Sound — 9
Shogun is Trivium's fourth studio album. In the words of vocalist and guitarist Matt Heafy, he described the album's musical direction as a combination of various aspects including: "the past, present, and future of Trivium, all on one CD" and that is the "next evolutionary step" in the band's sound. The album has everything that you come to expect from Trivium, and more. It really is like a culmination of all of their previous work into one album. There is of course the melodic singing and harsh screams of Matt Heafy, interesting and thought provoking lyrics, insane guitar work, very fast and complex double bass drumming, and the occasional bass solo. The album starts off with a nice acoustic guitar part on the song "Kirisute Gomen", the first song released from the album. The track is a very good one. After the acoustic part there is an excellent, almost tribal drum beat, which leads into an odd guitar riff. The riff seems as if it is going nowhere, and right before you start to wonder what is going on Matt Heafy yells out, "he who walks the fire breaths," and then heavy guitars and insane, death metal like drums ensue, setting the pace for the entire album. The next track, "Torn Between Scylla and Charybdis" has a beautiful and unique guitar intro. Almost sounds like something out of an old school Megaman game. It's really interesting, and the main riff is also excellent. Some harsh vocals are balanced with some great clean vocals, which leads to an amazing solo followed by a nice bass solo, followed by another amazing guitar solo. A great track and one of my favorites on the album. "Down From The Sky", the 3rd song and lead single, is very good. The music video for it is also great, check it out. It has such an uplifting chorus, and the breakdown is just downright brutal. The last song and title track, "Shogun", is just unbelievable. It really is epic. I won't spoil it for you, just listen. It's almost 12 minutes long and the song is really diverse and spans a few genres. The album is fairly unique, and brings a lot to the table. The guitar work is just so great, and they have become quite adept at using that whammy bar. There are solos on every song, and they are all great. Bass solo on "Torn Between Scylla And Charybdis", great drumming, particularly on the song "Kirisute Gomen". Trivium improve their skills with each album, and they've become such amazing musicians. It's cool how the vocal melody in the bridge of the song "Shogun" which is the last song on the album, matches the melody of the aforementioned acoustic intro on the first song "Kirisute Gomen." The album ends the way it begins. Brilliant.
Lyrics — 9
The lyrics on the album are very strong, Heafy has a way with words. Some of the lyrics tie into other songs. After the bridge and solo section of "Into the Mouth of Hell We March", the lyrics "Now you see for it is we who walk the fire and breathe" are sung. This is a lyrical reference to the previous Trivium single, "Kirisute Gomen", in which "He who walks the fire, breathes" is the song subject. The song "Of Prometheus and the Crucifix" has a great chorus,"I feel it tear out my insides. A pain so heavy I could collapse. I feel it just may kill me. I must brave through this storm." The lyrics to the entire title track are amazing, and all throughout the album they are very good. Similar to The Crusade which had some songs focusing on famous and controversial murders/crimes, the album has a few songs that deal with ancient Japanese/Greek Mythology. The songs usually have hidden meanings which are to be interpreted by the listener. Themes based on the stories of Prometheus's punishment, Sea monsters Scylla and Charybdis, and the nymph Callisto are present. A wide variety of topics are covered. Of course, the manner in which the lyrics are delivered is very important. Heafy screams frequently again, bringing back an element that was lacking in their last album, "The Crusade." Heafy has really matured as a vocalist, and his voice has gotten really good. Some great melodic work on songs like "Shogun", "Into The Mouth of Hell We March", "The Calamity," and "Of Prometheus and the Crucifix." He has certainly improved his range greatly, his screams are back, he has some great melodic work, and even some interesting low pitched vocals like the breakdown to "Down From The Sky", and the intro to "He Who Spawned The Furies". There could be a little more vocal range, however, and is something that they should continue to work on with Matt.
Overall Impression — 10
This album is like a combination of all of Trivium's work combined, all into one album, plus a little something new. It may be their masterpiece, a great piece of work. One of the more unique metal albums out there. I love the great vocal melodies balanced with the harsh vocals, and of course, the amazing guitar work Trivium is known for. They could be slightly even more creative, as every song has some screaming and some singing, and every song has a guitar solo. Maybe mix it up a little bit, and Matt should continue to improve upon his vocal range even more. Other than that, just an amazing album from the guys. It's hard to pick favorites, as every song is good, but my 5 favorites in no exact order would be: 1) Shogun 2) Torn Between Scylla And Charybdis 3) Of Prometheus And The Crucifix 4) The Calamity 5) Into The Mouth of Hell We March Honorable mentions to "Kirisute Gomen" and "Down From The Sky."