Trivium didn't just survive 2020, they've positively thrived. With ninth album What The Dead Men Say rightfully met with the rapturous praise from fans, peers and critics, the full-blooded, multi-faceted heavy metal storm also went a long way to securing guitarists Matt Heafy and Corey Beaulieu's the crown of Best Metal Guitarists in MusicRadar's end of year poll.
But while releasing one of their finest albums to date, multiple guest spots, a new EP with Jared Dines and even finishing his long-promised black metal project with Ihsahn, may have been more than enough in such a turbulent 12 months, Heafy and his bandmates also made the most of the difficult circumstances that have shut down life for touring musicians.
An early exponent of streaming service Twitch, Heafy has become one of the faces of the increasingly popular and vital platform, and continued to entertain fans for hours every day from his home as he had previously done from the road. Whether it's practicing songs, doing covers, chatting or blasting his bandmates and fellow musicians on computer games, the frontman has paved the way for others to stay in touch with their fanbase, having cultivated a dedicated following. As he explains, it's become more important than ever to give something to the fans.
“This year has been completely terrible for so many, I’ve just made it my personal responsibility to use my stream as a place for people to hang out, just to give people something sense of community through all of this,” he explains from his Florida home that has become an online HQ for his legions of followers. “I like putting the brunt and the weight of that on myself. It feels good to be able to bring so much joy and happiness and a place where people can be from 9am-3pm every single day. They know they get to hear Trivium songs and have fun in a great place with like-minded people”
His efforts to stay in touch with fans via Twitch also provides a financial income, highlighting the potentials Twitch presents when the doors are shut on musicians' traditional moneymaking avenues.
But while the financial rewards of Twitch and the lauded A Light Or A Distant Mirror and The Deepest Cuts live shows have helped pay the bills and led to the band purchasing a new rehearsal and studio space – an aircraft hangar for any future virtual endeavours christened Trivium HQ – ultimately it's all part of the band's efforts to stay ahead of the curve and continue to be, if not the biggest band on the planet, but the best band and musicians they can be.
“I don’t feel a need to prove myself to anybody anymore. I feel this confidence with what I have. I’m still going to practice to be the best singer and guitar player of the best band in the world. I know in the back of my head I know that may not happen.
"What I say is I practice to be as good Bruce Dickinson, Freddie Mercury and John Petrucci, knowing it won’t happen, and work to be in the biggest band in the world knowing it might not happen,” he explains, smiling, while reflecting on those halcyon days of Ascendency when so many were quick to build them up to great heights before tearing them down. “But I put in the practice that it would require to make that happen. That’s the key, it’s not to make it a nihilistic thing, you should put in that amount of training for everything you do in life, you should work to make the absolute maximum possibility. That’s why it’s non-stop.”