For almost two decades, the Metalcore movement has been gaining a major presence in the Metal scene, consolidating both in sales and in the line-ups of many great festivals in the world, with great names such as Killswitch Engage, As I Lay Dying, Bullet For My Valentine and Trivium. Developing their own signature sound that gives them way to create their own identity in a subgenre where a large part of their bands tend to adopt plenty of elements in common.
In recent years we have seen how many of these bands in order to reach a more massive audience have been modifying their sound to make it more digestible for a “Mainstream” audience, this has been the case of bands such Bullet For My Valentine, minimizing their Thrash Metal influences and Bring Me The Horizon adopting many elements from Pop to achieve this. Which is honestly not bad at all, but still the identity of the bands gets seriously compromised.
This has not been the case with Trivium, who over the years under the leadership of Matt Heafy has remained as one of the most consistent bands in Metalcore scene, releasing high-quality albums while being completely faithful and loyal to their own identity, preserving their strong influences inherited from Thrash Metal that became a major part of their sound since the releases of the already legendary albums The Crusade and Shogun.
Without sacrificing their musical identity at all, Trivium in recent years has embarked on a crusade with the mission of enhancing and perfecting their sound, adding high doses of progressions, technique and complexity while maintaining a fresh, authentic and powerful sound. We can witness this in their album The Sin And The Sentence released in 2017 and successfully capitalized 3 years later with the great release of What The Dead Men Say in 2020, where Trivium has been surpassing themselves with each new release, being a great responsible for this the great Alex Bent on drums, who since joining the band has maximized their sound on both in-studio and live performances.
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Trivium quickly got to work to develop what would be the successor to What The Dead Men Say and just after a little over a year and a half after the release of this latest album, we have in our hands In The Court Of The Dragon, the band’s tenth album that surprisingly not only continues the path of evolution of the band, but also surpasses what was brought to us in its predecessor last year in a way that is as overwhelming as it is fascinating.
The curtain of Trivium’s tenth album opens up by the hands of the mighty Ihsahn of Emperor with «X», an epic intro that appears in fade-in and prepares us for what it’s about to come, generating a great expectation to give way to the explosive entrance of «In The Court Of The Dragon», song that gives title to the album and is Trivium in full power, highlighting the brilliant and constant rhythm changes that make this song a sonic roller coaster where the band displays the technical maturity they have acquired over the years.
We continue with «Like A Sword Over Damocles», a great song very impregnated by an overwhelming Groove that promises to be a success in the band’s next live performances due to the tremendous hooks in both riffs and chorus. Once again the speed changes are present adding a great dose of dynamism to this song that in its faster phases comes to even flirt with Thrash Metal.
«Feast Of Fire» follows a very similar dynamic to its predecessor track with brief rhythm changes, but this time Trivium’s Groove side is more present. With also a huge potential to be a future fan favorite song to sing along at live shows.
Trivium kicks things off again at full power with «A Crisis Of Revelation», which highlights the work on drums and guitars with forceful riffs, amazing bass lines by Paolo Gregoletto, unexpected solos and a masterful vocal performance of Matt Heafy both in the enveloping chorus as in the most groundbreaking screams.
Lowering the revolutions and density of this album a little bit «The Shadow Of The Abattoir» appears, a versatile song where at its beginning Matt both on guitars and on voice seems to take an active break from the devastation of previous tracks without neglecting the high quality in his interpretation, regaining strength in the powerful chorus of this song. But, when reaching the bridge section, Trivium ignites its engines and the speed is present again giving way to a section where the melodies and great solos of Corey Beaulieu shine on the lead guitar.
«No Way Back Just Through» has a title that pretty much sums it up. A powerful direct attack to your head packed with epic riffs, great blast-beats and even breakdowns where the band exposes a very high quality of instrumental execution.
«Fall Into Your Hands» continues with the dynamics of previous songs with the subtle difference that here the great Thrash Metal influences of the band predominate enormously, without overlooking sections that alter the pattern of the song a little bit but at the same time enhancing it, serving at the same time to lay the foundation for the epic guitar solos presented here. It’s also the longest song on the album, but being so well crafted, its 7 minutes and 45 seconds feel very short.
Coming to «From Fall To Decadence» we find a song that begins with a cool mid tempo riff that hides an extremely heavy and fast verse that without any warning increases the revolutions of this great song where once again, the great technical display that supports the great diversity presented on this immense album.
Everything that has made In The Court Of The Dragon an album for the ages so far is majestically capitalized on «The Phalanx», the song that served as the last single prior to the release of this album and incidentally also as the soundtrack of the video game The Elder Scrolls Online. This track presents in an enhanced way all the key elements of the previous tracks of the album with hooks in both riffs and voice, a memorable chorus and sections loaded with rhythm changes as insane as they are exquisite and unexpected, where the band unleashes its wildest and most technical side. Closing both a great song and a great album in the most glorious way possible.
In The Court Of The Dragon represents not only one of the best albums of 2021 (Most likely the best), but also in technical aspects the best Trivium album to date. This album simply does not have weak points and exceeds in technical aspects what has been seen so far in previous albums by far, at the same time that it enriches its discography, motivating us to revisit the great Trivium catalog to understand and appreciate the tremendous evolution and maturity that this band has managed to forge throughout its years of trajectory. Serving in turn as the definitive proof that it is possible to achieve a perfect balance between a technical sound, with commercial direction and especially, an honest Metal with an elite level of execution that has guaranteed them a well-deserved place among the hardest hitting bands in modern Metal.
Final score: 10/10