Since 2017 Trivium have been arguably the most on-form band in heavy metal. In addition to releasing what many consider career-best records in The Sin And The Sentence, and 2020’s What The Dead Men Say, the band have further cemented their status as a must-see live act. Recent shows have been growing even larger to the degree where once more the band are being tipped as future Download headliners, something which seemed to have passed them by. Now with the release of In The Court Of The Dragon, their second album in as many years, Trivium have pulled off a hattrick. So, to find out what led to this inspired trio of records and discover what keeps them driven ten albums in, we spoke to guitarist Corey Beaulieu.
“After Silence In The Snow (2015) we just had a moment which I don’t think a lot of bands really do. We had a self-look at our career and like what records we felt really captured Trivium,” Beaulieu reveals. Upon taking this moment of reflection, the band came to the realisation that what really made great Trivium songs was when they wrote for themselves and focused on being the best metal band they could be. He continues, “When we wrote Ascendancy (2005), we didn’t have any fans, we were just in a sweaty, shitty rehearsal space writing songs that we wanted to play.” When examining the three records released since then, it’s clear exactly what Beaulieu is talking about. Rather than trying to fit in with any specific sub-genre, or scene or even really experimenting all that much, instead Trivium set about cementing themselves as the kings of straight-up modern heavy metal. From the moment Matt Heafy roars into the title track to open In The Court Of the Dragon, listeners know exactly what they are in for: Unashamed, uncompromising, stomping heavy metal.
Of course a classic heavy metal record needs some classic artwork, and perhaps for the first time in their career Trivium now have that stonewall iconic art thanks to the work of Mathieu Nozieres. “We just gave the dude the title and I think some lyrics. When we saw it, it was just like holy shit, what the fuck?” Beaulieu recalls. “It was just like this is perfect, you know it captures what the record is all about and kind of gave me the vibes of when I was a kid and going into like a record store, seeing an album cover [with] no idea who the band is or what they sound like the album cover fucking rules so then buying the record.” The impact and statement of this artwork can’t be underestimated. From the moment the renaissance inspired painting was first revealed along with the title, fans’ anticipation grew even further for new Trivium music, it was another sign that things have definitely changed for the band and an indication that they had no intention of slowing down or changing their course.
Another key change in 2017 though was the addition of Alex Bent on drums who Beaulieu explains was key to unlocking Trivium’s creativity. “Hearing him play was the one big game-changer for us. It was like handcuffs being taken off, there was no limit to what we could play and write.” He goes on to explain how in years prior, while the band were able to write tracks like ‘Beyond Oblivion’ and ‘Sever The Hand’ there was a slight lack of confidence on if they could pull it off. With Bent’s arrival the band discovered they could now indeed let loose a little more with a heavier focus on crazy riffs and more interesting drumming patterns as heard on the likes of ‘Feast Of Fire’. This more free approach has meant that Trivium now have an extra edge over their contemporaries. We have always known that the band could write excellent songs with fist-pumping choruses, but with this new weapon an extra sense of urgency and hunger can be heard.
That hunger can also be seen in how the band managed to release the follow up to What The Dead Men Say in little over twelve months. Of course the pandemic played its part; however, such is the band’s current flow of creativity that new songs and ideas just kept on coming. Despite initially not really planning to make a record, the band found that jamming together in a room and throwing ideas around led to a far more naturally collaborative process. “There wasn’t like two years of touring to kind of conceptualise what we wanted to do with songs or direction. It was like, ‘Hey, we’re not touring, let’s try writing some shit! Let’s, let’s see if we can write a new album.’” Instead of individually writing songs to then be hashed out during more formal sessions, the band turned up to jam with a few ideas as what Beaulieu describes as ‘starting points’ to develop together in the room. “We were actually planning on doing this [approach] eventually for the next album down the road. Some of our favourite moments on our records are usually the stuff that we write in the room together as a group so we wanted to do more of that.” He continues, “‘A Crisis Of Revelation’ was like that. Matt said ‘Hey, I came up with this riff on my Twitch stream the other day, let’s make a song out of it!’”
This serves to underline the confidence the band are now playing and writing with. Thanks to a now settled line-up which is feeling more and more like the definitive version of Trivium with each passing record. With that in mind, are the band stretching even further and getting closer to those headlining slots at the world’s biggest metal festivals? “I don’t think we’ve ever been shy in the past of having grand goals.” Beaulieu admits. “I feel like we’ve always wanted to be like a festival headliner band, and maybe we weren’t ready for that type of thing. But I think now with the experience we have, the lineup, we’ve done enough shows, we’re ready for it when the time comes.”
He offers an honest assessment, and one which shows the maturity which Trivium have developed in recent years. They are a band who have been through the wringer at times and have definitely felt that pressure of trying to follow up records and maintaining the momentum required in today’s flavour of the month music culture. With their more recent work and again with In The Court Of The Dragon, they seem to have discovered their own way of adapting to that; simply by focusing on writing some of the very best modern metal songs. Here in the UK, we might have to wait a little longer to hear some of those songs live, but even Beaulieu struggles to contain his excitement at the thought of those shows. “When we do come back, it’s gonna be pretty fuckin’ epic!”