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Roadrunner (2008)
Rating: 6.5/10

Continuing with 2008’s slew of big name releases, comes Trivium’s fourth studio album, Shogun. While this fairly young Florida band has been the subject of a lot of criticism from hard music purists, Shogun debuted at number 23 on the Billboard Hot 200 Albums Chart, so they must be connecting with someone out there!

The effort was produced by Nick Raskulinecz and mixed by the legendary Colin Richardson. The album mixes elements of the band’s trendy sounding debut with the harsh rawness of their second album, creating a pretty easy to digest blend of old and new.

Shogun is the first solid effort from Trivium in my opinion. For me there is a certain ideological way to become a purveyor of heavy music and bands like Trivium don’t fit the bill. Having been into this genre of music since I was very young, it’s hard to overcome the pre-conceived notions but Trivium does a job of reminding me of my biases, just as they did on their last album.

When we last heard from Trivium they were desperately trying to channel a young Metallica (and were doing well at it). This time around though the band sound bigger and meaner (channeling a later era Metallica?) but also more technically proficient and a whole lot more intellectual. Shogun is chock full of well-written songs that embrace both the band’s age and influences.

‘Into The Mouth Of Hell We March’ is probably the best example. It’s soaring and epic and even manages to sound frustrated in all the right places. The over-the-top vocal and guitar melodies hit all the right sweet spots and the slick production really bring them to life. Honestly, Trivium make you work hard to deny how good this song actually is.

Other highlights include the angry march of ‘Insurrection’, wherein the band has to choose whether to invite you to join their army or trample you; thankfully they chose the former. The really epic numbers seem to call to the listener the most though. ‘Of Prometheus And The Crucifix’ and the perhaps overly complicated title track (which brings the album to a close while clocking in at more than 12 minutes) are certainly songs that fans of anthemic, intelligent and multifaceted music can sink their teeth into.

Overall, this is another step in the right direction for this band. Trivium lacks the same thing here as they have always lacked, which is originality. Everything sounds borrowed, but since it is played and produced so well it’s easier to take in. These guys have all the right influences and the right label behind them and I can’t help but think the best is yet to come. When all is said and done, Shogun is a good effort with some great moments. That said, if you don’t listen to a lot of hard music then this may appeal even more to you as it will sound a lot fresher in your ears.

Mark Fisher

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