2LP - Black Vinyl housed in a Gatefold Sleeve.
Say the name Trivium and reverence follows. That’s because in the annals of modern metal there are few stories more illustrious or celebrated than the one that began with that group of impossibly young Floridian misfits dreaming of the lighted stage over 20 years ago. In the time since those heady days, their career has been burnished by the kind of triumphs wrought by the sweaty toil of relentless touring and the steady anvil-beat of landmark releases that have won them a legion of fans around the world. Just as Trivium have tirelessly forged their careers, so too have those ceaseless hammer-blows shaped Matt Heafy who, with each passing year, has taken shape as an artist, songwriter and thrilling frontman on stage, and one of metal’s most compelling voices when he’s off.
Given the close intertwining of Matt and Trivium’s stories, you’d have thought the two would be inseparable, but not so, because Ibaraki – the name for a terrifying Japanese demon taken from feudal legend – is more than a solo record. As he tells it, it’s the end-result of a journey to find his voice. It’s personal, it’s deep, and as he explains, its inspirations include everything from an adoration for the extremes of black metal, to the exuberant storytelling of Gerard Way, to the adventuresome worldliness of tragic bon viveur Anthony Bourdain. It’s a reflection of his multifaceted interests as well as a profound affirmation of his Japanese-American identity, and one that led him to confront one of his family’s most tragic moments. Like the artist behind it, there is much to the story of Ibaraki and it began with a timid email to one of black metal’s most revered and influential figures.
It was Matt’s exposure to Ihsahn’s solo work that would inspire the gradual craftsmanship that would eventually become Ibaraki. It was also the beginning of a friendship and creative collaboration that would eventually compel Ihsahn to take a leap of his own into a newfound role as producer on the project. While much of the material for Ibaraki was assembled over those months and years – as much a songwriting process as an exchange of ideas between friends – it wasn’t until the pandemic that the space was created and the idea could really flourish.
But Ibaraki was more than just an expression of Matt and Ihsahn’s deep creative resonance. He got by with a little help from his friends, too. While primarily written by Matt, Ihsahn engineered and produced and contributed some song structures, plus Trivium drummer Alex Bent and bassist Paolo Gregoletto and guitarist Corey Beaulieu contributed to various tracks. Ihsahn’s wife Heidi even sampled some natural sounds from the forest near their home and his entire family and Gerard Way contributed guest vocals to the song “Ronin”.
1. Hakanaki Hitsuzen
1. Jigoku Dayu
2. Tamashii No Houkai
3. Akumu (Feat Nergal)
2. Ronin (Feat. Gerard Way)
1. Susanoo No Mokoto (Feat Ihsahn)