It often seems like Sweden has more active heavy metal bands than almost any other country out there, and they have the quality to back up the numbers. Trial (Swe) made a name for themselves over three full lengths that took a significant amount of King Diamond and Mercyful Fate influence and then injected some hints of power metal and 70s prog at times which gave them a different style. After their third album Motherless came out in 2017 the group went through some lineup changes, with vocalist Linus Johansson departing in 2019. Though Trial would recruit former Air Raid singer Arthur W. Andersson shortly after, they’ve been fairly quiet since and are looking to break that silence in a big way this year. While a full length hasn’t materialized just yet (though it sounds like one may come out later on in 2021), a way to showcase how Andersson fits in the band has materialized through the two-song cover EP Sisters of the Moon.
I’m not always crazy about releases that are focused entirely on covers, but have to admit that the format works in Trial’s favor as it gives them the chance to show off some different elements while still channeling the same infectious heavy metal from years earlier. The title track of the EP is, as you might’ve guessed, a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Sisters of the Moon” which takes the original and injects it with a significant dose of heavy metal. Given that this group already showcased some 70s influences previously this might not be completely unexpected, but the way that they add dueling guitars into the song really helps them to put their stamp on it. The more aggressive tone transforms the material significantly and makes it able to have the same pop hook as before but in a completely new way. While the guitars get to shine first, it doesn’t take long before Arthur W. Andersson is able to let his voice soar over the recording in a way that still has a bit of that heavy metal falsetto but with a mellower tone. There’s a lot of depth to the performance that makes it clear why Trial chose him, and if they can bring in some more of these rock and influences from outside of metal to their next album it should help them to stand out even further.
“Sisters of the Moon” could’ve easily stood out on its own, but the B-side helps to show that Trial hasn’t shied away from their heavy metal roots. “Die Young” is a cover of Dio-era Black Sabbath from the Heaven and Hell album, which is likely to be easily recognizable to anyone that’s spent even the littlest of time with the genre. While this cover goes for a more straightforward adaptation compared to how the band transformed Fleetwood Mac, they are able to capture that same fire and this gives Andersson a perfect chance to show off how powerful of a performance he can deliver. The tone’s a little bit lighter than the original, but there’s a genuine sense of confidence to the singing and instrumentation that really does the song justice. It’s worth mentioning here that the production values really help both tracks to grab your attention no matter how familiar you are with the original recordings or not, and they bring that right balance of heaviness and melody.
Short-format releases can give established bands a chance to show off some different elements, and that’s exactly what Trial has done here with fantastic results. Even if you’ve listened to the original songs over and over again these versions shake things up enough to have some real appeal, and if this is an indication of the type of influences the band will be pulling from for their next album the rest of Swedish heavy metal better watch out. I almost missed this one at the end of January and I’m glad I circled back, as this could still stand as one of the best EP’s 2021 has to offer many months from now. Sisters of the Moon is available from Metal Blade Records.
-Review by Chris Dahlberg
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