Walking that fine line between symphonic black metal and 80's styled Bay Area thrash is the band Dragonlord. Their debut album from 2001, Rapture, is an exciting CD of sophisticated brutality, highly melodic and progressive, and features an all-star line-up. The thrash connection is pretty obvious, as the band is led by longtime Testament member Eric Peterson (guitars, vocals), and also features Steve Smyth (Testament, Nevermore) on guitars, Steve DiGeorgio (Testament, Death) on bass, Joe Allen (Sadus) on drums, and Lyle Livingston on keyboards. Pretty much a supergroup of musicians from the death and thrash metal world, here doing their take on European symphonic black metal in the grand tradition of Dimmu Borgir, Cradle of Filth, Old Man's Child, and Borknagar, this formula really works here on Rapture.
First of all, Peterson's black metal screechings are awesome, and he and Smythe weave plenty of intricate harmony lines and crushing riffs with their guitars. Check out the brilliantly symphonic yet heavy as hell bruisers "Born to Darkness" and "Unholyvoid", which chug along with speedy and intricate riffs, plus the dexterious keyboard work from Livingston. "Judgement Failed" motors along like a long lost Immortal track, fueled by Peterson's demonic vocals and Allen's manic blast beats. Don't think that this is all Nordic styled black metal, as the band does rip out some kickin' 80's styled thrash on "Wolfhunt", featuring blistering guitar work from Peterson and Smyth. Walls of orchestral keyboards meet up with pummeling guitar riffs and blistering rhythms on the evil sounding title track, a brutal piece that also has some spooky atmospheric moments as well.
Dragonlord would release their sophomore album Black Wings of Destiny in 2005, which is an even stronger statement than this excellent debut. If you like symphonic black metal with plenty of thrash tendencies, give Dragonlord a try.
1. Vals De La Muerte (Instrumental)
3. Tradition And Fire
4. Born To Darkness
5. Judgement Failed
7. Spirits In The Mist