Trial - Motherless

Trial Motherless cover
Metal Blade Records
Sweden’s Trial returns a mere two years after their sophomore effort and about 10 after their initial conception have been making strides and have changed things about them in almost all respects, other than the lineup. Their songwriting, their vocals, their performances are all “better”. Even the record company has been upgraded from High Roller to Metal Blade.
The compositions on “Motherless” (not to be confused with the well-known porn site) have a lot more variation in tempo and a far better perspective, a deeper scope and increased focus, although there still probably a step more in which they could up them. The riffs are more interesting and even Linus Johansson has graduated from sounding like Artch to sounding like a mix between Sammet and Dickinson, but not “that” good, so more Sammet than Dickinson and then early Sammet than Avantasian one. Their style is still old school influenced as it could be, but this time the Merciful Fate ideas are partly replaced by a more Maidenesque/Fates Warning air, although it’s nothing radical and it might be due to Johansson’s much improved vocals that I’m getting that impression. I guess the closest modern band to compare them to would be their compatriots Portrait.
They still struggle a bit to come up with great choruses, but almost everything else is as it should be, just not getting a proper release after the buildup on song after song – can be a bit frustrating I guess…
“Motherless” and “In Empyrean Labour” share an air of mystery doom undertones and a similar penchant for sounding atmospheric.
“Cold Comes the Night” has Johansson going for an Archkinson vocal style, with elongated finishes in phrases, typical of old school Fates… but done a shade darker.
“Juxtaposed” is a bit messy and I liked more a couple of guitar ideas, than the ever-high pitched Johansson – who here loses any charm he might have built during previous songs, insisting in a monotonous high pitched delivery.
“Aligerous Architect” initially has this acoustic intro, which makes you think the band will settle for something more mid-tempo, but then has a barrage of NWOBHM influenced riffs and a screaming buildup paradoxically pulling the break then almost presenting a chorus and reprising the ideas more or less; it’s quite the ambitious effort and nice to see the band taking chances, but I hope they could free themselves of the preconceptions they might have… right now they might be writing to fit a style and not to fit the song, which is bad, but they certainly are showing signs of maturing, shedding up the notions of having to sound a certain way.
I really liked, the fact that “Birth” wastes most of its duration in building up an atmosphere – it does so quite brilliantly and has very few vocal parts because it really does so, in a great way, trying to pave the way for “Embodiment”, a really ambitious nine minute epic that quite monotonously builds and builds up to the fifth minute than has a couple of “cool minutes” probably less than that and then goes completely King Warning or Fates Diamond with the next verses, only to end with the last few minutes sung as a reverbed lament under ones breath, leading to a multi-part seven minute conclusion that finally seems to try to put more effort in sounding cohesive almost manages to come together nicely enough.
I’m under the impression that the album must be a concept, or at least have a common theme running through its tracks, which makes it a more challenging affair, but I digress, it’s the artists responsibility to make it “good” and easy to follow.
All in all, the band manages to refine their already defined identity a lot and improve on a lot of areas considerably, only showing minor issues for the most part plaguing them in general and a bit of an inability to sound pluralist in the style, or at least more varied without losing their focus, something that a lot of the classics were able to achieve effortlessly, mixing styles, atmospheres and tempos without fear. Still can’t help but to note the improvement and expect something really good from these guys probably on their next step.