How long does a ‘return to form’ have to last until it’s just ‘form’? You all know Trivium’s story at this point: the highs of instant classic Ascendancy, the troughs of The Crusade and Vengeance Falls and the stunning redemption of 2017’s The Sin And The Sentence and last year’s What The Dead Men Say. Weirdly, despite all of this contextual weight, when approaching In The Court Of The Dragon you just never really ever felt in any doubt that Trivium 2021 would or could let you down. The band have just been so good, so reliable, in the last five years that you really shouldn’t be surprised to hear that (spoiler alert) this album is another exceptional effort.
The title track, ushered in after X’s 90-second intro, sets the tone perfectly. It’s an awe-inspiringly brilliant modern metal song, powered by dizzying drumming from Alex Bent, riffs Dimebag Darrell would have been proud of and a memorable vocal performance from Matt Heafy that swerves from full fist-swinging rage into a bombastic chest-swelling croon. Like A Sword Over Damocles follows, and is, similarly, everything you’d want from a metal band in 2021. Whether you’re a fan of Kreator, Killswitch Engage or Kvelertak it’s got a flavour for you.
Trivium have done radio-friendly material in the past, with varied results, but the anthemic and soaring Feast Of Fire might just be the very finest example of it they’ve ever produced. Yes, better than Dying In Your Arms or Until The World Goes Cold – it’s that good. By track four any concerns you may have had haven’t just been chucked in the bin, they’ve already been picked up by the dump truck and are now deep underground in some landfill plot in the middle of nowhere.
What’s great about Trivium in 2021 is that the flights of fancy they took without quite nailing in the past have now given them a scope beyond their peers. They’ve currently never sounded so comfortable with their identity, but they’ve also experimented enough as musicians over the years to give real depth and wide dynamics to their records. Matt’s smoky vocals on The Shadow Of The Abattoir shows the superb progression he’s made as a singer; Alex’s opening drum pattern at the start of Fall Into Your Hands is proof that he’s the drummer Trivium have always craved; and the cheeky little nods to both sleaze rock and black metal on From Dawn To Decadence exhibit a true love of every facet of heavy fucking metal.
Surely it’s time to change the narrative now? Trivium aren’t ‘back’, this isn’t a ‘return to form’; it’s what they’ve been doing for more than half a decade and it’s hard to see exactly who can compete with them right now. In terms of a band playing contemporary, modern heavy metal, Trivium have been the best for some time. They still are, and In The Court Of The Dragon is a fucking awesome heavy metal album. Was it ever in doubt?
In The Court Of The Dragon is release on October 8 via Roadrunner Records