ALBUM REVIEW: Trivium – In The Court Of The Dragon
Trivium are undoubtedly one of the greatest metal outfits to come out of the 21st century.
Bursting onto the scene as mere teenagers with Ember to Inferno all the way back in 2003, the band have released so many era-defining records such as Ascendancy, Shogun, The Sin and the Sentence, and What The Dead Men Say – with the latter being released less than 18 months ago.
It is quite remarkable that a band that plays music so masterful and intricate can bring out records of this quality so regularly. It only speaks to the talent and hard work of the Trivium members that has seen the band rightfully headline festivals all across the world.
Upon the album’s almost surprise release, after WTDMS was only released a year ago, the band’s first single and title track In the Court of the Dragon seemingly caught everyone by surprise. Interestingly, it does the exact same in the album as after mysterious instrumental opener X (which concludes with a fantastic dragon roar), the first vocals of “In the court of the dragon” hit you like a tonne of bricks.
The song is based on a short story from Robert W. Chambers’ book The King. The chorus is definitely one of the highlights of this track. Lead singer/guitarist Matt Heafy’s roars are certainly here to destroy you, as is the pure chug on the breakdown – it’s a proper headbanger. Heafy’s cleans are also another clear highlight in this track and are used perfectly.
Three tracks in, you can already tell this is another album of absolutely massive riffs. There are about five different riffs you could point out in Like A Sword Over Damocles and write a paragraph on. Corey Beaulieu’s solos are beautiful to listen to, Heafy’s added riffs are a perfect cherry on top too.
As with all Trivium records, there’s so much going on, but they are blending the instruments perfectly. Not many artists can perfect the art of storytelling through instrumentals alone, but Trivium have mastered it – and this is only further proven throughout the record.
The band’s second single, Feast of Fire, comes up next and has interestingly been the best received out of the singles released for this record. The song takes a simpler structure compared to Trivium’s previous songs.
“I’m crawling through the feast of fire” Heafy sings in his ever-improving clean vocals, accompanied by a classic Trivium tapping riff – it definitely feels more like a single – especially when compared with the huge tracks to follow in this LP.
From the first couple seconds of A Crisis of Revelation, Alex Bent’s drums are on point. If you want to try and appreciate that man’s talent, then try finger drumming any of the tracks on this record. This album has just further emphasised the fact that Trivium need to keep a hold onto this drummer for as long as they can. However, the track itself feels like one of the weaker tracks on this record, with the vocals failing to live up to the pedestal the instrumentals on this record had set.
The best track of the record comes up next, in the form of The Shadow Of The Abattior, beginning with a welcome, softer opening 90 seconds of warming Heafy vocals, and a brilliant riff that almost feels reminiscent of Alter Bridge’s Blackbird. The passionate chorus is more than justified – you can tell Heafy means every word he says.
Halfway through the track, an immense heavy section comes in – it is absolutely monstrous and juxtaposes perfectly. “From the depths, I will rise” Beaulieu roars, and trust me, you will physically feel what he’s saying, it’s that brutal. To finish the track, the lead riff that began the song comes into play and ends this masterpiece of a track perfectly.
No Way Back Just Through has a booming riff that kicks the crap out of you – figuratively, and probably literally during their raucous live show. The track also features one of the band’s best choruses, and this track is probably the perfect anthem to a circle pit, as it just doesn’t take its foot off the gas.
One of the three tracks to come very close to touching the eight-minute mark follows next in the form of Fall Into Your Hands. There is a nice touch of the use of a string section, as well as a lovely bass line taking the centre stage by the often-unheard Paolo Gregolotto. It’s probably a slightly weaker track on the record as the Trivium formula is starting to get a bit predictable at this point, with the huge instrumentals beginning to sound quite similar to one another.
Towards the back end of the album, From Dawn To Decadence’s almost-deathcore style vocals at parts is a nice switch-up, but the track fails to make a real impression despite being a clear effort to switch things up a bit.
Lastly, the final single and album closer The Phalanx (which is also a collaboration with the video game Elder Scrolls). Although titled The Phalanx, it is not quite clear what the lyrics are about – as is the case with numerous tracks on this record.
In Trivium‘s defence, the songs are more about the instrumentals, but occasionally it would be nice to have some lyrics that appeal to your emotions, rather than vague lyrics such as “I’m the source of your hate – only yourself to blame,” because let’s be honest, what does that really mean?
In spite of this, In The Court Of The Dragon is a great record we would thoroughly recommend for any fan of metal – classic or modern. Trivium are a band right now who are at the peak of their powers and will hopefully continue to be so for a long time to come.
The quartet are masters of their craft and have been churning out fantastic record after fantastic record for fun these last 18 years. They are slowly etching their legacy into the metal history books, and In The Court Of The Dragon does that legacy no harm.
Standout Tracks: In The Court Of The Dragon, The Shadow Of The Abattior, No Way Back Just Through
For Fans Of: Alter Bridge, Gojira, As I Lay Dying
Written by: Joe Loughran