I’m going to be up front with you. The genre of Black Metal normally doesn’t cut it for me. There are exceptions to the rule, mostly of the melodic, symphonic, or Thrash variety but the greater mass of Black Metal doesn’t get my river flowing. So keep that in mind as I continue on, because I was massively impressed by DRAGONLORD.
I only bought their second album because it was an Eric Peterson side project (for those of you who don’t know he is one of the guitarists from Thrash titans TESTAMENT) and curiosity always kills the Matt, you know. Luckily, “Black Wings Of Destiny” didn’t spell out disappointment for my love of the notoriously underrated Peterson, but in fact gave me all new reasons to enjoy his work.
I have a new appreciation for his work because on “Black Wings Of Destiny” the Thrash Metal influence is limited. It’s stretching the imagination to call this Blackened Thrash as the influence is there, but DRAGONLORD is almost all Black Metal. Granted, there is a significant amount of melody thrown into the mix (think of a far less epic version of DIMMU BORGIR for starters) that is mostly accomplished on the side of keyboards and some nicely installed clean vocals, but the true dark, cold, kvlt heart of “Black Wings Of Destiny” lies in the Black Metal realm. The riffing, the leads, the solos, the drumming patterns, and even the bass work are all stellar in their performances and writing, even for Black Metal.
I must say that significant props go to all the individuals on this album although there are a few true highlights to listen to. Jon Allen’s drum performance on “Black Wings Of Destiny” is fucking sick. His surgically precise and vicious attack on that kit is something that made my jaw drop as he swiftly met the challenge of speed and intensity for the album. Throw in a great chemistry of guitars between Eric Peterson and Steve Smyth (some of you might know him as the guitarist of NEVERMORE) as they trade off riffs and leads like they’ve been playing together for a decade, and some pretty amazing bass and keyboard parts to ground and lift the music to new layers and “Black Wings Of Destiny” becomes one of the must have Black Metal albums in anyone’s collection.
I think it is also worthy to note that when I had read that Eric Peterson was the one doing the vocals I cringed. As it turns out though, he is quite an accomplished ‘croaker’ when it comes to Black Metal vocals and combining those with his clean voice work out remarkably well. It was definitely a pleasant surprise to hear him pull them off without a hitch on the entire album with special regard to the single “Until The End” where he seems to shine brightest at the two.
“Black Wings Of Destiny” was a great shock and a massive addition to my collection. It is the first DRAGONLORD album for me to own so comparing it to their debut is not for me to do, but this sophomore recording stands amazing on its own. It’s a rare day for me to highly praise Black Metal as much as I will for this release, thusly making DRAGONLORD all the more important as a step for me. Both fans of Black Metal and those following Eric Peterson and going to massively enjoy this album.
Songs to check out: “Until The End”, “The Curse Of Woe”, “Blood Voyeur”.
(Online March 17, 2009)