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Trials - In the Shadow of Swords

Label: Independent
Format: CD download
Released: 2013
Reviewed By: Jack Mangan
Rating: 8/ 10

Note: We recently posted a review of Trials' 2011 album, "Witness to the Downfall", here at the Asylum. A band rep was quick to point out that our review was a bit dated, and to provide a copy of their latest release, "In the Shadow of Swords." Their diligence is appreciated!


So, my final statement about Trials' debut album, "Witness to the Downfall," reads: "I'm sure there's more good stuff to come." Wow, it's nice to be right (doesn't happen that often). Their follow-up, "In the Shadow of Swords," is a strong leap forward, significantly expanding the diversity, maturity, and scope of the bands' sound and songcraft. Mark Sugar's vocals have developed in a multitude of ways, moving on from the Phil Anselmo impression of the first album, simultaneously coming with a harsher growling brutality and a purer clean sound.

The thrash riffage par excellence continues on album number two, but with far more consistency than the first, and with far fewer extraneous tracks. That's not to say that this album is devoid of filler, just that the filler is sparse. Like Sugar's vocals, the album's tone has paradoxically delved into heavier territory, while simultaneously presenting more melodic and hard rock radio accessible moments. All of the styles are delivered with equal proficiency, but the album's shining moment may be ‘Upon This Day’, probably its least abrasive track. The blend of crunch, arpeggio, and harmonized vocals reveals a promising, talented band who (hopefully) will continue to grow into a factory for intelligently-written, strongly riffed songs. Trials' two best are still ‘This Is Starvation’ and ‘Shadows and Traps’ from the first disc. For album three, I'd love to see them blend the consistency of "Swords" with the heights attained with the best of "Witness."

In addition to ‘Upon This Day’, recommended "In the Shadow of Swords" tracks are ‘All The Promises’, ‘Embracing Nothing’, and ‘Jawbreaker’, the latter of which is only available as a bonus track. *Make sure you get a copy that includes this tune.* You had me at a Judas Priest cover, but a well-executed version of an overlooked classic from JP's most underrated album? Come on!

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