4 of 4 thought this review was well written
Have you ever listened to an album and thought you were experiencing the soundtrack to a movie about medieval times? This is the impression I got upon first hearing Rapture
, the first album by Dragonlord. That's only after the opening track, though. The rest of the album is an aural assault of evil, symphonic black metal mixed with thrash, which makes a lot of since, seeing how this band is comprised mostly of former/current Testament members (this band was started as Eric Peterson's side project). In fact, all of Dragonlord (with the exception of Lyle Livingston) had played in Testament previously.
At the time, Dragonlord was:
Eric Peterson - Vocals/Guitars
Steve Smyth - Guitars
Steve DiGiornio - Bass
Lyle Livingston - Keyboards
Jon Allen - Drums
Now, it's safe to say that Dragonlord is definitely a thrash-rooted band, save a little technical death (Steve DiGiornio FTW). However, Peterson created Dragonlord to show his black metal influence. Even so, this album comes off as more of a thrash album with keyboards added in. Call it "symphonic black thrash", if you will. I might add it's quite funny to see Smyth and Peterson in the black metal get-up :p
Musically, nothing is really boring, although the keyboards do get a little tedious and don't do much except for to add to the "symphonic" mood. Steve Smyth is perfect for the band as a lead guitarist; his leadwork is always melodically and technically brilliant. Steve DiGiornio sadly doesn't do as much for Dragonlord as he did for Death, but then again, Dragonlord isn't a technical death metal band. Eric Peterson's voice is surprisingly good. I had no clue he even did vocals at all before I heard Rapture
, and it definitely fits the music. Jon Allen's drumming is damn near perfect.
From the start of the album (after the intro, of course), it struck me as a Testament CD. You can tell right off the bat that these guys play in another thrash metal band. Is that a bad thing? No. Is that what Peterson was aiming for? Not sure, but it still kicks some ass.
begins with "Vals De La Muerte", a sub-par keyboard opener that would fit well for the soundtrack to Reign Of Fire". Immediately you envision a noble warrior entering a cave to do battle with a dragon. Maybe this sets the "evil" mood for the album. I think the album could have done without it. Is it just me, or do the keyboards on this CD seem a bit too tedious?
Enter "Unholyvoid", which automatically makes me half-expect Chuck Billy to come in and bellow "Looooooowwwwwww"...
HOWEVER, this song strays a bit different from the conventional Testament sound (while still being rooted in thrash). I think the only thing that really changes that are the keyboards, which serve their purpose: to make this a symphonic album. They do well, but as I stated before, get boring after a while. How about that interlude, though? Peterson's and Smyth's tight, palm-muted picking are a delight to the ears, and lo and behold they go for a dual lead. Awesome. It's enough to get your pants sticky. The next track, "Tradition And Fire", starts off with another "Dragon Battle!" keyboard intro. This track is undoubtedly symphonic black metal. Only complaint? Where the hell is Steve Smyth's face-melting, orgasm inducing solo?!
"Born to Darkness" starts off with a somewhat happy-sounding keyboard riff, but the rest of the instruments quickly change that. Back to the evil atmosphere. This track again reminds me so much of Testament, but with crappy clean vocals. They remind me of a Metal version of a doo-wop trio, or maybe something you'd hear in some Tim Burton movie. Smyth's solo in this song (thank god!) is beautifully melodic and precisive. I wouldn't expect anything less from him.
What follows "Born To Darkness" is potentionally the albums most uninteresting track, "Judgement Failed". What saves it for me is Peterson's and Smyth's lead jam before the end of the track. BUT it can be argued that Steve Smyth is god and can save any song from near crappiness.
"Wolfhunt" immediately comes across as an Immortal-inspired piece. It is fast, lots of tremelo picking going on, and like most melodic/black metal, doesn't call for a solo. Still a good song. Only one problem: It's not full of any blasphemous goddamned blast beats! Not tr00 at all! D'oh, thrash drummers.
After "Wolfhunt" is done raping your ears, "Spirits In The Mist" brings back the symphonic side of Dragonlord, with even more technical procesion courtesy of the Smyth/Peterson experience. By now, you might realize that I absolutely love their style. There is a lot of great riffage going on, and I wouldn't expect anything less from these guys. This is definitely a highlight of Rapture
The closing track (and title track), "Rapture", begins softly, soothing your ears. Although it begins this way, you automatically know you're in for an ass-kickin'. And after 30 seconds, you realize you were right. This is perhaps the best song on the rapture, perfectly fitting for a title track. Smyth's solo in this song tops it all off. Beautiful sweeps, and an awesome lead line, then the band shifts back to more brilliant rhythm work then going back to the clean intro. The rest of the song reminds me a lot of Cradle Of Filth, and that's not necessarily a bad thing in some cases. If you want to bang your head, then it's awesome. If you want to burn a church, then it's blasphemy!
Lyrically, the album needs some help, it seems as if Peterson (and Del James, who co-wrote the lyrics) just threw random words together and tried to make it sound smart.
Astrophysics tipped the scale
Dimensional fractal nightmare
Celestial mechanics signal cleared
To find out is there life distant or near
Erase Hypothesis Quantum
Infinity frontier mission
Vortex behind the sun endeavors
Interstellar signal response
...what the ***?! What does it mean? Why does my brain feel immensly tight pressure when I think of the meaning to these lyrics? I'd much rather he wrote about being so pure and so cold, but props to Peterson for going for originality and creativism.
is definitely an entertaining listen. The musicianship is outstanding. I wouldn't expect anything less from a side project of thrashers. I would recommend buying it if you are a fan of Testament, Death, Iced Earth and Sadus, but don't expect to get anything similar (except for Testament, of course).
Consistent throught the album
Lyrically confusing to the IQ challenged
No blast beats! LOLZ!