CD Reviews – Courtyard of the Dragon Trivium

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(Roadrunner)

01. X

02. In the courtyard of the dragon

03. Like a sword over Damocles

04. Fire festival

05. A crisis of revelation

06. The shadow of the slaughterhouse

07. No return

08. Fall into your hands

09. From dawn to decadence

10. The Phalanx

Despite being a permanent fixture in the metal world, TRIVIUM had more ups and downs to negotiate than most. Aside from a bad dose of Exploding Drummer Syndrome (now, thankfully, resolved), the group’s biggest enemy has always seemed to be the fickle nature of the modern metal audience. After being raised to the skies for the breakthrough record of 2005 “Ascending” then largely pilloried for its follow-up, “The crusade”, Floridians probably guessed that things weren’t going to go quite well. But the difference between TRIVIUM and countless like-minded groups that have emerged in the first decade of this century is that Matt Heafy, Paul Gregoletto and Corey Beaulieu were always have been around for a long time and, more satisfactorily, have always taken great pride in being a heavy metal band, with equal amounts of old and new school energy fueling fire.

Having stayed the course, TRIVIUM rightly overflowing with confidence “In the Court of the Dragon”. The speed with which this record was composed, whatever the circumstances, testifies to a commendable collective will to continue to create. This is the band’s third album in four years, and just like “Sin and punishment” and last year “What the dead say”, TRIVIUMThe tenth album of is a tumultuous explosion, stuffed with hooks and monstrously heavy with what you might as well call Total Trivium: a skillful amalgamation of all the greatest moments in the history of the group for two decades now, delivered with a surprising ferocity.

If you want to know what a band looks like with the wind in their sails, “In the Court of the Dragon” is a sustained 50-minute blast of the stuff. After a sufficiently important intro, the title song explodes at full speed, heavy bellowing with conviction found on riffs of pure aggro, before a wickedly ignorant breakdown and a few churned and discordant guitar lines worthy of PANTERA at their peak in the mid-90s. The instrumental midsection of the song is a blizzard of old-fashioned tropes, vicious thrash and post-metalcore precision. And then the final vocal chorus kicks off with a flurry of blastbeats, and even recalcitrant old cynics will be tempted to nod their heads. However, you cut it, “In the Court of the Dragon” is an absolutely heartbreaking heavy metal song. Like i say TRIVIUM Trust ridiculous amounts right now, and it shows.

The other eight tracks are just as good. “Like a sword over Damocles” is all fiery, choppy riffs and blackened shading, but with a rising chorus that reinforces this band’s mastery of hooking. “Fire festival” is two muscular, half-beat crunch to one part of radio-friendly arena colossus rock, with some of the finest bursts of incendiary lead work across the record (and there’s shit great solos here). “A crisis of revelation” is a whirlwind of melo-death and histrionic prog metal, but again adorned with a chorus of indecent size and weight. In the same way, “No return but through” is almost obnoxiously catchy, but the musical backdrop is a pristine blur of brutal power and virtuoso technicality. Meanwhile if it’s drama you want both “The shadow of the slaughterhouse” and “Fall into your hands” confirm that TRIVIUM absorbed so much of the exploratory efforts of IRON MAIDEN, SAVAGE and SANCTUARY as they have been of any more obvious recent influence. In fact, it is the absence of obvious landmarks that makes “In the court of the dragon” such an obvious career high for this most resilient modern metal band. Even the closing “La Phalange”, a song apparently written around the time of the fourth album “Shogun” (2008) but recently reused, sounds oddly definitive: the sound of a large band enjoying a long streak of superior form, with crystal-clear vision and the expert chops to perform it.

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