By Greg Maki
While many bands have been reluctant to release records during the pandemic, preferring to put it off until they can tour properly to promote them, Trivium went ahead with the April 2020 release of its ninth album, the superb “What the Dead Men Say” (read Live Metal’s review). And in addition to becoming streaming stars, the Florida-based band used its COVID-induced absence from the road to write and record album number 10, which is coming to us less than 18 months after the last one. To me, that gave “In the Court of the Dragon” major points before I even heard a note, and my estimation of the record only increased as it played out before my ears.
While its previous two releases brought together all the various styles of metal the band has dabbled in over the years, playing as sort of career retrospectives with new songs, “ITCOTD” is a more focused effort. It’s Trivium at its heaviest since “In Waves” (2011), its most ambitious and progressive since “Shogun” (2008). This record is pure metal through and through—“metalcore” is just a memory here.
Each song, even the seemingly accessible and straightforward “Feast of Fire” or “No Way Back Just Through,” comes with a barrage of thrashy riffs, screaming leads and aggressive rhythms. Vocals lean to the harsh side more than the melodic, an appropriate and effective choice given the nature of the music. Three tracks run past seven minutes—“The Shadow of the Abattoir” in particular should be absolutely epic in concert halls—yet every song, no matter the length, takes the listener on a journey full of unexpected twists and turns.
The varied attack of “WTDMS” was a large part of its greatness, but the more narrow approach of “ITCOTD” seems to have sharpened the songwriting and performances even further. Twenty-two years and 10 records in—neither of those seems possible, but here we are—Trivium has hit yet another high-water mark, setting a bar for pandemic-era records that may never be reached.
Roadrunner Records – October 8, 2021