s most chantable hooks. Shredding and riffing abound as Trivium pull no punches.
Paolo goes on, “There was a short story Philip K. Dick released back in the late fifties with the same title. I just loved it. I was thinking about where I could go with the theme. It maps out being in between a state of life and death. You don’t really know what side you’re on. It goes through a 360-degree journey of emotions.”
“Paolo and I have an incredible creative relationship,” says Heafy. “It resembles that of a director and an actor. He wrote eighty percent of the lyrics for this one, so he helped me bring the words to life. I find my own connections to what he writes, and we work together.”
Elsewhere, “Scattering the Ashes” hinges on hummable guitar before bleeding into massive and magnetic melodies buoyed by rich backing vocals. “I took a trip with my family to spread the ashes of my grandparents,” Corey remembers. “It was really emotional. When I got back, I jotted the title down and started working on the song. The rest of the guys took it to the next level.”
The musicians captured inspiration anywhere and everywhere possible. Maintaining his presence as a sought-after Twitch streamer, Heafy often hashed out ideas on the guitar as he streamed. The genesis of “The Defiant” can be traced back to “streaming in a Hungary dressing room trailer at a festival.” Meanwhile, What The Dead Men Say closes on the furious gallop of “The Ones We Leave Behind” where final screams ring out triumphantly on a torrent of sonic bloodletting.
In the end, What The Dead Men Say represents all that Trivium have become and more. “I’d love for people to be inspired to pick up an instrument and write a song,” Heafy leaves off. “The reason I love metal is it goes against the grain. The best way to overcome darkness is to make something creative. Whether the impact is small or large, I hope it’s positive for listeners. We hopefully built a community to make them feel safe where they can talk about what they want, enjoy it, and get help if they need it. It’s possible to even find a lot of love and light in there.”
“Music has always been such a powerful thing to me,” Paolo concludes. “We view it with the same awe we did as kids. On the surface level, I hope everybody enjoys the riffs, but there’s a catharsis just a little deeper. We try to share that.”— Rick Florino, January 2020