|To blaze a new path into the dark unknown is a true test of the spirit. To conquer that path and pave the way for others is a grand achievement - one attempted by many but attained by precious few. Musical mastermind Eric Peterson, himself responsible for many grand achievements, remains at the forefront with his ability to lead the charge in new directions. Already an undeniable influence on every heavy metal guitarist on the planet, has succeeded in building yet another road into the future. With "Black Wings Of Destiny", the blackened majesty of Dragonlord has ascended to undeniably become America's preeminent symphonic black metal ensemble.
Borne from the mind of the founding Testament guitarist in 2001, Dragonlord's debut ("Rapture") drew astounding praise from all corners and demonstrated Peterson's deep commitment to exploring his darker musical passions. However, beneath all of the soaring accolades, the inevitable inquiries arose concerning the longevity and long-range vision of this new creation. Select live appearances helped to underscore their dedication, but as you will discover, "Black Wings Of Destiny" truly contains all of the answers.
This newest album proves to be a sharper and more fully-realized version of Dragonlord; sonically deeper and with greater nuanced detail than ever before. A contributing factor may be that Peterson gave more reign to his co-conspirators now that the band has taken full flight. Once again drummer Jon Allen and guitarist Steve Smyth have returned, and Peterson has recruited Derek Ramirez (who performed with Testament on the Demonic record) to properly fill the bass position following the departure of legendary journeyman Steve DiGiorgio. Also present once again is keyboardist Lyle Livingston, whose sophisticated orchestrations have progressed immensely from the debut. "The first record was basically all me, but everyone had a lot of ideas and I made it clear that those doors are definitely open," says Peterson. Also involved in the creative process were master lyricist Del James (Guns 'N Roses, Testament) and classical guru Charlie Storm. "It was a much more collaborative process this time," says Peterson. "All of the guys worked really hard on this record and it shows." The growth of the band unit becomes immediately evident in the rhythm section, as Allen's percussion duties in DRAGONLORD have progressed from a deadly whirlwind into a much more dynamic attack and bassist Ramirez proves to be an invaluable new asset with his ability to lock-in absolutely seamlessly.
Peterson and company took to European shores to record "Black Wings Of Destiny", joining noted producer Fredrik Nordstrom in Gothenburg, Sweden at his famous Studio Fredman. Tracks like the stunning "Sins Of Allegiance," the dark rocker "Until The End," and the Dante's Inferno-inspired "Revelations" are prime examples of not only the strength of the album, but also the bands far-reaching and rare ability to temper extreme fury with soaring majesty. Indeed, while the upper echelon of the US black metal scene bravely descends into raw chaos, never before has a band from these shores so ably captured the totality of the global black metal sound. The track "Sins Of Allegiance" proves a worthy example of that claim. The masterful epic sweeps through many shades of black along its journey, and remains one of Peterson's personal favorites. "It has so much detail in it," he says. "And it's perfect if you want to escape into our darkened world for a while."
Along with the growth of Dragonlord as a whole, the force and range of Peterson's vocal approach has greatly widened. During "Until The End", his clean vocals begin to introduce yet another impressive new asset of the band, and his gutsy singing performance on their version of Thin Lizzy's "Emerald" is truly impressive and unexpected. The curiously-chosen cover displays an entirely different side of DRAGONLORD, and while it isn't indicative of the band changing their style anytime soon, it leaves plenty of room to imagine what will come next. "The lyrics to "Emerald" fit the epic feel of the album," continues Peterson. "It may not 'fit' musically, but it shows that there are no limits. We plan on doing this for a long time and the future is wide open."
Dragonlord has committed to global touring, and Peterson promises a live performance that, along with the expected audio intensity, will be visually engaging as well. "We're definitely looking forward to getting on the road and seeing the reactions," he says. "It's going to surprise people!"
Indeed, with "Black Wings Of Destiny" opening this grand new chapter, the sonic conquest of the Dragonlord has only just begun.