Switching vocalists is a major deal in any form of music. As much as the music part matters, and it truly does, the voice out front also is critical because it can either make or break what you’re trying to do. Look at Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, and Cannibal Corpse in their formative years. Changing that voice pushed them to new dimensions. Of course, Maiden and Priest made late changes as well that dunked their popularity into the doldrums, so it doesn’t always work.
As for Swedish heavy metal power Trial (swe), they made a change of frontman since their last record, 2017’s “Motherless,” replacing Linus Johansson with Air Raid singer Arthur W. Andersson, and it has made every difference in the world. There was nothing wrong with the band and their former vocalist at all. They made epic, meaty records that definitely had an impact and still sound great today. But the band’s new record “Feed the Fire,” their fourth, is something altogether different. This thing just booms with energy and enthusiasm, a massive record that engulfs you from moment one, takes you on roller coaster rides of emotions, and makes the blood race through your veins. The band—it’s rounded out by guitarists Alexander Ellström and Andreas Johnsson, bassist Andréas Olsson, drummer Martin Svensson—breathe incredible new life and push themselves to a new level, where they have found a special formula that blasts them into the stratosphere. This album is a total fucking blast.
“Tria Prima” is a proper introduction to this record, a quick instrumental that dawns like the morning light hitting your eyes, and then we head into “Sulphery” that ignites and absolutely gallops. Andersson’s impact is felt immediately as he brings a new element to the band, a siren of a voice that is full of emotion and fire, which is no knock on the departed Johansson. The dual guitars are razor sharp, the chorus explodes in your chest, and a huge flurry stabs an exclamation point at the end. “Thrice Great Path” is my personal favorite track here, and it starts a little darker before the fires engulf, the vocals absolutely going off. “Those who see, those who wonder,” Andersson wails, filling you with energy, as incredible dual guitars swallow you whole, ending everything in excitement. “In the Highest” explodes as the leads race breathlessly, and Andersson’s singing manages an even higher octave, which seems hard to fathom. Another huge chorus smokes, the tempo pushes and pulls, and the guitar work causes every drop of blood in your body to electrify. “Snare of the Fowler” is a nice treat as it features At the Gates frontman Tomas Lindberg who adds a nastier side to this one. The track slowly unfurls before things get speedier and infectious, the verses swagger, and then that familiar voice howls, “Go!” Lindberg’s vocals lash out and draw blood, and the fluid soloing adds even more electricity, blasting into the sky.
The deliriously catchy title track starts with a capella group singing the chorus, and then it’s onto rousing power that accelerates your heartbeat, but in a way that’ll make you feel alive. “It takes a lot to feed the fire,” Andersson calls as the guitars glimmer with life, jolting and jostling, delivering metallic crunch that jars your entire body. “The Faustus Hood” operates in the shadows, and the playing is more mid-tempo, as least for Trial (swe). Some of the guitar work feels like it feeds from folkish streams even in its electrified form, and it’s definitely the oddball of the record, which I mean in an affectionate way. The diversity is refreshing, and the final moments soar among the clouds, ending on a spirited note. “Quadrivium” fires up right away, landing punches as the verses explode with passion, the chorus once again blackening eyes. Later, the guitars have a battle of their own, dueling back and forth and giving a performance that’s riveting and flattening, fading into the horizon. Closer “The Crystal Sea” is the longest track, running 9:17 and feeling like an epic storyteller, something at which they prove quite capable. The track takes its time to build an atmosphere, and once it does, the colors dash across the sky, the earth begins to quake. The playing brings excitement but also doesn’t blow itself up, following the pace and letting the wings unfurl. Andersson’s singing digs deep, weaving tales and belting with energy, and that matches the force created by the rest of the band. It’s a satisfying ending to a great collection that has so many high points, it’s impossible to capture them all here.
Trial (swe) wasn’t really a band hurting for forward mobility, but bringing in Andersson as the new vocalist awakened something inside them, and “Feed the Fire” is an excellent record that could not have been more aptly named. This album takes them from a band with a strong grasp of pure heavy metal to something really exceptional that can transcend and swell their audience. This is this band’s finest hour, a record that we all may look back on one day as the first building block to something greater.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/TrialHeavyMetal
To buy the album, go here: https://www.indiemerch.com/metalbladerecords
For more on the label, go here: https://www.metalblade.com/us/