Dragonlord is the brainchild of Eric Peterson, longstanding guitarist of Bay Area Thrash legends, Testament, who seem to be quite dormant at present. The band’s origin is the direct result of Peterson’s desire to explore the darker side of Metal music. That desire, coupled with the wealth of musical talent available from bands in the area, has resulted in a fine slab of blackened, atmospheric Metal. It’s neither groundbreaking or earth-shattering, but by god, it is good. The exceptional lineup chosen for Peterson’s project includes members of Sadus, Nevermore, and Psypheria, which should prick the ears of Thrashers far and wide.
Since Dragonlord’s inception, they’ve conjured two full lengths: 2001’s Rapture, and the recently released Black Wings of Destiny. Somehow, I let the debut slip through the cracks, but from what I’ve read, Rapture was basically an album created by Peterson, and performed by his band, whereas Black Wings of Destiny features quite a bit more musical input from each of the members.
So what can you expect from a blackened Metal project featuring such valiant members of our Metal community? To be completely honest, you’ve probably heard this music before. If any of the songs from Black Wings of Destiny were to come up randomly on your stereo or into your headphones, you’d probably think it could be any number of Norwegian bands that rolled off the conveyer belt in the mid-to-late 90s. But it’s Dragonlord’s Thrash-influenced guitars, and the obvious level of expertise at which the members play, which sets them above the scores of other Dimmu-doppelgangers.
I’m particularly impressed with the drumming throughout the album. Jon Allen’s style is extremely tight, and carries the album with an incredibly strong gait from start to finish. Also of note is the nice keyboard work of Lyle Livingston. It’s never too pervasive or overbearing, and gives the album some much-needed interludes and texture. As far as vocals, Peterson’s screech fits squarely within the genre. They’re raspy and venomous when need be, and his clean delivery is surprisingly strong as well. All the elements are there to make Black Wings of Destiny a solid addition to any fan of the genre’s collection.
It’s probably worth mentioning, the Escapi release of this album includes two covers: Mercyful Fate’s “Black Funeral”, and Thin Lizzy’s “Emerald”. The Fate cover is decent enough, but I found myself thoroughly enjoying the Thin Lizzy cover. “Emerald” always struck me as a perfect candidate for a fierce Metal cover, and Dragonlord does an excellent job of bringing to life the songs’ triumphant feel.
In summary, if you’re looking for something fresh and new to tickle your Metal palette, Dragonlord’s latest might not be for you. However, if you’re tired of sub-par bands cloning the Norwegian blackened Metal sound of the 90s, and you’re itching for someone that does it right, this just might get you to pull out your leathers and sharpen your rusty halberd.