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

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Heavyweight metallers Trivium knocked fans off their feet with the formidable 2020 release “What The Dead Men Say.” With a glowing review and the number one placement for Sonic Perspective’s favorite metal albums of 2020, this last opus noted Trivium rising to new heights with both technical complexity and melodic precision. Some listeners saw this as the start of a pivot in the band’s style, a natural evolution arising from decades of experience. Just over a year later, such suspicions were confirmed and expounded: new full-length release “In the Court of the Dragon” is as much an impressive follow-up as it is a milestone for the band, marking the band’s tenth studio album and signaling the foundation to a new era of Trivium.

Having formed in 1999, Trivium has entered their second decade of making music, and have amassed a bevy of accolades for their consistent prowess and inventiveness. Now Trivium shows that they are not content with simply resting on their laurels: “In the Court of the Dragon” shows the band stronger than ever, still reaching towards explosive heights and leaning into the well-received stylistic shift that delineated their prior release. This latest album draws from a wide realm of influences, incorporating elements of death metal, black metal, progressive metal, and even orchestral might alongside their long-beloved thrashing groove. The result is a highly diverse and promising collection of tracks, polished to near-perfection with stunning production and a thoughtful mix that accentuates the quartet’s solid chemistry. 

It took three years for Trivium to follow up 2017’s “The Sin and the Sentence,” but those three years of silence ended in an impressive one-two knockout punch. Offering up two airtight albums, “In the Court of the Dragon” follows just over a year after “What the Dead Men Say,” a display of both confidence and commitment to creation. The former bolsters this new era of metallic resonance, combining clean vocals and melodic leanings with a long history of unbridled aggression. Unforgiving howls split open tracks like “Like A Sword Over Damocles,” only to be shortly offset by a lingering chorus that speaks to a more tender side. This enigmatic exploration is heightened as guitarist Corey Beaulieu proves his mettle with a breakneck solo, absolutely explosive with its energy. In fact, ‘energetic’ may be the most apt descriptor of the album as a whole, with similar solos sweeping through “A Crisis of Revelation” while unrelenting drums serve as rallying thunder for “No Way Back But Through.” Given the sheer size of the undertaking, accented by multiple tracks that span north of six minutes long, there is little question of instrumental endurance as a cornerstone alongside unstoppable creativity. 

Not content with complacency, Trivium has also released one of the year’s standout singles, and nestled it right at the album’s exposition. Heat radiates from the fierce metallic energy of title track “In the Court of the Dragon,” brimming with blast beats and a rich bass presence. Lyrics add to the vivid imagery invoked by frenetic riffs, Beaulieu not once backing down from the fierce metallic edge put on by the two guitarists. Coupled with the stunning imagery on the album cover, “In the Court of the Dragon” calls upon the imagination to take the track beyond words alone and fully surrender to the world Trivium have created, an invitation that extends through the rest of the album. The introduction to this show-stopping track is an orchestral segment arranged by none other than Ihsahn (Emperor), and it is a composition which allowed for a haunting and ominous atmosphere to build anticipation with natural wonder. Each new passage is an opportunity to Trivium to show their potential, and with each subsequent song they consistently deliver. 

Elements such as infectious melody are present throughout, but the sheer magnitude of “In the Court of the Dragon” simply cannot be overstated. “Fall Into Your Hands” is an eight-minute epic, transitioning through distinct musical passages not unlike acts of a play as it lays out narrative splendor. It is a fantastically enthralling song, and listeners will find themselves ensnared by its dynamic movement and the passionate delivery of front-man Matt Heafy. “The Phalanx” is similarly impressive with its breadth, all but reaching to the heavens as Alex Bent leads with an irresistible percussive hook for the album’s closing hymn. The length of such tracks may at first fool the uninitiated into believing that a ballad lays in store: however, each of these offerings acts as a battle in its own right, letting Heafy take center stage with fierce charisma. Each verse of “The Phalanx” is evidence of his mastery over emotion, as crisp clean vocals are slowly overcome by impassioned shouts for one of the album’s most moving passages. The descent into his final guttural roar is both a curtain call and a promise of a band that is just getting started. 

With two albums released in such rapid succession, and with such a similar core to the sonic makeup, it is a relief to find that “In the Court of the Dragon” is sufficiently unique to stand alone from its earlier counterpart. It feels very much like a definitive statement of its own, particularly considering the further incorporation of other subgenres alongside the more nuanced songwriting. At times the overall tempo of the album becomes somewhat monotonous, despite its consistently punishing pace. This one downfall is mostly mitigated by an appropriately compact tracklist and its careful arrangement, coming in comfortably under an hour and balancing track length for ever-shifting expectations. 

Packed to the brim with fiery riffs, bombastic percussion, and an indescribable web of sonic influences, “In the Court of the Dragon” is perhaps one of Trivium’s most impressive offerings yet. Seasoned with decades of expertise, but no shortage of ambition, the flame of metal burns bright throughout this latest venture.

Released By:
Release Date: October 8th, 2021
Genre: Heavy Metal

Musicians:

  • Matt Heafy / Guitars, Vocals
  • Corey Beaulieu / Guitars
  • Paolo Gregoletto / Bass
  • Alex Bent / Drums

“In The Court of the Dragon” 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 Dawn to Decadence
  10. The Phalanx

8.9 Excellent

“In The Court of the Dragon” serves as a remarkable milestone from a long-renowned name in metal. Two decades of experience shine brilliantly in an album packed with ambition and creativity in equal measure, drawing from across the many plains of metal for a sound that is as captivating as it is distinct.

  • Musicianship 9.5
  • Songwriting 8.5
  • Originality 8.5
  • Production 9
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