At what point do we stop hailing Trivium for being at the top of their game, and simply accept that this is just their new standard? With two of their best albums being released in recent years – The Sin And The Sentence in 2017 and What The Dead Men Say in 2020 – Trivium attempts a killer trilogy with In The Court Of The Dragon and sticks the landing.
In The Court Of The Dragon is out roughly 16 months after What The Dead Men Say, yet showcases an evolution that would take other bands years to accomplish. In The Court Of The Dragon is a furious storm of blinding melodies, anthemic choruses, and enough twists and turns that you might as well be fending off an attacking dragon yourself (much like those poor bastards on the cover). "Furious" is also the one word that can accurately sum up the entirety of In The Court Of The Dragon. Trivium delivers each and every song off this record with such intensity and power that, when matched live, may physically decimate the space it's being performed in.
Of course, fury is only part of the success of In The Court Of The Dragon. Where Trivium elevates their craft in this instance, and arrives what may be their best album to date, is in the songwriting and overall flow of the album. After the Ihsahn-composed instrumental opener "X," Trivium launches into three back-to-back-to-back tracks that effectively boil down to excellent progressive metal. Where the title track hits from all sides, "Like A Sword Over Damocles" ebbs and flows in its velocity as it gains traction to launch into the sky-high choruses of "Feast Of Fire." Then there are the ragers like "A Crisis Of Revelation" and the slightly blackened "No Way Back Just Through," alongside monster epics like the three-act closer "The Phalanx."
Despite three of the nine (excluding the brief "X" intro) tracks on In The Court Of The Dragon clocking in at over seven minutes, and the album as a whole running a solid 52 minutes, the time flies by. Trivium perfectly balances the numerous elements of each song to where they're memorable, but not repetitive. Even the nearly eight-minute "Fall Into Your Hands" weaves its way in and out of decimating death metal, mid-paced grooves, atmospheric sections, and finger-breaking leads while remaining evenly captivating.
In the end, In The Court Of The Dragon is incredible because it's a genuinely great album that offers something unique. Sure, the expediency at which Trivium released this and What The Dead Men Say is also impressive, but that isn't the accolade the album deserves. In The Court Of The Dragon is well-written, well-executed, and a bold new step in the Trivium world. It's an album that feels like a culmination of everything that came before it, but with so many new facets integrated that Trivium has (yet again) set a new standard for themselves. In The Court Of The Dragon presents a sound blown open so wide that it's almost impossible to guess at what might come next. Though with an album like this to listen to, who cares when that'll be?