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Testament goes Dimmu Borgir - 52%

MacMoney, November 5th, 2002

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.