Overall Score: 8.5/10 Standout Tracks: 8/10 Riffs: 9/10 Musicianship: 9/10 Pros: Another excellent Trivium album | The best tracks are among their very best Cons: Doesn't quite maintain the sky high standards all the way through
Trivium have always been a band to spend their time wisely; Never more so than over the last eighteen months since the beginning of the Coronavirus outbreak. When previous album What The Dead Men Say was released in the depths of the first lockdown, it was a sorely needed pick me up for Trivium fans across the UK and beyond. Since then, there have been many notable moments. The first major full band production stream of note by a metal band (A Light Or A Distant Mirror). Other full band streams and countless other streams and activities on Matt, Paolo and Alex’s Twitch channels. A new band headquarters, paid for by the proceeds of A Light Or A Distant Mirror. Most recently, two new singles (In The Court Of The Dragon and Feast Of Fire). And, as it turns out, they also managed to fit in recording another album towards the end of 2020.
So, here we are, In The Court Of The Dragon. The tenth Trivium studio album. In an era when bands regularly take between two and three years per album, to release ten albums in just over 17 years is testament to Trivium’s creative powers, and the support of their longtime musical home Roadrunner Records. To kick things off, it seems like Trivium analysed the heaviest track from previous album What The Dead Men Say, the thumping Amongst The Shadows And The Stones, and thought “we like this, lets go even heavier”. The result would be In The Court Of The Dragon’s first single and title track. Kicking in after the obligatory instrumental intro X, the listener is hit with one of the heaviest songs Trivium have ever written. Aptly for a song with dragon in the title, Matt Heafy sounds like he’s positively spitting flames on a rapid fire vocal delivery while the rest of the band thunder around him. Coupled with a hook filled chorus delivered over blastbeats, and one of the mosh calls of the year (The stars have died and the heavens go up in flames!), it is easy to see why some have hailed it as one of Trivium’s best ever songs.
The album’s second single and fourth track, Feast Of Fire, changes tack completely. It’s radio friendly Trivium at their absolute best. Something like Until The World Goes Cold but with double the power of the earworm guitar lines and the chorus (you’ll be singing it for days). Sandwiched between the two singles is the wonderfully titled Like A Sword Over Damocles. Perhaps THE standout track in an album full of quality, there are elements of everything that make Trivium great here. The mammoth chorus, sections of full on modern thrash, face melting solos, furious sounding verses. It’s all here. You will reach for the repeat button, time and again.
Other parts of In The Court Of The Dragon are perhaps less instant hits, but no less rewarding. The vibes of Shogun loom over certain parts of this album with the longer, slightly more progressive sounding tracks compared to efforts on other recent albums. A Crisis Of Revelation feels like the counterpart to The Defiant with the Ascendancy style riffing. The Shadow Of The Abattoir is a slow burning epic that is very clever lyrically and some guitar lines and a key change that are bordering on Maiden-esque. More instant earworms come in the shape of No Way Back But Through, a galloping track with another massive chorus built around Matt Heafy’s vocal melodies and Alex Bent’s drumming. As with the previous two albums, Trivium have also saved some of the best for the end of the album. This time around it’s in the shape of The Phalanx. A song that has been around since the Shogun writing sessions, finally brought fully to life a dozen years later. It was very much worth the wait. It’s dark, it has that unmistakable Shogun complex riffing style and grandiose feel to it but melded to very much feel part of the world of Trivium in 2021.
Finally, the time may have come where it will be commonly accepted that Trivium have managed to put together three excellent albums in a row. It is very rare for a band to be hitting their full peak on albums eight, nine and ten, but seemingly that is exactly what Trivium have done in the last few years. Let’s not forget either, that this is a band ten albums deep and still only in their mid 30’s, seemingly with so much more to come. In The Court Of The Dragon is the third act in the trilogy of The Sin And The Sentence and What The Dead Men Say. An excellent continual evolution, rather than revolution, and one that should see Trivium continue to ascend to the heights of the last few years and beyond.
Who knows, perhaps in ten or twenty years time, these three albums will be looked on by fans as favourably as the magical Metallica triad of Ride The Lightning / Master Of Puppets / …And Justice For All.
In The Court Of The Dragon is released on the 8th of October through Roadrunner Records. Pre-order the album and pick up other merch from the band’s official EU Store.