Over the past few decades, the form of music we all love has been divided into a million sub-genres that it’s so hard to describe to a newcomer what particular bands even sound like. Doom, black metal, death metal, post-metal, sludge, power metal, folk metal. Everything gets its own granular classification, and there seems to be a million different ways to play this music.
But what about tried-and-true traditional heavy metal? That’s still a thing, right? You know, the stuff bands such as Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Helloween, Mercyful Fate, and so many others played over the years? It’s still out there, and bands try and fail to revive the classic form of metal all the time with varying degrees of success. It’s always nice when a new band comes along and shows the chops and understanding to stand alongside the pioneers in keeping the spirit of metal alive, and one of those has emerged with Sweden’s Trial. These guys are on the High Roller label, who have a whole host of groups that play the traditional style of metal, and they show a hell of a lot of promise on their thunderous second record “Vessel.”
Every member of this band is solid and has a huge hand in what makes their approach so effective. But vocalist Linus Johansson is the driver of this thing with his powerful vocals, that remind me of a mix of Michael Kiske and King Diamond (when this guy goes into his high-register repertoire, that is). The singing is emotional and packs a punch, and he’s an outright joy to hear on these seven cuts. Again, let’s not count out the rest of the band, who are tremendous in their own right, as Alexander Ellstrom and Andreas Johnsson handle guitars, Andreas Olsson is on bass, and Martin Svensson is behind the drum kit. You can hear they mean every moment of this thing, raging and bursting through these seven cuts, and they keep the traditional metal fires blazing in a way that should warm any longtime listener’s heart.
The opening title track is the shortest of the bunch, with the band setting the stage mostly, with your initial introduction to their power and strong singing that is pretty sweltering. Then it’s into the rousing “To New Ends” that erupts right out of the gate and does an awesome job galloping and stampeding towards its destination. The pace is fast and could get your blood really moving, while Johansson’s singing just bursts with life. I can’t say enough about the guitar leads as well, as they tear through everything and illuminate the entire terrain in front of them. Killer song and awesome performances all around. “Ecstasy Waltz” has a punchy open before it settles into mid tempo and starts its storytelling. The verses are a little slower, though they’re met by crunchier sections during the chorus, and there is a great build to the drama, keeping you tuned in and following each step. The cuts gets a little darker in its last stretch, with insanely high vocals piercing the calm and a cool, trippy finish closing the door. “Through Bewilderment” charges and is mashing and heavy from the outset. The leads dominate, with Johansson commanding out in front, but then the mood changes with dark slide guitar slipping in and settling the tempo. Some power re-emerges before all is said and done, but then acoustics return, take over, and pull the cut to its finish.
“A Ruined World” stomps from the start, and it’s arguably the heaviest track on the record. The vocals are tremendous and stand as the dominant element of the song, and again, some darkness enters and lets the band show a bit of the uglier side. The song kicks into high gear as it winds down, with the guitars absolutely killing and the vocals hitting near operatic range. “Where Men Become All” is a different one. Thick bass emerges and begins to bloody things, but then quieter guitars kick in, followed by soulful singing that bursts with passion. The song surges and burns, playing around with tempos, with whispery vocals slipping in and the band turning up the power in the final minutes. Closer “Restless Blood” is a 13:11-long epic, beginning calm and collected before ultimately blasting open. This is a massive dose of energy here, with every element playing a giant role in its hugeness and the song itself proving just how impressive these guys can be as creators. The cut eventually slows down, with some of Johansson’s more pulled-back, hushed singing, which is quite the departure from his usual approach. The last quarter of the song lets the guys go on the assault again, as everything sounds like a machine heading toward breaking down a castle wall, the vocals register unfathomable wails, and the closing minutes are full of blazing fury and colorful playing. What a huge exclamation mark!
This is a damn fun record that makes me think back to my early days as a metal fan and what made me want to follow this style of music in the first place. Trial are not here to be tough guys or to out-brutalize anyone or to do anything other than the play the music they love with enthusiasm and passion. “Vessel” is a great effort that should please those who grew up on a diet of Maiden and Mercyful Fate and just want a record that makes their passion burn brightly again. This record does that, and it’s a great next step for this band.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/TrialHeavyMetal
To buy the album, go here: http://www.hrrshop.de/
For more on the label, go here: http://www.hrrecords.de/