When Trivium released their third album, 2006's The Crusade, it was immediately condemned by the metal elite, as it marked a drastic change in style for the Floridian thrashers. Most of the band's critics took issue with frontman Matt Heafy's decision to ditch the high, raspy screams he'd become known for. The singer took a more melodic vocal approach, which the band's detractors disparaged as sounding too James Hetfield-like.
Of course, Heafy, a self-professed Metallica fanboy, absorbed that criticism, but claims he didn't take it into the writing and recording sessions for Trivium's next studio offering, Shogun, which hits stores September 30.
"I knew it was going to turn heads and that it was going to make a statement, and we really appreciate that," Heafy said of his decision to go clean on The Crusade. "We've always been a band that's had things about us and things that are going on that creates big, bold waves, and what's so weird about the perception of The Crusade is we wanted to show people that we're not just a band that's going to stick to the same formula every time. On that record, we accomplished our main goal, and that was to make it the exact opposite of [2005's] Ascendancy. We didn't want to do anything that happened on that record on the next one, but we still wanted to keep it us, because we feel we're a band that can broaden its sound and not just stick with one thing. It was still metal, and it was still Trivium, just different and diversified."
And while Heafy defends the decision to switch to clean vocals for The Crusade, he has reverted to his old ways. In fact, Heafy screams more on Shogun than he ever has — but he sings more on it, too.
"With this new record, it basically summarizes everything we feel we've done right as a band, that we feel are key ingredients of Trivium, all rolled into one, with a new direction on top of it," he explained. "So, it does have a little bit of everything we've done, and some more. It has as much singing on it as The Crusade, but it has just as much, if not more, screaming than Ascendancy. The songs are longer, and there are more vocal parts. So, I do everything from the lowest possible singing notes I can do to the highest [Rob] Halford-wannabe notes, and everything in between, and the same goes for all the screaming, because we felt the music called for that stuff.
"With The Crusade, we were done with screaming — done with bands that did it, done with doing it ourselves," he continued. "We just didn't want to do it anymore. But when we started jamming for Shogun, and we heard how brutal and heavy some of the stuff was — it's the heaviest sh-- we've ever done before — we tried singing over it, and it wasn't right. What was it missing? The screaming, and that's exactly what it needed."
For Shogun, Trivium decided against working with longtime producer Jason Suecof (All That Remains, God Forbid) and instead enlisted Foo Fighters producer Nick Raskulinecz, who, Heafy said, brought a new energy to the songs.
"We decided to take an old-school approach to the record, using new-school technology, purely for convenience, because tape takes so f---ing long to record with," he said. "Nick made us play this record. The way metal is done these days, you track it a couple of times, make sure its perfect, and then you go in and fix a couple of the pieces — retrigger the guitars and drums. That's just the way it is. But we wanted to go back to the old-school way — record everything right, with no triggers on our drums. We had to make sure the performance was there and the energy was there, and hearing the end result, the stuff Nick drew out of us is just unreal. In terms of heaviness and brutality, it's the best thing we've done. Before, we'd never really considered ourselves a contender for even the word 'heavy' or 'brutal,' but this time, things are different."
Heafy said the new disc incorporates elements of death, thrash and extreme metal — "just a big combination of everything we'd loved as kids" — and that it's evidence of the progression the band's taken with its sound.
"Everyone we've played it for, they're all really excited about it," he said. "I think we've found our sound. We've just discovered it, and with the next one, I think we'll define it. It takes a band a little while to find their sound. Some bands get it on the first record, and some bands it takes several. I think we're one of those bands that's going to develop and fully come into our sound someday. We don't know what record that will be, but this record is even closer to what it's going to be."
This fall, Trivium will be heading out with All That Remains, 36 Crazyfists and the Human Abstract, for a tour that's set to launch September 9 in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. After that, Heafy said, the band will hit the international circuit before returning to the States next year for Slayer's Unholy Alliance Tour. He said that as far as he knows, it's coming back and "we'll probably be on it."
The rest of the week's metal news:
Unearth have completed recording their new album, The March. It'll be in stores on October 14 and was produced by Killswitch Engage's Adam Dutkiewicz. Look for the LP to feature 10 new cuts, including "Crow Killer," "We Are Not Anonymous" and "Truth or Consequence."
Overcast , the band Brian Fair was in before Shadows Fall, has posted a track called "Root Bound Apollo" over on their MySpace page. The song comes from the band's re-recorded collection of old material, Reborn to Kill Again, which hits stores August 19.
According to Metal Injection, Lamb of God plan to enter the studio next month to begin recording the follow-up to 2006's Sacrament.
For Today, Dr. Acula and With Dead Hands Rising will be touring together next month. The first date's been set for September 1 in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and the trek runs through September 24 in San Antonio, Texas.
Hatebreed, Soilent Green, Emmure, War of Ages and Catalepsy will be touring together next month too. That jaunt starts in Detroit on September 2, and dates are scheduled through September 14 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
The lineup's been set for the sixth annual Robot Mosh Fest, which takes over Country Skate in West Bend, Wisconsin, this weekend. Taking the stage August 2 will be A Life Once Lost, the Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza and With Dead Hands Rising, while Darkest Hour, Misery Signals, Winds of Plague, Arsis and Arsonists Get All the Girls play August 3.