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Trial - Motherless

by Anna Chase at 03 July 2017, 1:26 PM

It’s always a good sign when a band is associated with Metal Blade Records- they’re one of the top labels in the Rock and Metal community, and anything they sign their name on is polished and professional. One of their bands, TRIAL, isn’t widely known like some of Metal Blade’s other projects- namely AMON AMARTH, CATTLE DECAPITATION, etc.- but the raw talent is still there in bounds. TRIAL are from Sweden, and formed in 2007. However, they didn’t really take off in popularity until frontman Linus Johansson joined in 2009. Shortly after that, the group released their first demo, and since then have been cranking out full-length albums at a rapid-fire pace (three in six years!) After receiving glowing reviews of their 2015 album “Vessel,” the band began to tour more, and with bigger names in metal: for example, their next show is with major European thrashers ARTILLERY and STORMDEATH. The band has high expectations for their newest album, “Motherless,” which was released in April of 2017. “We knew from there on that we were onto something rather special, we felt it in our bones," they said in regards to their newest work, “and we are extremely eager to share this with all of you!"

The first track, “Motherless,” has a slightly medieval feel to it, at least at first. Johansson’s vocals are soaring and obviously influenced by older NWOBHM-esque wails, and along that same root, the guitar riffs sound remarkably similar in style to those of IRON MAIDEN. The drum work does add a heavier element, however, and especially in this song it ends up being a mix of Prog, Melodic Death, and traditional Heavy Metal. “In Empyrean Labour” is more tranquil and rhythmic in tone, and definitely had a toned-down Folk Metal vibe- lighter than groups like KORPIKLAANI. Though this song initially seemed a bit disjointed to me, the guitar riffs in particular demonstrated the group’s technical talent. Both Johnsson and Ellström show their musical prowess here through bubbling riffs and rapid-fire solos. “Cold Comes the Night” was definitely one of my favorite songs on the album- though it’s a single, I definitely got a sense of who the band are in this one. The song had an old-school Heavy Metal tone, and honestly what impressed me the most was the sheer energy they conveyed here as the group pounded out four and a half minutes of powerful guitar riffs and aggressive drumbeats. The tumbling solo in this song clicked into place well with the rest of the elements, too, and joined everything together into one cohesive piece. In “Juxtaposed,” the band introduces acoustic guitar as a new and unique element- however, despite the effort to add something new, this song dragged a little for me. There were a lot of solid Progressive elements here, but in general the same energy just wasn’t there. This song in particular seemed disjointed and definitely overused ambient riffs, which made the whole piece confusing to listen to.

“Aligerous Architect” keeps the same acoustic guitar in the intro, but then drops into a blast beat and gritty electric riffs. The most stand-out element in this track is definitely the rhythm- TRIAL has an incredibly strong sense for percussion, and the drums constantly return to unify the tracks with a steady beat. The guitar work here is also jaw-dropping- the speed achieved in the solo is almost inhuman and gives the whole track a wow factor. “Birth” is an interesting song. That’s really the only way to describe it. The bleak, raw drum intro both builds suspense and gives the entire track a darker tone, and the echoing, floating vocals almost make it seem like the ghost of another song. While it didn’t have any of the flashy, fast-paced solos or fills, the spine-chilling atmosphere of the track overall made it one of the most memorable on the album. In “Embodiment,” the tracks return to the band’s more familiar brand of traditional Heavy Metal. This is a long song- over nine minutes- and I have to say, I’ve never been an advocate of unnecessarily long songs. Drawing a song out to almost ten minutes does nothing but lose the listener’s attention and make the song repetitive. This track was musically solid, and created wonderful complexity in the blend of different melodies and rhythms. However, I just didn’t think that the added length added anything, and in fact took away from the energy of the song overall.

The last track, “Rebirth,” was slightly melancholy and followed the implementation of the acoustic intros that the band used in previous songs. The most shocking part of this song, though, was hearing Johansson’s clean vocals. He’s not just a Heavy Metal wailer- the guy really has an incredible voice and range, and while I didn’t love this song, I truly enjoyed hearing the versatility of his voice. Again, this song was technically faultless, but just seemed like a rather passive and lackluster end to such an energy-filled album. In general, I admire TRIAL’s quite obvious musical talent and expertise, and they had some songs on this album that were absolutely electrifying. However, the tracks often seemed a bit incongruous, and their particular style of somewhat fragmented, ambient mix of riffs can blend together and make it hard for individual songs to gain recognition. That’s not to say that they’re incapable of writing a good song, though, and given the success of their previous albums, I have high hopes for them in the future.

Songwriting: 8
Originality: 6
Memorability: 5
Production: 8

3 Star Rating

1. Motherless
2. In Empyrean Labour
3. Cold Comes the Night
4. Juxtaposed
5. Aligerous Architect
6. Birth
7. Embodiment
8. Rebirth
Andréas Olsson - Bass
Martin Svensson - Drums
Alexander Ellström - Guitar (acoustic and electric)
Andreas Johnsson - Guitar
Linus Johansson - Vocals
Record Label: Metal Blade Records


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