Trivium – ‘In The Court Of The Dragon’

By Ash Bebbington

Just ten months ago, Trivium’s last effort – ‘What the Dead Men Say’ was being lauded as one of the best metal releases of 2020 in various top 20 lists. Less than a year later, many fans did not expect to have their hands on their next record ‘In The Court Of The Dragon’ just yet. Safe to say, Trivium fans will feel incredibly spoilt once they hear this record because ‘In The Court Of The Dragon’ is one of the best releases the Florida metallers have ever put their name to.

Trivium’s late-career resurgence has been a joy to behold. Following early critical success with 2004’s ‘Ascendancy’ and the criminally underrated ‘Shogun’ (2008), the band entered a bit of a slump. The midsection of their back catalogue often felt lost, with the band meandering from style to style without ever really hitting the right note for almost a decade. However, since 2017’s ‘The Sin and the Sentence’, they have been on absolutely blistering form, and with the release of ‘In The Court Of The Dragon’, they’ve now hit three slam dunks in a row. If you went to a Trivium show tomorrow and only heard songs from this record and the two before it, it’d be difficult to feel too hard done by.

It’s worth mentioning as well that this is Trivium’s tenth album, and there aren’t many bands who are releasing some of their best work on album number ten. There are fewer still who have endured an extended rocky patch and responded by releasing three albums of the very highest quality. Off the back of these records, Trivium has to be considered one of the very best straight-up metal bands in the world right now.

Sonically, the album doesn’t do anything new or revolutionary. At its best, Trivium’s sound has never been about breaking new ground, but rather executing tried and tested sounds extremely well. That’s certainly the case here, and the execution is so good that the lack of innovation won’t bother you in the slightest. At this stage in their career, Trivium is absolutely world-class at putting together metal anthems that have the perfect blend of heaviness and melody. ‘In The Court Of The Dragon’ is full of songs that make you want to bang your head during the verses and bellow the chorus out at the top of your lungs.

Both as a unit and individually, every single member of the band is superb on this record. Drummer Alex Bent aside, the rest of the band has been playing together for more than two decades, and it shows. The guitar and bass lines all interlock and play off each other effortlessly, in a way that can only be achieved by playing together for such a long time. Matt Heafy delivers one of the best vocal performances of his career, and you can feel his confidence and belief in the quality of the material booming out at you through the speakers.

The songs on this record are instantaneous, give it a few listens and you’ll feel like you’ve known them forever. The title track is an absolute barnstormer, with frantic riffing, cymbal crashes flying at you from all directions, and an absolutely stellar chorus. With its relentless pace and mammoth chorus, ‘No Way Back Just Through’ is destined to become a pit anthem in a similar mould to ‘Down From The Sky’ from ‘Shogun’. ‘Feast of Fire’ and ‘The Shadow of the Abattoir’ dial the heaviness down a few notches, but don’t sacrifice a single ounce of quality, while adding some welcome variety to the record. The song lengths are pretty variable throughout the album too, so whether you prefer Trivium to bash out four-minute ragers, or put together longer epics, you’ll end this record feeling satisfied.

If you got off the Trivium train – or were never on it in the first place – now is the time to get back on board. This is a band that’s left its issues firmly in the past, has nailed down its signature sound, and is continuing to release records of the very highest quality. ‘In The Court Of The Dragon’ is one of Trivium’s best albums to date, their best outright since ‘Shogun’, and one of the finest metal releases of the year.

ASH BEBBINGTON

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