You may recall my post about Trivium's previous album, "The Crusade", and how impressed I was with it. Needless to say the quality of metal on that CD had my expectations set pretty high for their follow-up, "Shogun". Should I have worried about a potential letdown? Would they have set an example too tough to follow for themselves?
What may be the most significant point of this album (on a personal level) is the fact that it has changed my opinion of the metalcore sub-genre. I feel like "The Crusade" hooked me with how much it resembled classic/thrash metal, with Matt Heafy primarily using his mid range and melodic vocal style while his screaming was used sparingly. Now, as a new fan hearing "Shogun", Heafy embraces the metalcore-screams with a fresh vigor and crams it down listeners' throats, while still retaining enough melodic vocal elements to keep listeners like me (more fond of classic metal, and not really into metalcore) captivated by the songs on this album. I am tempted to say that Matt Heafy is like James Hetfield and Phil Anselmo rolled into one. It is an interesting mix of vocal styles, switching back and forth several times within songs, making the overall listening experience quite satisfying for most headbangers. There are some places throughout the album where Heafy layers several vocal tracks on top of each other, sometimes blending as many as 3 different vocal styles at once!
Finally I must mention that the technical skill of Matt Heafy's and Corey Beaulieu's guitar soloing has remained consistent as well, if not improved. I believe I mentioned my love for Trivium's guitar solos on my previous review, but it deserves reiterating here. Again Trivium's influence from the golden era of thrash metal is blatantly apparent in their soloing techniques. Beaulieu & Heafy trade off solos back and forth in artful tandem like many thrash metal guitarists before them. They make their guitars shred like the original thrashers used to... I'm reminded of albums like "Peace Sells", "Ride the Lightning", "Rust In Peace" just to give you a little hint of what to expect...
Now for my recommended tracks for Shogun:
-Down From The Sky
-Into The Mouth Of Hell We March
-Of Prometheus And The Crucifix
-Shogun (this epic track showcases a little bit of every side of Trivium's music; from dark, clean melodies to furious shred-fests, this song has it all...)