Beartooth & Trivium
with Malevolence, ARCHETYPES COLLIDE
Beartooth began as an emotional exorcism. Conceived, constructed, and unleashed by one man in a basement studio. Now, even as the band has grown to become a headlining festival act; cracked Billboard's Top 25; lit up SiriusXM radio; and were crowned Breakthrough Band at both the Metal Hammer Golden Gods Awards and Loudwire Music Awards, Beartooth's music and message remain intensely personal.
The fierce dedication to honesty, authenticity, and raw fury demonstrated by Caleb Shomo is at the center of everything Beartooth represents. The music he's crafted in his darkest hours transcends, connecting with the broken hearted and isolated around the globe. Songs like "In Between," "Hated," "The Lines," and "Sick of Me" have been streamed hundreds of millions of times. These are anthems for the downtrodden and disconnected, celebrated with sing-alongs on international tours; supporting Slipknot, Bring Me The Horizon, or Pierce The Veil; on the Kerrang! Tour with Don Broco in the UK; at major festivals like Download and Rock on the Range. What began as artistic self-medication for a single multi-instrumentalist and producer, with no career aspirations or grand plans, quickly caught fire.
The Sick EP (2013), Disgusting (2014), and the sophomore-slump shattering Aggressive (2016) comprise a blunt audio journal, chronicling Shomo's battles with his own demons. As Beartooth became a fully functioning band, bringing these intimate musings to the masses, that purity remained, via a consistently isolated creative methodology. The stark look inward further intensified with September 28, 2018's Disease. The third full-length album from Beartooth is a painstaking, riff-driven examination of the unshakeable throes of depression. While there are moments of positivity, this isn't the sound of triumph. This is music about survival. "The album is a whirlwind of emotion," Shomo explains. "Crazy highs, crazy lows, and lots of intensity. This record isn't about winning anything. It's about trying to even begin to learn how to deal with things. It's hard to process just how dark you can get, what you can really put yourself through with expectations. It's like starting from the beginning all over again. At the end of the day, it is a very dark album." Even as Shomo and his bandmates played to sold-out crowds across Europe, the battle against mental illness and childhood issues returned, and the seed for Disease was planted. The title track was the first song written for it, setting the overall tone.
As always, Shomo recorded vocals, guitars, bass, and drums, and mixed the album himself with assistance from an engineer, now with executive producer (and Grammy winner) Nick Raskulinecz, who has worked with Foo Fighters and Rush. To further enhance the emotional realism Beartooth champions, the third full-length album was tracked in a brand new environment, with an old-school urgency. After crafting the songs in his usual basement domain, Shomo made the trip from the familiar comfort of his equipment and isolation in Ohio to Blackbird in Nashville.
"When I make a record at home, I feel really safe there," Shomo confesses. "Going into Blackbird, there was a lot of fear. Thankfully, going into that environment just brought out the best. It made the songs feel even more real. It was all worth it." The famous recording studio was the birthplace of pivotal work from a massive list of legends, tastemakers, and up-and-comers; like Alice In Chains, Taylor Swift, and Greta Van Fleet. Determined to challenge himself in new ways, Shomo kicked aside his drum samples and digital guitar tones in favor of rich analog vibes, banging out take after take, to capture the feel of classic favorites like AC/DC and Motörhead. Ten to twelve hour days, six days per week, sweating and screaming through performances, resulted in gargantuan surefire Beartooth bangers like "Used and Abused," "Manipulation," and "Enemy," easily among the strongest songs in the catalog. "You Never Know" was written in collaboration with producer and songwriter Drew Fulk (Fit For A King, As I Lay Dying), after several hours of conversation in a coffee shop. The album closer, "Clever," was written in an afternoon at the studio, a fittingly sorrowful bookend to Beartooth's darkest album. "Depression is something that's just 'in your head,' there's no reason for it, so it 'should' be easy enough to just get over, but I can never do it. It's something unshakeable. I can't make it work," Shomo says. "I wanted to write an album about that. Disease really encompasses everything emotionally that I wanted to convey." Shomo's commitment to raw and personal truth will always define Beartooth. "It's very important that I stay honest with every song that I write. I didn't even mean to start this band. I wrote a couple songs and I felt way better afterward. Especially with this record, there are no compromises. It is exactly what I wanted to make." With Beartooth, what begins each time as the personal expression of one man is shared with his bandmates, then through the power of musical inspiration and connection, is given to the world then returns to its creator, to begin the cycle anew.
Various belief systems throughout history exalt the number 10 as divine. 10 years comprise a decade, we traditionally possess 10 fingers and 10 toes, our very decimal system remains based on 10, and so on and so forth. Trivium grasp for collective perfection on their 10th full-length offering, In The Court of the Dragon [Roadrunner Records]. Following 22 years, over 1 million units moved, hundreds of sold-out shows, and halfa-billion streams, the GRAMMY® Award-nominated Florida quartet--Matt Heavy [vocals, guitar], Corey Beaulieu [guitar], Paolo Gregoletto [bass], and Alex Bent [drums]--deliver a definitive statement cast in ironclad guitar fireworks, pummeling rhythms, lyrical provocations, and stadium-shaking choruses. It springs from the past, seizes the present, and hints at the future of Trivium--and metal--all at once.
"Getting to album 10 felt momentous," says Paolo. "Not many bands get this far, so it had to live up to being the 10th record. We didn't know if we were going to be able to tour, so it had to still be impressive enough to keep everyone's attention. It was the sole focus for the last ten months. We had to make sure we met the bar we've set for our fans and ourselves."
"To be 10 records in is an accomplishment in and of itself," agrees Corey. "To us, this music felt special. We're the strongest we've ever been as friends and as a band. I hope it shows in the songs."
"I feel like we're four people who just started a new band with all of the aspirations and dreams in the world," exclaims Matt. "I'm excited to go to practice. I'm excited to play our music. I'm very happy to be in the band with these three guys. 22 years into this thing, that's incredible."
Those 22 years have set the stage for this era. Trivium crafted a classic in the form of Ascendancy. It concluded 2005 as KERRANG!'s "Album of the Year," went gold in the UK, and has since surpassed global sales of 500,000 copies. Retrospectively, Metal Hammer cited it in the Top 15 of the "The Greatest Metal Albums of the Century." They've earned six straight Top 25 debuts on the Billboard Top 200 and six Top 3 debuts on the Top Rock Albums Chart. One of many standouts from 2017's The Sin and The Sentence, the single "Betrayer" garnered a GRAMMY® Award nod in the category of "Best Metal Performance." The quartet reached new heights on 2020's What The Dead Men Say, appearing everywhere from The New York Times, NPR, Forbes, Billboard, Tech Crunch, and Kotaku to Revolver and Alternative Press. They are the rare band who can incinerate a stage alongside Metallica and Iron Maiden and hold a captive audience of tens of thousands on a Twitch stream.
In the midst of the Global Pandemic, the members safely congregated in order to practice and volley ideas back and forth. During the summer, Alex and his wife moved across the country from California to Florida as Paolo also relocated back home. Once conditions permitted, they returned to the studio in Full Sail University with producer Josh Wilbur [Lamb of God, A Day To Remember] in 2021.
"When I moved, everything changed," says Alex. "We could easily get on a group text to practice or write virtually anytime. It isn't like I had to hop on a plane anymore. Everything was so much simpler and smoother. We weren't working with any time limitations, and everything paid off."
It most certainly did...Trivium sent shockwaves through heavy metal with the surprise release of the first single and title track "In The Court of The Dragon." Within a month, the song piled up millions of streams as Guitar World hailed it as "one of the standout metal tracks of the year." With its striking renaissance-inspired artwork, enigmatically unnerving fantasy visual, and conflagration of guttural screams, hammering percussion, orchestral intro courtesy of Ihsahn [Emperor], and sweeping hooks, it unlocked a gateway into another realm.
"As far as the meaning goes, there is no right or wrong answer," grins Matt. "I want people to come up with their own interpretations of everything they hear, see, and experience on In The Court of the Dragon. Of course, I'm obsessed with Scandinavian stories, Vikings, Japanese history, and the tales of Odin, Thor, Ragnarok, and the end of the world, Paolo was like, 'Why don't we create our own mythology?' We've definitely used pre-existing myths for inspiration in the past. We created our own myth now."
Meanwhile, "Feast Of Fire" burns bright with a massive chant hyper-charged by nimble melodic thrash and a smart-bomb precise solo. "To us, 'Feast Of Fire' is in the direct lineage of 'Dying In Your Arms', 'Unti The World Goes Cold', and 'Black'," Matt observes. "We really fleshed it out perfectly with the chorus, and it was meant to feel big."
Then, there's "Like A Sword Over Damocles." A hulking groove gives way to a skyscraping refrain uplifted by thick distortion.
"I had the initial backbone of the song, and I really wanted to do a barnburner," Corey reveals. "I had researched the concept. It was a cool story about the struggles of being someone in power and always having people question you. What happens when the person who's questioning you has your job and responsibility? They don't want it. Paolo built on that idea, and we made our own story. I'm really stoked for everyone to hear it."
The near eight-minute "Fall Into Your Hands" originated on Matt's uber popular daily Twitch stream and organically progressed into one of the most epic compositions in the band's catalog. However, everything culminates on "The Phalanx." It twists and turns through incendiary leads, heart-wrenching screams, an entrancing melody, and final symphonic comedown.
"Thematically and musically, the song has three acts," Matt states. "For as conceptual as it is, it also reflects our chemistry in the room. Since we're so technically proficient at our instruments and I spend hours singing every day on stream, we're over prepared. For In The Court of the Dragon and What the Dead Men Say, we went in and played without thinking. We default to technical, elaborate, and long ideas, because that's what we grew up on. It all felt natural."
In the end, Trivium have inched towards this moment for ten albums and finally arrived like never before as they triumphantly rise In The Court of the Dragon.
"This album has everything," Matt leaves off. "It has the singing, the screaming, the death metal, the black metal, and the catchy metal. When we have all of those elements together, we're the happiest. It's the key to Trivium."
"This is a new chapter," Paolo concludes. "We're crossing into something else. I don't know what it is, but I'm excited for it. We have a lot left in us, and I want to prove that." - Rick Florino, August 2021
For over two decades, Trivium have quietly raised the bar for heavy music by conjuring a near-magic balance between towering melodic metal infectiousness, extreme metal unpredictability, black metal scope, and a kick of rock 'n' roll spirit. After forming in 1999, Trivium crafted a classic in the form of Ascendancy. It concluded 2005 as KERRANG!'s "Album of the Year," went gold in the UK, and has since surpassed global sales of 500,000 copies. Retrospectively, Metal Hammer cited it in the Top 15 of the "The Greatest Metal Albums of the Century." They've earned six straight Top 25 debuts on the Billboard Top 200 and six Top 3 debuts on the Top Rock Albums Chart. One of many standouts from 2017's The Sin and The Sentence, the single "Betrayer" garnered a GRAMMY® Award nod in the category of "Best Metal Performance." The quartet reached new heights on 2020's What The Dead Men Say, appearing everywhere from The New York Times, NPR, Forbes, Billboard, Tech Crunch, and Kotaku to Revolver and Alternative Press. They are the rare band who can incinerate a stage alongside Metallica and Iron Maiden and hold a captive audience of tens of thousands on a Twitch stream. Following 22 years, over 1 million units moved, hundreds of sold-out shows, and half-a-billion streams, the GRAMMY® Award-nominated Florida quartet--Matt Heavy [vocals, guitar], Corey Beaulieu [guitar], Paolo Gregoletto [bass], and Alex Bent [drums]--deliver a definitive statement cast in ironclad guitar fireworks, pummeling rhythms, lyrical provocations, and stadium-shaking choruses on their 10th full-length offering, In The Court of the Dragon [Roadrunner Records]. It springs from the past, seizes the present, and hints at the future of Trivium--and metal--all at once.