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Rapture is what you get when a group of legitimately talented musicians attempt emulating a sub-genre they know absolutely nothing about save for the most basic, rudimentary trappings. A few admittedly killer moments through no conscious effort on the band's part alongside mountains of forced vitriol, all neatly confined into the symphonic black metal template. Dragonlord bangs the tracks out as swiftly as possible, slaps some corpsepaint on and calls it a day. Hey, the kids won't be able to tell the difference, right?
The funny thing is, Peterson and his crew somehow manage to play it way too safe, essentially replicating the Testament formula of the time with a slight dissonant edge to the melodies. This might sound amazing to some, but trust me, Dragonlord isn't the American answer to Dimmu Borgir you may be hoping for. If anything, this is closer to Old Man's Child, as there is an obvious emphasis on the cascading riffs and Peterson's tortured wails as opposed to mountains of orchestration. The band tries so strenuously to craft a diabolical atmosphere, but their effort is largely in vain, Livingston's hokey keyboard lines all but assure that.
After a pretty tawdry keyboard-driven instrumental opener (always gotta have that, right?) the band segues into the staggering, amorphous mess that is "Unholyvoid". The listener might as well be riding on a merry-go-round at this point, because that is exactly the ambiance summoned by the twinkling keys. Peterson does his best Dani Filth impersonation in a vain effort to maintain the extremity of the whole ordeal as the guitars aimlessly plod away in the background. The song desperately tries to regroup after the cleanly-picked middle break, but everything implodes in on itself yet again. Other than some great nebulous lyrics in the Limbonic Art vein (which are sadly never revisited throughout the rest of the album), it's a complete waste of energy and talent.
This pattern generally repeats itself ad nauseam throughout the majority of Rapture. Peterson is still a very skilled guitarist, so we get a decent thrash break here, a head-bouncing verse there, but nothing approaching the incensed abhorrence Dragonlord is truly aiming for. "Tradition and Fire" picks up at about three minutes in, but it sure takes it's damn sweet time getting there. The only major exception to this depressing routine is "Wolfhunt", during which we find the band striking the magic formula - albeit through no conscious effort on their part. It's concise, dials the keyboards back, and contains a scorcher of a main riff. In "Wolfhunt" one can truly see what Dragonlord are capable of, but what else can it do but serve as a monument to frustration?
The rest is rather scattershot regarding variety, with the occasional cleanly-sung passage and some admittedly cool screeching wails during the title track. On the whole, Peterson's blackened yowls are at least tolerable, getting the venomous point across without becoming tiring or distracting. Regardless, the true highpoint regarding the performances is Allen's acrobatic delivery on the kit. As the rest of the band purposelessly wanders about, he is in his own little world, dominating the drums akin to an octopus on LSD. It helps distract the listener from the lack of potency elsewhere, but only for so long. Even DiGiorgio's normally outspoken and vehement bass is buried, only peeking above the surface during the intro of "Wolfhunt".
I suppose that fans of Spiritual Black Dimensions might find something of value on Rapture, as Livingston has no problem emulating Mustis' cornball delivery on the ivories. Even at that, the keyboards aren't nearly prominent enough to satiate the average fan of that bombastic style, so Dragonlord finds themselves uncomfortably stretched over the stylistic abyss - and their wings have been clipped.
I picked this album up at a record store for about $7; it was a very good deal for the price. I don’t think this the best album ever recorded, but I don’t think it sucks either. This release is good for what it is, symphonic thrash with a small amount of black metal. There is no getting around that this sounds like Dimmu Borgir, but in his defense he is just working with what he has, I personally would have suggested a different vocal style because that is what makes it sound the most like Dimmu Borgir. Based on previous reviews, people thought that the keyboards were overused in this album. If you are expecting black metal than you would agree, but to me it just sounds like the keyboard use is just a few notes in the very back of the mix. Other than the song ‘Unholyvoid’ and maybe ‘Spirits in the Mist’ but other than that the keyboard use is minimal, they use keys in much the same way as Emperor did. As far as the guitar playing goes it has the best of any symphonic metal album I have heard, unfortunately there are basically no solos we all know that Eric Peterson can play guitar really well, so he should show it, you almost never hear a solo in a symphonic metal album and a change would be nice. Basically as long as your not expecting a Transilvanian Hunger or you don’t think your too “tr00” for this it’s a good album. I would say this would be a good album to give to someone if you were trying to get them into black metal and not if you are way into the genre.
So Eric Peterson decides to make a solo record and comes up with one of the strangest projects in the metal scene to date. Why anyone in a band that has found a massive amount of success in recent days with amazing records like "The Gathering" (I'm actually not even a fan of the early thrash years) would create such a pompous project that shows that the man a)knows nothing about black metal and b)would sell out his rather high street credibility on such a goofy record. Sure, the band here collects all sorts of great musicians (guys from Sadus and such) and the production job is meaty as fuck...but this is just silly as hell. The riffs actually manage to be brutal in places and Eric doesn't sound so bad on the mic but the keyboards are so fucking annoying it's painful. I can't even say that many of the songs are memorable beyond the initial moment of impact. It's like Dimmu with twice as much balls, and half as much brains. I can't say that the combination is totally a winning one...
The opening "Unholyvoid" might have been more powerful had Eric dropped the keys. "Judgement Failed" has some rather powerful riffing as well. Sadly, other songs like "Tradition and Fire" and "Rapture" are just dripping with so much dumb melodrama that it's hard not to elicit a chuckle from the audience. The songcraft here is a notch above Dimmu - but there is nary a definative hook to be found. It's not horrible...but I'm not going to remember a note of this when it's done. Unlike "Funeral Fog"...this just don't catch me beyond a riff here or there. This isn't as perfectly crafted as recent Testament...nor is the drama anyhow convincing.
Many people will love this for the rampant brutality despite the keyboards...but the project seems about as intelligent and sincerely evil as the Munsters. Eric Peterson is a proffessional, and this record sounds proffessional...but in the end it's nothing special nor will you be playing this again and again and again.
If you must have anything Testament related or want a band that sounds like Dimmu with more testicles and less brain cells...this is for you.
So, I finally sat down to listen to this entire album this evening, and this is what I've concluded:
Dragonlord are basically Testament with Dimmu Borgir-esque vocals. Over half of their members played in Testament at one time or another.
Eric doesn't really do any outstanding vocal work. Typical black metal vocals, but hey, at least they're done well.
The riffs are just fucking crazy. There's demonic shredding all over the place on this album. You can really see the thrash influence. The guitar-playing is always very hard and sharp, which helps keep the black metal edge in the songs. However, I did notice that during the beginning of 'Rapture', there's a ripped off Testament riff and that kind of put me off. Lucky for these guys that was at the end of the album. The bass isn't too impressive. But you can hear it and it adds that background heaviness so I have no qualms with it.
The drumming is just plain vicious. Dragonlord are one of the few bands that can do the bass-snare-bass-snare thing without boring me to death. When Jon does that it makes the songs sound even more lethal. He has a unique drumming style on this album; like black metal with a thrash twist (which is what the entire album is really).
Last, but not least, are all the symphonics. The keyboards give a really dark and almost medieval atmosphere to the music. Lyle does some fast fucking shit on the keys from time to time throughout the album and (as odd as it may sound) it almost makes the songs sound even more primal.
Now all we have to do is buckle down and wait for these guys to put out another album...
Best Tracks: Unholy Void, Spirits In the Mist, Wolfhunt, Tradition and Fire.
This album really is shows that some side project can be worthwhile.
The line up is basically Testament without Chuck Billy and with Keyboards. With Peterson singing a black metal rasp whats produced is some quite enjoyable black/thrash metal. The riffs are typical brilliant thrash riff from Peterson with the keyboards and the singing giving it that black metal feel(even a few blast beats!!!!!). What follows is some enjoyable listening which while not the most creative or dynamic is still good quality metal.
The intro is a nice piano peice that leads into the riff onslaught of Unholyvoid, which for me is a stand out track. Tradition and Fire is another great song full of riffs and blasts however after here the album stumbles. The following two tracks Born to Darkness and Judgement Failed while both good dont really add any new elements, this is forgiven though with the final three tracks finishing the album on a good note.
One complaint is that in parts the keyboards tend to dominate with cheesy lines and runs. All in all this is a nice little package which i think could be used as intro to people who havent heard much black metal and also a good listen for Testament fans.
DragonLord is Testament's Eric Peterson's side project. The line-up consists mostly of the recent Testament line-up only Chuck Billy isn't in it and a keyboardist (Lyle Livingston of Psypheria) is added. So when the basic line-up is composed solely of Testament there's no doubt about the musical style. Yep, 90's thrash metal but with an evil edge. Eric is the biggest mastermind behind DragonLord and he has lately stated that he likes lots of Dimmu Borgir stuff, especially 'Enthrone Darkness Triumphant' so it is not a surprise that the music sounds a lot like Dimmu Borgir of that era.
Most of the time the guitar riffs are sharper and don't flow as well as with Testament. The sharpness gives it the more 'evil' sound. There's one exceptionally great and a surprisingly melodic riff in the middle of 'WolfHunt'. The guitarwork is a lot like in 'The Gathering' but a bit more simplistic and but the leads and solos aren't that good (Smyth is no replacement for James Murphy) and the riffs aren't as catchy. I hope that Peterson has better riffs in his pockets for the new Testament album (the actual new album, not 'First Strike Still Deadly') Allen's drumming is good and precise but nothing really great he doesn't have to offer besides a really wild grindcorish blastbeat in 'WolfHunt'. Most of the songs are pretty fast-paced but there are a couple of tracks where the music stays mostly mid-paced like 'Born to Darkness' and 'Spirits in the Mist'. But the atmosphere they create isn't really evil or black metallish but more of an epic 'Dragonlord'like and that is mainly because of the keyboards, not because of the guitars or Eric's vocals so in the end it sounds a bit cheap.
Testament's guitarist Eric Peterson is the vocalist on DragonLord. He has done some backing vocals in Testament but this time he is giving everything he has. The outcome is (not surprisingly) Dimmu Borgirish. Eric is screeching and growling his guts out and there are also some effects used on his vocals from time to time. He also sings cleanly in a couple of songs but that has been heard before in some Testament songs and it is nothing new or great, just your standard clean vocals.
Then we come to perhaps the most dominant part of the album, the keyboards. Yes, the keyboards melodies are quite alike with Dimmu Borgir and Cradle of Filth and there are lots of them. Sometimes they stay in the background and give out a decent, spooky atmosphere but sometimes they just take the lead and end up sounding quite lame. Sometimes the keyboards just are all over the place and take too much space so the song falls flat on it's face.
Basicly 'Rapture' is a thrashier Dimmu Borgir with much better guitarwork. It is entertaining for fans of that kind of stuff but not a masterpiece or groundbreaking by anymeans. I was also let down by the fact that DiGiorgio's marvelous bass handling skills don't show on 'Rapture'. Still a good record for the people who like Dimmu Borgirish stuff and perhaps even for Testament fans.