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Trivium – In the Court of the Dragon Award winner

In the Court of the Dragon
by Mark Machlay at 11 January 2022, 6:23 AM

The Orlando, Florida juggernaut metal band TRIVIUM seem to be on quite the prolific streak releasing their latest, their tenth full-length studio album “In the Court of the Dragon” last October, less than 16 months from their previous full-length release. The band have come a long way from when they started in 1999, with singer and guitarist Matt Heafy playing a cover of METALLICA’s “No Leaf Clover” for his 8th grade talent show and being accepted into the band TRIVIUM started by original drummer Travis Smith after they played a rendition of another METALICA classic, “For Whom the Bell Tolls”. It would be a few years before they would release their debut “Ember to Inferno” in 2003 on Lifeforce Records but it was so powerful, it caught the attention of Roadrunner Records and they have been with the powerhouse metal label ever since. They would record their follow-up “Ascendancy” released in 2004 and the combination of dual guitar leads between Heafy and Corey Beaulieu, hooky melodic breaks and vicious throat screams brought them near instantaneous international attention and a whole new appreciation for virtuosic guitar playing. Unfortunately, they also got a few unfair comparisons to METALLICA that took them years to shake. But since at least since their fifth album “In Waves” in 2011 – in which they focused on uncluttered leads, drop Db tuning so Heafy could sing higher more comfortably, and more straight-ahead solos – they have come into a style all their own.

It seemed that TRIVIUM had every intention of getting to their tenth album as quickly as possible, foreshadowing the opening track of their ninth album with the track title “IX” and following the convention here on “In the Court of the Dragon” with the opening track “X”. They used the COVID-19 lockdowns as fuel for their songs, with guitarist Beaulieu stating that the material they were working on sounds “really pissed-off”. Bassist Paulo Gregoletto adds, “we decided to use the uncertainty \[regarding the lockdowns] to our advantage and to create without any of the limitations and commitments that would normally be eating away at our time in the jam room.” The title of the album and title track were taken from a short story by Robert W. Chambers that felt perfect for the time period as it was filled with dread and uncertainty. But instead of using that story directly, they created their own mythology and narrative around the music that they were creating. Gregoletto continues, “we decided to create our own myth to fit the music. Being free to create the story and write the music without a deadline, due to a once-in-a-lifetime event, really led to one of the most rewarding writing and recording experiences we have ever had.”

Honestly, I haven’t kept up with TRIVIUM as closely as I have wanted to in recent years and I may be late to the party, but it seems I missed the point when they went back to a much more brutal, thrashy style that I feel hasn’t really been strong since “Ascendancy”. It seemed like only yesterday I was jamming to “The Heart From Your Hate” on all the metal radio stations and that song was from two albums ago! But it seems they brought back a bit more brutality and thrashiness with their release just prior and amped it up to eleven on this record. Matt Heafy and Corey Beaulieu continue to fire on all cylinders considering how fast they released this album. The title track “In The Court of the Dragon” is them in their strong new style with a speed and vigor to the riffs and drumming that I haven’t seen in a long time. But to outdo themselves, they bring back some of Heafy’s iconic melodic clean singing for the choruses of “Like a Sword Over Damocles” but keeps the new speed and adds a progressive metal - worthy of DREAM THEATER - noodling section that sees the boys stretching their compositional and performances abilities to their max. Thankfully, they don’t venture into progressive metal tendency to overly bloat the lengths of the tracks with only three tracks past the seven minute mark, keeping most of them to a tight 5-6 minutes. With the one-two punch of 2020’s “What the Dead Men Say” combined with “In the Court of the Dragon”, TRIVIUM is back at the top of my list as bands that are pushing heavy metal boundaries to new heights.

Songwriting: 10
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 10
Production: 10

5 Star Rating

1. X
2. In the Court of the Dragon
3. Like a Sword over Damocles
4. Feast of Fire
5. A Crisis of Revelation
6. The Shadow of the Abattoir
7. No Way Back Just Through
8. Fall into Your Hands
9. From Dawn to Decadence
10. The Phalanx
Matt Heafy – Guitars & Vocals
Corey Beaulieu - Guitars
Paolo Gregoletto - Bass
Alex Bent - Drums
Record Label: Roadrunner Records


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