Wednesday, July 24, 2013
Trial - Malicious Arts 
Of all the new traditional heavy metal bands emerging from Sweden, Trial is my absolute favorite. ''The Primordial Temple''dropped last year and was an instant winner, installing itself as one of 2012's top releases, hands down. The initial splash of sound may leave little to deduce from, especially for the harsh critique, and many questions arise when year-ends lists are surveyed: ''is this band really suited for the top 10 of the year?''. The answer unquestionably varies, and usually, people are accustomed to underrate such minor and emergent acts just because their mainstream impact does not even equal that of larger, commercially successful bands. Here's my answer to that - fuck big bands and big labels. One of the last things a promising, virile act needs is sweltering pressure from mainstream labels, and I think we've witnessed a goodly amount of bands who underwent the same change, morphing into a commercial outfit before they even get the chance to release a third album, and I thank the heavens that Trial is mettlesome enough to keep true to its underground complex, while still managing to move forward. Nuclear Winter Records, one of my favorite underground imprints, is prudent to sign a deal with the young Swedes, because this shows not only that the band is progressing in quality but also that they've proved not to be some transient group, and I'm eager on getting my hands on whatever releases they spurt in the future.
For now, we're confined to this mini album, ''Malicious Arts'', with the logo back in full archaic splendor, and the same raging, traditionally-oriented heavy metal motifs of ''The Primordial Temple''. Their sonic foundation is completely redolent of King Diamond and Mercyful Fate, sprinkled with Maiden and Priest, but anyone with experience of the debut knows that they're into more than simple, generic rehashing. ''Malicious Arts'' is a queer name for the EP, because despite harboring interest for some of the darker, occult-themed accumulations of heavy metal, there is nothing particularly ''malicious'' here, but the increased doggedness of the riffs, spewed forth via a primal powerhouse of traditional values ignites a certain abysmal aesthetic that seems to be enlarged since the debut. I honestly wasn't expecting any changes at all here, but I was surprised to hear sheer volubility and articulateness rushing through the veins of the melodic riffing, with not a moment of feckless uncertainty or banality during the absorbing 12 minutes of ritualistic heavy metal bliss. Seriously, I think I may as well say that Trial are even better here than in the full-length, but the paucity of proper run time drains some of the elements of complete engulfment, ultimately failing to hit the bull's eye.
The beautiful, harmonious melodies whirl and whistle around like bullets flying through a godforsaken battlefield with reckless abandon, matched only by the memorable slew of gushing rhythm patterns that form a path of primordial carnality. Linus Johansson's vocals are even more spiritual than before, though in no way does he exploit falsettos, but chooses to plod on along with the speed/heavy riffs in a simpler manner of timbre, but his performance on ''Of Sinister Seed (The Madness Within)'' is just spectacular, fronting the roaming guitars with an incinerating range of inflections. The more technical guitar riffs collide with his brilliant high-pitched screams and form something of a dream-like ritual, as though you were being the center of a blood-painted pentagram with a choir of hooded acolytes singing psalms for the devil. The fluent leads promptly form an incandescent arch of serenity, and the drums are strikingly effective, spiking as they are somehow shadowed by the abyss of the guitars and the mesmerizing vocals. The overall sound is titular, from start to finish, and the echo-dowsed consistency of the instrumentation never proves to be a hindrance. Even the lyrics constantly sold me:
Through the mist I trembled forth in solitude
To seek the dark depths once again!
And unveiled were hidden plains leading out of time
That will erase all restrictive thoughts of mine!
Receive the power to build the world anew
Your own reflection will no longer stare back at you
Like flesh and bone suddenly ripped apart
Heed to the fire that burns within your heart
One thing that's definitely more prominent on ''Malicious Arts'' is the fact that Trial are becoming more and more ambitious and adventurous. Sure, only on very few occasions does the EP work against the pinpointed influences that it aspires to be like, but shovel a patch of earth with ''Malicious Arts'' written all over over it, and you're bound to find a few different artifacts from that of a King Diamond coven. It's obvious that the Swedes are working with pure dedication and the music here, as noted before, is not a cheesy reevaluation of traditional Danish or NWOBHM aspects, it's rich music packed with intriguing densities and subtleties, yet so rarely do the Swedes show their lassitude while working with such swelling compositions that the listener, finds himself entangled with diligent, thoughtful riffing and frivolity at once. Perhaps I may have exaggerated a slight bit when I said that there wasn't a single moment of banality, because there are some rare sequences in these 12 minutes that I felt the band ventured a little too deep into the abyss, leaving the listener in a somewhat bleak, aimless attic, but the overall quality is good enough to make me listen to this over and over again. Thus, I like to think of Trail as a better model or revitalized heavy metal than many others in the same spectrum, such as In Solitude and Portrait, and I have no doubt that the upcoming full-length will continue to kick asses in the same manner.
Of Sinister Seed (The Madness Within)