Trials – In the Shadows of Swords (Self-Released)

Friday, 14th June 2013
Rating: 7.5/10

Off the bat, Trials shouldn’t be unsigned. While the rest of their fellow Chicagoans get signed for what amounts to note-burping, Trials is a unique commodity in a city that has gone down the sludge tubes. (And no, we’re not referring to the recent plight of the city’s baseball and football teams…like DR has room to talk.) In the Shadows of Swords is the band’s sophomore album, the follow-up to 2011’s Witness to the Downfall, expanding upon the modern metal template already laid down two years ago.

Pro production, which automatically gives the album a listenable quality. Because the album is sonically adept, those crunchy alt-Machine Head rhythms popping up on “Believers in Black” are made a little bit crunchier, sure to revive those mid-90’s groove metal days. Quality melodic choices are hanging around too, like on the opening “Conjoined” or “With Only Sorrow Now,” a song that breaks up the flow rather nicely at the halfway mark. The clean vocals that appear on “In the Misery Machine,” “All the Promises” and “Upon this Day” might be the only potential turn-off for straight-ahead thinkers, although Mark Sugar has a quality clean vocal template that neither offends or enthralls.

The accompanying cover of Judas Priest’s “Jawbreaker” adds some wily twists and turns to one of Priest’s more underrated jams, thus giving Trials even more points in the true metal department. In the Shadows of Swords is certainly worth a look if Burn My Eyes still gets you going, and you’ve grown to deaf to the relentless drone of sludge-core-whatever.

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