Norway’s Triosphere celebrated its 10 anniversary by dropping its third and most impressive studio album to date, The Heart of the Matter. It has been four years since 2010’s fantastic The Road Less Traveled, and the new record pushes the band to another level.
Formed in 2004, the band is driven by vocalist/bassist Ida Haukland and guitarist/primary composer, Marius Silver Bergesen. Fellow guitarist T.O. Byberg and drummer Ørjan Aare Jørgensen square off the quartet for this album, though Jørgensen has since departed to be replaced by Kenneth Tårneby. Triosphere reached out to Jens Bogren (Opeth, Symphony X, Amon Amarth, Kreator) to mix and master The Heart of the Matter, which is always a good sign of things to come.
An ambient interlude opens the record, setting up the fiery and driving “My Fortress”. Haukland’s raspy-edged, aggressive vocals immediately grab the listener and pull them through the gauntlet to the emotive chorus then back into the fray. Equal parts edgy and melodic, the song presents a dynamic doorway for the remainder of the album.
Trilling staccato lead triplets battle with rapid fire guitar rhythms to begin “Steal Away the Light”. One cannot help but notice Haukland’s lyrics which read more like poetry: “In the shadows with a desperate glare, I felt a thousand heartbeats pierce the air, I have made a choice to have no fear, but now it feels like more than I can bear….”
“The Sentinel” captures perhaps the quintessential Triosphere signature—propulsive rhythms and brilliant drum work with soaring vocals lines, and some of the best solo work on the record. One of those solos comes courtesy of guest guitarist Simone Muraloni (DGM, Empyrios).
The band opens its heart wider for “Breathless”, packed with an intricate dance of progressions and tempos along with a first taste of guest pianist Espen Warankov Godo. As with every track on the record, Haukland’s vocal delivery elevates the song to inspired levels. She finds a more crystalline tone on “Departure”; equally mesmerizing and as beautiful as her edgier attacks. Fantastic proggy elements on the back half of the song frame an otherworldly, almost floating solo by Bergesen.
A huge chanting chorus kicks off “The Heart’s Dominion”; another track propelled by agitated riffing from Byberg and Bergesen, building to a massive and catchy chorus. “As I Call” amps up the infectious melody quotient, while “Relentless” takes off with fret work that descends like a swarm of angry insects in attack mode: Another huge melody line followed by an equally addictive chorus. Pagan’s Mind guitarist Jorn Viggo Lofstad lends his talents to one of the tastiest and most intriguing solos on the record—a fretboard dance that covers the spectrum.
Equally as impressive as Haukland’s vocals and the guitar machinations of Bergesen and Byberg throughout is Jørgensen’s final drum work with the band. He excels on every track, including the standout piece, “The Sphere”, which has an almost symphonic metal quality to it. Haukland’s bass glides along nicely throughout the record, though at times a bit too buried in the mix, it flows here superbly. And again, her lyrics avoid the typical metal renderings: “Can you feel me – like I feel you, a heartbeat where the sound of my soul shines through, there is no right – there is no wrong, in this sphere where the sound of my soul is born….”
More sonic gems follow, with “The Remedy” and Storyteller”, before the album closes out on a poignant note with the honest and heartfelt, “Virgin Ground”.
The Heart of the Matter is a near perfect record–an auditory magnum opus. Triosphere’s members have combined to create a nearly flawless masterpiece of progressive metal tinged with power and traditional metal elements. Haukland’s lyrical content feels like poetry; her voice powerful and emotive, adds depth and magic to every track. The songs on The Heart of the Matter are riveting and cinematic in scope. This is an album equally heavy and melodic, inspired and intelligent, diverse and dynamic. Add your own superlatives to taste–it is the heavy metal album of 2014.