Written by Alex Stojanovic
In The Court Of The Dragon
Like A Sword Over Damocles
Feast Of Fire
A Crisis Of Revelation
The Shadow Of The Abattoir
No Way Back Just Through
Fall Into Your Hands
From Dawn To Decadence
Release Date: October 8, 2021
Label: Roadrunner Records
Matt Heafy - Lead vocals & guitars / Corey Beaulieu - Guitars & backing screaming vocals
Paolo Gregoletto - Bass & backing clean vocals / Alex Bent - Drums & percussion
Over the course of their first seven studio albums, Trivium were always experimenting and trying to find their feet. Records like Ember To Inferno, Ascendancy, The Crusade, Shogun and In Waves are now classics not just in the band's discography, but in metal as a whole. With Vengeance Falls and Silence In The Snow, the band started experimenting with a more accessible direction, which both alienated a lot of die-hard fans, but brought a whole slew of new fans in the process. However, with the release of The Sin & The Sentence in 2017, and the addition of Alex Bent, Trivium experienced somewhat of a rebirth, resulting in one of the most successful albums of their career, and giving them some of the biggest and best shows of their career, and the direction they took on that album was continued on What The Dead Men Say, and it continues once again on In The Court Of The Dragon.
The first thing I noticed with the new album is that many of the song titles sound very fitting for Shogun, so that got the old-school fan in me excited. The fact that there's also three songs that reach over the 7-minute mark would definitely raise the excitement of any old school fan, because that tells us we're in for some tracks that will take us on a journey. Things lead off with the intro track "X" composed by Ihsahn, who is no stranger to composing intros for Trivium, as he also composed "Snøfall", the intro track on Silence In The Snow. The title track then drops like a nuclear bomb with its full-scream intro, and twists and turns through tempo changes, blast beats, vicious screams and a heroic chorus. The song literally feels like a tsunami crashing in your ears. It's then followed by the more traditional metal sounding track "Like A Sword Over Damocles", with a stadium-like hook in both the main riff and the chorus. There's no denying that the chorus will be another huge sing-along moment in a live setting.
From a performance standpoint, the band are as tight as they've ever been, if not tighter. Matt Heafy's vocals keep getting stronger on each record since Silence In The Snow. The stellar guitar work between him and Corey Beaulieu, consisting of not only bludgeoning riffs, but heroic harmonies, and searing solo trade-offs is worthy of placing them in the pantheon of the greatest guitar duos of all time alongside Murray/Smith (Iron Maiden), Tipton/Downing (Judas Priest), Peterson/Skolnick (Testament), Mustaine/Friedman (Megadeth) and Robertson/Gorham (Thin Lizzy). Of course, you can't forget about Paolo Gregoletto, who is just a genius on the bass, and has been a major part in bringing the Trivium sound to where it is today, as he handles a majority of the songwriting. At the same time, Alex Bent adds his stamp with his signature blistering drum fills and solos.
Of course, any Trivium album would be incomplete without a song that has a slightly more accessible vibe. In this case, "Feast Of Fire" fits into that category best, and it can sit proudly alongside some of the band's biggest and best accessible songs like "Strife", "Built To Fall", "Until The World Goes Cold" and "The Heart From Your Hate". Both "No Way Back Just Through" and "From Dawn To Decadence" bridge the gap between radio-friendly and heavy because from section to section, they switch between heaviness and melodic so seamlessly. As the drum intro to "A Crisis Of Revelation" came kicking in, my first thought was that it was the sibling to "Betrayer". Structurally, there are some similarities between the two songs, however this song tops it with an even catchier chorus and even catchier riffing. However, there aren't any black metal tremolo riffs to be found like on "Betrayer".
Trivium have become known for their pretty spontaneous transitions in songs. Since The Sin & The Sentence, several of the more aggressive and more technical songs featured transitions that in my honest opinion didn't always make sense. Some songs have some unexpected riffs that come in very abruptly, especially when there's a very noticeable tempo change between two riffs, and sometimes, these sorts of transitions can kill the overall flow of the song. However, that's only a minor flaw. Aside from that, if The Sin & The Sentence and What The Dead Men Say had you salivating excessively, there's no doubt that In The Court Of The Dragon will have you salivating just as much, if not more. There's no doubting that this album will continue Trivium's ascendancy (pun intended) into the upper echelons of the greatest and most important metal bands of the last two decades.
Highs: There's so much quality contained in this album, to the point that it eclipses its two predecessors.
Lows: Minus the flaw about very abrupt transitions in songs, I can't really find any major flaws.
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