Trivium – In The Court Of The Dragon (Album Review)

Trivium – In The Court Of The Dragon
Released: October 8th, 2021

Line Up:

Matthew K Heafy // Vocals & Guitar
Corey Beaulieu // Vocals & Guitar
Paolo Gregoletto // Bass & Vocals
Alex Bent // Drums

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It was only April last year that Trivium dropped their second 10/10 album (as judged by WOS) What the Dead Men Say. Less than 18 months later they have returned with another 10 tracks of pure fucking metal: In the Court of the Dragon. Frankly, I don’t know how they have done it. I mean sure, there hasn’t been a chance to tour that release, which leaves plenty of time for writing, rehearsal and recording. But in an era when plenty of bands are dropping singles and EPs to pass their time, who the heck has the audacity to release a second full album? Such is the confidence of Trivium on album number ten. This isn’t … Dead Men… Part 2 either, this one stands on its own as a killer record.

We descend into the court via the instrumental intro, ‘X’, and like … Dead Men… ‘s ‘IX’, it builds anticipation perfectly before the title track erupts with fury. Matt Heafy is not mucking around on vocals. This is a full on onslaught of blast beats and beastly vocals. The chorus is sung cleanly and the breakdown is brutal. The solos flat out shred and I tell ya, if you find yourself faced with a dragon (metaphorical or otherwise), chuck this badarse tune on and see if said beast doesn’t throw down in the pit with you. ‘Like a Sword Over Damocles’ gives you a chance to wipe the sweat from your brow but only just – this is a thrasher with Matt in growl mode. The chorus is epic again and I’ll be damned if fists aren’t going in the air at festivals across the world. The title refers to the constant peril faced by those in power, a great allusion to the “weight” of leadership through the pandemic era. The guitar work is again epic, Corey Beaulieu is just straight fire as he and Heafy trade off.

So far, there isn’t a ton of difference between the opening tracks and the last couple of albums. Second single ‘Feast of Fire’ is a bit different. The band was born out of a demo for another song when they decided to follow the riff into a full new song. And it is a killer anthem about overcoming the odds and finding the strength to keep going. Compare the maturity here to their earlier song, the similarly themedAnthem (We Are the Fire)’ and you can see how far they evolved. ‘Feast of Fire’ is still fiercely heavy, and compliments the rest of the album by using melody and tempo differently to the other full songs. It’s the kind of song that makes the existence of this album necessary and not just an attempt to repeat … Dead Men… That said, ‘A Crisis of Revelation’ does sound like it would fit alongside the tracks on that album. Given the high quality, that isn’t a sin at all.

They are still capable of trying different things – ‘The Shadow of the Abattoir’ is the kind of epic song Trivium have in their arsenal and features what might be Heafy’s best vocal performance ever. From a slow baritone delivery on the verses to the higher key of the chorus, Heafy takes us on a journey through depression as he warns us to “don’t go searching for battles… you’ll rip yourself to pieces…” The extended solos that breakout into replicating the vocal harmony are near perfect too. Paolo’s vocal modulation on the harmony for the last chorus is also ridiculously good. ‘No Way Back Just Through’ is another rager with a festival ready chorus that will no doubt get a great run when they play headline gigs. It’s actually hard to pick highlights on this one, each song is strong for its own reasons and the album is cohesive in a way that harkens back to classic 80s albums that fit neatly onto two sides of a vinyl. ‘Fall into your Hands’ is a banger with the trio of vocalists doing some of their best work on the chorus. It’s a take-no-prisoners thrash riff with multiple solos and instrumental passages for air guitar along with. It’s at this point I should also mention the strings. They have popped up on a few songs, buried in the mix, but at the end of ‘Fall…’ they get their own space and it is a glorious coda for the song. 

What Trivium does best though is rock hard, so ‘From Dawn to Decadence’ fits the bill perfectly. It thrashes, blasts and stomps for four minutes with a hooky chorus to hum later. We close with the face melting ‘The Phalanx’. The grand intro riff drops into the mid tempo verse before Heafy uses his scream. There’s more strings on the bridge before the heroic chorus. Fair to say they throw everything into this one, including more sublime solos. Drummer Alex Bent deserves credit for keeping up with the riffs too and still putting in fills and little moments that just elevate the songs by punctuating a riff or space in the vocals. The songs, like the album as a whole, are about facing demons and fighting for your cause. It caps that theme off beautifully with the band standing definitely alongside Matt. 

In their youth they were mocked for wearing their influences a little too closely: thrash bands like Metallica and Testament, mixed with European death metal influences. At times they have done full albums of clean singing, written curious bouncy singles and engaged in prog epics with long titles. The Trivium of their last few albums, dating back to 2017’s The Sin and the Sentence, is one that has emerged with a clear sense of self and the type of sound they want. There are arena worthy choruses, seriously heavy riffs, technical solos and a lyrical sensibility that mixes the personal with mythological. Trivium is now just Trivium, and In the Court of the Dragon is another release that defines what that means: they are one of the best metal bands on the planet. 

Trivium – In the Court of the Dragon tracklisting 

  1. X
  2. In the Court of the Dragon
  3. Like a Sword Over Damocles
  4. Feast of Fire
  5. A Crisis of Revelation 
  6. The Shadow of the Abattoir
  7. No Way Back Just Through 
  8. Fall into your Hands
  9. From Dawn to Decadence
  10. The Phalanx 

Score: 10/10
In the Court of the Dragon is out October 8 via Roadrunner Records. Pre Order here.
Review By – KJ Draven (Twitter). Instagram: @kjdraven

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