By the time Floridian thrashers Trivium released their second album, Ascendancy (Roadrunner Records) in 2005, the band were locked firmly into an upward trajectory which promised nothing short of global domination. Unfortunately, things didn’t quite work out as planned but the four-piece still remain one of the most successful metal acts around today despite having to constantly push against an unrelenting tide of haters who decided sometime during the mid-late ’00s that Trivium just weren’t metal enough any more or something.
Now, you’ll have to whisper this quietly to most metalheads over the age of forty (or alternatively, don’t even bother trying and just leave them to grumble to themselves about how the nineties ruined everything), but the band’s latest album In The Court of the Dragon (Roadrunner) is a hands-down winner. Being capable of following up last year’s critically acclaimed What the Dead Men Say (Roadrunner) with something equally – if not more – impressive might come as a surprise to many but the band have been promising this type of consistency in quality for years.
A glorious combination of voracious energy and ridiculous earworms, the band’s tenth full length studio release opens appropriately enough with ‘X’, an ominous choral and orchestral intro composed by legendary Emperor frontman Ihsahn. Kicking things off properly, the title track is a supercharged venomous thrash attack with groove, breakdowns and a chorus not a stone’s throw from Soilwork territory. ‘Like a Sword Over Damocles’ possesses a distinct Slipknot groove, a memorable chorus that wouldn’t have sounded out of place on any recent Anthrax album and some reliably nimble-fingered fretwork from guitarist Corey Beaulieu.
‘Feast of Fire’ boasts a killer riff and a powerful mid-paced groove while ‘A Crisis of Revelation’ harks back to the band’s earlier material. Opening like a Steve Harris-penned Iron Maiden epic, ‘The Shadow of the Abattoir’ is a moody slowburn, vocalist Matt Heafy showing off his clean tones as well as his rougher edge as the song explodes into life like you always knew it would.
‘No Way Back Just Through’ is the living embodiment of its title as it simply ploughs through everything in its path. Drummer Alex Bent leads the way with ‘Fall Into Your Hands’, another jagged, fearsome attack with a smooth centre, bassist Paolo Gregoletto keeping pace with his bandmates with some nice four-string finger work. ‘From Dawn to Decadence’ goes a million miles an hour before breaking down with some more Corey Taylor style vocals for its hook-laden chorus. Objectively speaking, seven minute closer ‘The Phalanx’ is all kinds of awesome. A steely groove riff, huge melodies and great vocals from Heafy all contribute to a wonderfully balanced piece of progressive thrash.
Massive riffs, sweeping solos, huge choruses, grinding breakdowns, symphonic backing and striking Renaissance style cover art, In The Court of the Dragon does everything you expect, but better.
Buy the album here: https://trivium.lnk.to/itcotd
8 / 10