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  • Paolo
  • Matt
  • Corey
"Silence In The Snow" art and song beginnings...
– Matt Heafy

The new Trivium skull mascot, "Ibaraki" is derived from the old Japanese story of Ibaraki versus Watanabe No Tsuna.

In the story, Ibaraki is terrorizing the city of Rashomon gate, and only one warrior stands up to the demon to vanquish it once and for all. Watanabe No Tsuna chops off the demon's arm and the demon flees from Rashomon. Years later, an old woman visits Watanabe and asks to see the arm; when the old woman gets her hand on the arm, she turns back into Ibaraki and once again flees, this time, forever.

The idea was to have my tattoo artist Kahlil Rintye (from Tattoo City in San Francisco) create the oni Ibaraki's skull. Kahlil created the initial design, and for Silence we got the sketch to Vincent, a costume and mask maker who did the armor plating in the film Dogma. Vincent created the actual oni mask of Ibaraki, and that's what Jon Paul Douglass shot for the album cover of Silence.

The song "Silence In The Snow" was inspired by the night of seeing Heaven And Hell live in Japan. Immediately after the set, we were all able to meet Dio - we were all able to pick his brain and chat to him about all things metal and music. Dio was one of the truly most welcoming and humble musicians we've ever met. We started writing "Silence" after that night, back in 2007; the song was initially intended to be on the Shogun album.

The title for "Silence" is derived from the Japanese story series of Suikoden, specifically the story of Yuki No Danmari. Yuki No Danmari can be translated to mean "Silence In The Snow." The actual art piece of Yuki No Danmari depicts two tattooed warriors dance-fighting in a snow setting. This was the piece that inspired the name for the song itself.

We feel Silence as an album not only captures the mixing of modern and classic metal, but it also properly melds the worlds of classic and contemporary art; utilizing modern approaches and depictions of classical Japanese historical artwork and stories.

According to legend in the late 10th century of Heian Period Japan, Ibaraki-doji, a notorious Oni, resided at Rashomon Gate in Kyoto. Ibaraki-doji harassed people who tried to pass through to Rashomon Gate until a heroic samurai named Watanabe no Tsuna, a loyal retainer of Minamoto no Raiko, went to subdue the cruel Ibaraki-doji. When Tsuna arrived in Rashomon Gate he was attacked by Ibaraki-doji. However, Tsuna was a strong and valiant swordsman who was able to defend himself against the ferocious attack by the oni Ibaraki-doji. The battle raged on until Tsuna drew his katana and severed the arm of the demon. Screaming in pain Ibaraki-doji ran away from Tsuna, leaving his severed arm at the Rashomon Gate. Tsuna swept up Ibaraki-doji's arm as a trophy. When he arrived home at his mansion he wrapped up the severed arm and locked it away in a chest.

A few days later, an elderly woman appearing to be Tsuna's Aunt Mashiba, came to visit Tsuna. During the conversation, Tsuna's aunt asked her nephew to tell how he fought with the demon, and when Tsuna mentioned that he had the severed arm in his possession his aunt was curious and asked to see it. The unsuspecting Tsuna, brought out the chest with Ibaraki-doji's arm inside and when he removed the arm from the chest, his aunt revealed herself as being Ibaraki-doji in disguise, grabbed the arm and escaped from Tsuna's mansion. Tsuna was astonished that Ibaraki-doji had posed as his elderly aunt Mashiba and did not give chase. However, even after retrieving his arm, Ibaraki-doji never returned to dwell at Rashomon Gate again.

"Silence In The Snow" stories – Paolo Gregoletto
Silence in the Snow

We crammed into a small dressing room at the Academy in Glasgow in early 2014, we were on the road with our friend's in Killswitch Engage having an amazing time. I think the excitement of that tour sort of lit the creative spark once again. We needed it more at that time then I think people probably realized, coming off a few sour moments from the previous tour in America, it was a bit of a life saver for the band.

Anyways, we were jamming our demos on the Bose speakers in our room and we ran to the end of the list, and then someone put on the old demos, the bones of songs we never used.

It's not the best tuning for fast songs, but for mid paced groove and a slamming tone, it works like a charm. It's definitely one of the highlights of the album for me, it's like nothing we have done and it pushes the Trivium sound out a little further to the edges.

"Silence in the Snow" was there once again. It was sort of a cult song amongst the Trivium Worlders, so it's presence had been around and it was always an option that just never felt right at the time. It all changed that night, maybe it was the combination of having songs on seven strings once again and the energy of a sold out show awaiting us, but it just connected and the time had come to give the song it's chance.

Blind Leading the Blind

The intro riff of this song was an ode to our past. I sat down with the intent of writing a riff that could have easily had a home on Ember to Inferno or Ascendancy. We have always driven home the message of pushing boundaries and taking our sound to new directions, but I feel that if you don't remember where you are rooted from time to time then it's east to get lost.

You only live in the shadow of an album if you try to write the same one over and over again.

This song was different, I had an idea that I would start things off like something used to do and end up in a whole new place. The verse vocals and riff was a product of us jamming and Elvis helping to guide the chord changes into the right direction so melodically the vocals would flow nicely.

The pre-chorus was unlike any part in Trivium's writing history and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't think what would Tony Iommi do when I wrote the part. It was actually an easy part that was more difficult to track than to write, if you aren't "swinging" correctly than it will not feel right. I think each one of us had to run that specific part a few times in the tracking to nail it right.

This song has some of my favorite solo sections. Corey is scattered all over this songs with his melodies and shred, and I think it really took the track to the next level when he put his mark on this song. And that's really the case for most of the songs I bring in, I leave headroom for the melody lines Corey writes and what I anticipate Matt will do vocally.

Dead and Gone

Earlier in 2014, Matt was asked to "ghost write" a song for a newer band's album. When he showed us the demo I immediately honed in on the tuning, which was lower than our usual seven string tuning (Bb standard), and found out it was the seventh string dropped a whole step lower. It sounded heavy and made a simple grooving riff sound intense.

Fast forward a few weeks later and I'm doing a little writing at home and I hit a brick wall. I am tapped out of the usual drop songs on 6 string and our standard tunings. So like I usually do when I reach this stage of writer's block, I say fuck it and try something outside of the box, and that's when I tune my 7 string down to the MKH/GhostWriter tuning and the first thing I come up with is the main riff of "Dead and Gone".

It's not the best tuning for fast songs, but for mid paced groove and a slamming tone, it works like a charm. It's definitely one of the highlights of the album for me, it's like nothing we have done and it pushes the Trivium sound out a little further to the edges.

We had the refrain for "Dead and Gone" well in advance of the actual recording, I believe we came up with it one night in the back lounge of the bus on Mayhem. However, the overall theme and lyrical content hadn't been set in stone till the day Matt tracked vocals. We wrote almost 80% of that songs lyrics within an hour before he began to track them, and I would say that was a common occurrence this record. Come to the studio with lyrics finished, refine or rewrite better ones, and then track.

I remember Matt read the lyrics he had and we sat and thought about it for a few minutes and I just felt like the overall message had already been said in a previous song. So we went back and forth on what a better idea could be, arguing for and against changing parts, and ultimately the disagreement met in the perfect spot. We shifted the focus from an external source to ourselves.

"Dead and Gone" is about carrying on a legacy, about being able to fight for what you believe in and for those that came before you. As a band, you carry a responsibility to pass down what has come before you. When I write a riff or bass line I often think about that, is this worthy of the bands that created this genre? Often times it isn't in my opinion, but I feel like if you push yourself to meet that standard you are bound to reach it every now and then.

The secondary motif is about the fear of being forgotten. The music we make now will be what we are remembered for and that scares the shit out of me. It's our one chance to say something and make ourselves known amongst , once again, the great bands that paved the way for us to be here. You can become so consumed with the present that you often forget what you have been through and how time has changed that, how albums and songs are viewed differently each year that passes. So conversely, we thought how will our music will be viewed in the future? (This is also a reason we used part of the refrain from "Shogun" as a call and response type part for the pre-chorus.)

The Ghost That's Haunting You

This song was extremely collaborative in the lyric department. The original working title was "I Find A Way to Fall" and Corey had thrown out some ideas on the song being about someone who, know matter how much they have going for them, always seem to ruin opportunities or blow it.

As the song developed in the pre-production and finally the recording, I think we realized we wanted to tighten up that idea and refine it a little. We ultimately settled on making it about that inner voice or person, maybe an inner demon. I view the song as a sort of inner dialogue between yourself and the thing that's holding you back from living you life the way you want too.

This was another case of Matt and I sitting in the control room with the song looping over and over, part by part, re-writing or creating new lyrics. I came up with the idea of the line "The Ghost That's Haunting You" while sitting in the back of the room as Matt was tracking. I felt we were 99.9% there with it all, but it needed that one hook to sort of tie it all together. It's definitely become a stand out track for me, and I like knowing that it really took an all hands on deck approach to finishing the lyrics.

The middle section of this song was built in our practice spot. Corey brought in almost everything but I think we decided at some point we needed to jam and get something new going for that section. Elvis really drove home the issue of making these solo spots almost a song unto themselves, and if I'm being totally honest I think we sort of overlooked that aspect for while.

When Matt is not singing, there needs to be a badass riff or a solo to take take charge of the song. I think in this bridge section we get both a riff that tips it hat to King Diamond and one of Corey's finest moments, lots of shred but more importantly it is memorable. You can sing and air guitar this shit! And that's coming from a bass player, because nothing puts me to sleep faster than wanky ass guitar exercise solo.

Pull Me From The Void

This song was the final track we worked on in pre-production. It also has the distinguished honor of being the only song made out of two separate demos - one from myself and one from Corey. I won't give away which parts were made by who, but I'd be interested to see some guesses.

The chorus has to be one of my favorite because of the rhythm, again a swing to the part which opens up a different vocal approach. We have used the feel on songs like "Into the Mouth of Hell" and "Inception of the End", but this was start to finish in that feel. The vocals had to follow the riff and play off of it. I remember Elvis singing a melody line to main riff (and eventually the chorus) I had and Matt coming up with every word to "Pull Me From the Void" except the word pull. I can't remember what word it was but I remember thinking it was too passive, especially if you asking for someone's help in getting you out of a situation. I suggested using "pull" instead and I think ultimately it impacted a hell of a lot more.

"Pull Me From the Void" is a plea for help, it's about being in either a bad situation, or somewhere that isn't the ideal in life and asking an outside influence to get you out of it. You could insert so many scenarios here, but again we can only write about what we know, and in a band you can find yourself in a place where you just don't fit, or you know isn't right for you anymore and that you have to try and escape before it's to late for you.

Until the World Goes Cold

This was another swing for the fences moment for me. I had some weird ideas of mixing the seven strings with acoustic parts and making something far different than the rest of the album. If I show you the demo or strip the vocals from the final track it's definitely a simple affair, but that wasn't the intent at all. I wanted to capture a vibe that felt like longing for something that was close or maybe always out of reach.

This song is about our band and what it means to be in a band. I believe if you asked each of us what it means to us personally, you might get a slightly different answer, but the overall story is from our perspective.

It's a song for anyone that's ever attempted to live out a dream or set a goal and go for it.

It's about personal sacrifices being made without knowing that it will be worth it all in the end.

You either choose to stay the course and except that you can't have it all. I don't think it's a sad song, but it's meant to be about that journey towards what ever it is you ultimately choose, and that isn't always an easy path.

Rise Above the Tides

Corey brought this song into rehearsal and we really worked this one into a monster song. A big focus for this record was finding the right pace and leaving space to create a sonically big album, especially in terms of low end. We ended up deconstructing the verse riff a bit and allowed it to build. I think the placement on the album order was perfect. It follows "Until the World Goes Cold" and I think the message and melody feels more hopeful and sort of alleviates the somber tone.

Again, this song has a great solo section and probably the longest of the album. The key changes, the feel, the dual melody and vocal lines, build into a real high point for this album.

The Thing That's Killing Me

On the eve of a tour (which one I can't recall) I gave myself a simple challenge. Write one riff and come back to finish it after. That is how the main riff for this song came into existence. It's weird to separate writing sessions like that, but it goes back to trying to try new methods when I hit a brick wall. I've had songs come out of me like I was destined to write it, and I've had some that really challenged me, actually some that have out right pissed me off and made me question why I try to write music.

This was a nice change of pace. Write one solid riff, come back and fill in the blanks when you have fully been deprived of writing abilities on tour, something which I've purposefully done unless I absolutely have to do it. It worked out perfectly and I believe I jumped straight into making the song more about the bass lines than the guitar to start. The pre-chorus bass line drives the melody in the music while the guitars play the roots notes and chords.

Beneath the Sun

This song was on the chopping block in the writing session. It went through many variations and different tunings. I think the uncertainty of the song's existence ended up making it's way into the lyrics without us realizing it at the time. It's a song about not losing yourself and your identity. Funny how the song definitely went through that exact same trouble.

We had a weekend break from the pre-pro with Elvis and I knew that the overall vibe was that this song was great until the middle. Then it just sort of went nowhere and we could not come up with the right parts. We are never short of riffs and ideas, but this just left us stumped and eventually you have to make the call to cut it if it's not working.

I believed in the song enough to tell Elvis and the other dudes to give me a chance to brainstorm over the weekend, if I come back with something cool, if not I knew this song was going to get scrapped. My drive back to South Florida was three hours, but with an unresolved problem it felt like a 12 hour trip. I can not stand when there is something wrong and I don't have any means to address the issue. First thing I did when I got home was to throw my bags into the corner, fire up Logic, and get back to work.

When we got back together the following Monday I played the newly re-worked demo and everyone was feeling it, much to my relief, and showed Matt and Corey the new riff and we ended up creating a new part shortly after to tie the song together. It's incredible the amount of time and effort that can go into a part as short as 30 seconds.

Breathe in the Flames

Breathe was the last song I demoed before we began our pre-production. We had met with Elvis and I really liked a lot of his ideas and concepts for songwriting, using key changes and "punctuation" with stops to enhance transitions through out the song. It's very easy to get lost in just stringing riffs together and lose sight of those minor details that in the end MAKE the song. The song needed a bit of work in the bridge, but those parts always work themselves out best in the face to face writing situations. My job is to get something 50-75% of the way and let the other dudes take it further or bring up better ideas.

The lyrics in the chorus sum up the entirety of this song very well: "The ones that build you up can burn you down the same." I've experienced this on every level as a band, local to international. I think it's always wise to remember that people have their own agendas in life, and you have to realize that the same people will prop you up and tear you down for the exact same reasons - themselves. If you can make it through the experience once, you can make it through overtime, and after awhile it emboldens you a bit.

Additional Inspirations
Tony Iommi's book - "Iron Man" by Paolo Gregoletto

Reading has become the way I fill my dull moments on tour - flying for 12 hours, sitting in the middle of Nowhere, USA, or just trying to catch a breather from the bus life. I have a love for many genres, but one of the most obvious reads from me is the band bio or memoir. Thankfully I had bought a copy of Tony Iommi's book last year while we were on tour, and while it had all the the debauchery and rock n' roll stories you could want, it had a real deep impact on me for the writing of this record and also just a great perspective into what it means to do this for long term.

Tony is the bedrock for riff writing in metal music. He has been prolific through each decade he has been active, he has made a mark with some of the greatest singers in the genre, and frankly we all owe our jobs to that man deciding to take a turn towards a darker approach to rock music. You can sense he loves to write riffs and music, and I think the book just pushed me back to my own ideas and made me want to think a little harder about each one.

His perseverance through each phase of Black Sabbath was incredible. Through all odds he kept that ship going through trends, through lack luster moments, through bad press, bad blood, and anything that a life in music can throw at you. His story tells you that you have to fight for this because the odds are stacked against you. Second only to learning "Iron Man" on guitar, I would say this book had an extremely profound impact on me as a musician, and honestly it reaffirmed my belief in playing metal and rock music. This life style is not for everyone and I think that's why I love it.

The Classic/Modern Mixture

The Trivium sound is very simple to define, it is the blend of classic and modern metal. What is classic is always a constant, and what is modern is always the variable in our sound. I believe it took us almost 10 years and seven albums to truly figure that out, but looking at what we have done, I think that would sum up each album. It makes them unique and sometimes it works perfectly, sometimes it misses the mark, but we always stick to that mindset and overall theme in our writing in the hope that we can create something that feels both familiar and totally new all in one song and across the entire album.