Review: “In The Court Of The Dragon” by Trivium

It seems surreal to be talking about the tenth studio record from Orlando Florida Metallers Trivium just a matter of weeks after songs from their nineth studio record “What The Dead Men Say” have recorded their live debut, such is the madness that the World has seen over the past two years. The album marks their third with former Battlecross and Braindrill drummer Alex Bent, something which has given them a level of consistency after many years of rotation and was produced by Josh Wilbur (Lamb Of God, Soulfly, Butcher Babies) and mastered by Ted Jansen (Rise Against, Evenescence, Green Day). There should also be no surprise that Matt Heafy’s friend Vegard Sverre Tveitan, the Norwegian multi instrumentalist, vocalist and composer better known as Ihsahn of Emperor, Peccatum and Thou Shalt Suffer fame is credited with programming, arranging, additional instruments and composition as he was for 2015’s “Silence In The Snow“…

…and as with that record, Ihsahn is also credited with the introduction piece, the wonderfully cinematic “X” that serves as the perfect palette cleanser to clear your mind before album title track “In The Court Of The Dragon” sees Trivium bring their signature style to the table. The cut is pretty timeless in the bands chronology and could have easily appeared anywhere along the line from 2011’s “In Waves” onwards. Vibrant solos and lead trade offs between Matt Heafy and Corey Beaulieu are immense while Alex Bent delivers an incredible percussive performance that really shows the value he adds to the group. Lyrically there are some typically Power Metal themes running through the album and even through there is none of that genre on display here, the album is very much a fearlessly creative one, full of little moments that you don’t hear over the first few spins that really enhance the longevity of it as an offering. “Like A Sword Over Damocles” is classic Trivium, with riffs a plenty and Heafy mixing his clean and unclean vocal parts nicely and even experimenting with vocal layering to give a harsh backing to some clean parts. Paolo Gregoletto gets a bass drive at the start of “Feast Of Fire” that adds that little something extra to a cut of staccato riffage with a huge arena filling chorus that is made for the pyrotechnics of the bigger stages. The longer songs give the band the opportunity to express themselves and the extended instrumental parts between the vocals on cuts like “A Crisis Of Revelation” are intricate and well thought out to give the record a much bigger and bolder sound to stunning effect. The melodies of “The Shadow Of The Abattoir” are simply jaw dropping as the band experiment with the time honoured combination of acoustic and electric sounds to create slow burning build ups that they can smash through the walls of with searing solos and unclean vocal venom. It is testament to them as musicians that they have created an album that only serves to enhance their reputation by pushing the envelope and building their sound while retaining the core elements of their sound that fans know and love, avoiding revolution and instead favouring evolution.

The shortest cut on the album, intro aside is “No Way Back Just Through” which clocks in at just shy of four minutes and sees those extended instrumental parts shortened to give the listener a distilled lethal injection of the Trivium sound while still having an ocean of sumptuous leads and a timely solo. As with all the songs here, the choruses have an almost instant sing-a-long factor so don’t be surprised if you’re joining in without realising it before the end of the first playthrough. “Fall Into Your Hands” has little moments of orchestration that add a je ne sais quoi while remaining firmly in the background so as never to be overpowering. Then you have the most interesting cut in terms of history, a reshaped demo from a fans favourite era in 2008’s “Shogun” that had been shelved after the album sessions in closing cut “The Phalanx“. While lyrically and thematically it would have fitted perfectly into that album, the way the bands sound has evolved over the past 13 years is in full evidence as sonically it would never have sounded like this, sans a vicious mid-track moment that is ignited like a funeral pyre with the flames of the solos. As the album plays out there is a clear synchronicity between this record and the previous two, it sounds like the evolution of the sound of 2017’s “The Sin And The Sentence” in terms of development over a trilogy that has seen the band’s star grow brighter in terms of musicianship, ascending from Kings to God like status in the Metal scene. A compelling, enthralling and gripping record that will see even the most hardened of Metal heads crack a smile from start to finish, this one is the easiest of contenders for not only critical acclaim but album of the year [9/10]

Track listing

  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 Darn To Decadence
  10. The Phalanx

In The Court Of The Dragon” by Trivium is out now via Roadrunner Records

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