REVIEW: TRIVIUM – “In The Court Of The Dragon”
Dawn 'Mama Love' Brown
Despite having sold literally millions of records, supported a slew of bands, and had headlining tours alike, Trivium is still one of the most underrated bands in the metal industry. They’ve earned critical acclaim and commercial success over their career putting out 9 mind-blowing studio albums that have continued to surpass the ones that came before. With Matt Heafy on vocals and guitar, Corey Beaulieu taking guitar and rough backing vocals, Paolo Gregoletto contributing bass and clean backing vocals and Alex Bent adding in his stellar drumming, Trivium clearly has honed their craft and developed an overarching sound due in no small part to Heafy’s distinct vocal tone and range.
Embarking on their next chapter with the release of their 10th full-length studio album, ‘In the Court of the Dragon’, Trivium yet again unleashes their signature combination of thrash and metalcore to their rabid fans. Reminiscent of both ‘The Sin and the Sentence’ and ‘What the Dead Men Say’, ‘ITCOTD’ is somehow more high-powered, aggressive, and technical, yet lacks some of the more melodic aspects of albums past. The tracks abound with tempo and time signature changes which draw you in and give you lots of surprises. The prowess displayed in the writing and arrangement makes the tempo and time changes blend seamlessly.
Opening the album is “X” which presumably is a nod to this being their 10th offering in their discog and is a little over a minute of a slow intro that sounds eerily similar to Gregorian chants but then explodes into “In the Court of the Dragon”, one of the first singles to be released. As with every song in this collection, it is intricately written and arranged and showcases the amazing musicianship of every player. With a running time over five minutes, “Like a Sword Over Damocles” packs its own knock-out punch with plenty of time to work in an outrageous guitar solo coupled with Bent’s ridiculously energetic drum performance. These guys must be exhausted after live gigs.
Another single released before the full album drops is “Feast of Fire”, definitely a stand-out among the bunch. It’s riff-heavy, has an amazing bassline, and has a super catchy chorus. “A Crisis of Revelation” slaps you in the face with a frenzied mix of drums that gives way to Heafy’s rough vocals, interrupted by a clean vocal chorus and another vigorous guitar solo breakdown. “Shadow of the Abbatior” has a completely different feel with a slower, more melancholy opening which precedes a slightly more lively chorus but becomes a thrash fest at about the 4-minute mark. Being one of three tracks that clock in at over 7 minutes, the thrash fest lasts a good bit of time. “No Way Back Just Through” is another one with a super catchy chorus that repeats throughout the song. It’s definitely memorable. “Fall Into Your Hands” is another track that falls over 7 minutes and is a veritable hurricane of sound. It’s fast, it’s heavy and it can lull you into a false sense of chaos in the most mundane of situations. The breakdown is kind of Tool or Deftones-esque and contains, again, another set of scorching guitar solos. “From Dawn to Decadence” has a decidedly tamer beginning which tricks you into thinking this is a softer song in comparison. Then the vocals start accompanied by those thundering drums and you know you’ve been tricked! The song eventually descends into a whirlwind worthy of a top-level mosh pit. “The Phalanx” rounds out the album, another magnificent 7-minute plus opus of clean and rough vocals, masterful drums and guitars, and exquisite writing and arrangement. The production team on this project should win awards, NGL. At about the 5:40 mark, the song takes a left turn and goes on a tangent, again allowing a different vibe to come through at the end.
‘In the Court of the Dragon’ not only delivers the classic melodic thrash/death metalcore fans of Trivium have grown to love, but it also has tons of other influences and nuances that fans of other subgenres will appreciate as well. Its sound is diverse, it’s flawlessly produced, and will prove to be a cornerstone of their catalog.