Witness to the Downfall
With the recent surge of bands playing music in the veins of “modern” metal (no thanks to bands like In Flames and Soilwork) enters Trials with their debut album, Witness to the Downfall. Bands like Icon In Me have largely left me disappointed with their recent outputs, so it would be up to Trials to change my mind and impression about modern thrash metal bands.
Praise introduces listeners to a promising opening riff, with low spoken vocals in the background, bringing listeners to a climax before letting all hell break loose. However, all hopes for a powerful crushing riff and drum roll to overpower the listener are lost as soon as vocalist Mark goes into his clean vocals mode, sounding almost like a Matt Heafy (Trivium) clone. However, Mark’s growls and shouts are decent, though at times they sound almost uninspired. This alternating between clean and growled vocals make the band sound unintentionally metalcore-ish, and this has been the main bane of the album, even after numerous listens.
Credits are due where they are though, as each of band members are extremely talented on their individual instruments, evident on the complex riffs that are unleashed by axe-wielding duo Remy and Mark. The pinch-harmonics infused riffing on songs like Powerless is just one of the many examples of the abilities of the guitarists. On Kingdom, there is even an almost Opeth‘s Deliverance-like riff that runs throughout the track, emphasising the urgency in the music. The hardcore influences are also shown on tracks like Declaration with the incorporation of breakdown riffs on the songs, yet another personal pet peeve of mine. Fortunately such moments are few enough to not affect the overall quality of the music.
Drummer Adam also shows off his chops, yet somehow he sounds almost restrained, not unleashing what he is truly capable of until towards the later part of the album where blastbeats of all forms appear. The drumming style and the tone of the drums are tuned in such a way that they sound almost like the band is paying homage to Soilwork. The band sounds especially powerful on This is Starvation, with the powerful crushing riffs backed by the relentless pounding on the skins, topped by the aggressive growls of Mark. On this song though, the first instance of Mark’s cleans are more acceptable as he attempts a more gruff style of singing, unlike the almost-emo moments on most of the other tracks, though he spoils the thing again on the second half of the song.
Overall, while the music is top-notch and enjoyable (there are many headbang-able moments throughout the album), the main thing that would have made Witness to the Downfall a solid release would be the reduced usage (or better, without) of clean vocals as they spoil many a powerful moment in the album.