It’s hard to tell if In The Court Of The Dragon – album #10 from metalcore heavyweights Trivium – is a punch to the face because it’s genuinely aggressive, or just… Loud. Trivium may talk the talk, but they certainly don’t cause any damage on this ultimately weak effort.
The album’s title track is a regular shiner on the earholes – a cataclysmic serve of vomit vocals and guttural guitars bursting out from secular undertones – and it’s cool, but it’s incomprehensible. It doesn’t leave you bruised so much as baffled.
Sure, the album as a whole has all the ferocity you’d expect from a band of Trivium’s tenure – but its nature only serves as an opportunity for the quartet to remind fans of their technical prowess and stellar dexterity as performers. After a while, those wailing guitar runs and flying solos become predictable. They’re riffs for the sake of riffs… Looking at you, ‘A Crisis Of Revelation’.
The album’s saving grace comes in ‘Feast Of Fire’. It’s one of the few songs on Dragon to demonstrate any certainty of creative and thematic purpose. Bassist Paolo Gregoletto even said, “There’s always that one song you aren’t expecting when you begin writing a new album,” and indeed, this is it. The song doesn’t fit in with its siblings and may well have done better as a standalone release – its beefy basslines, quivering vocal melodies and organised guitar runs are stunning.
In their attempt to move forward, Trivium have moved back – all the way to bad Nordic ’80s power metal – ironically in a song titled ‘No Way Back’. To that end, for a song with a supposedly very personal narrative, it certainly won’t win any awards for original lyrics. It does teeter on the edge of potential, should Trivium wish to refine that marriage of classic metal and their own well-established, but seemingly waysided personality of sound.
It’s evident here that Trivium, though maintaining that dexterity of ability, lack the ingenuity required to gainfully take on such a frenzied (though admirably enthusiastic) lot of ideas. The only clarity is in those shamefully same-y guitar solos. By the album’s closer, ‘The Phalanx’ – a puff of self-important hot air – you’d be forgiven for having tuned out.
All things considered, Dragon is a largely incoherent muddle of ideas, borne from an admirable enthusiasm that sadly turned to exaggerated confidence.
In The Court Of The Dragon is out now via Warner
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