Circa now, black metal is BIG, kids, and all and sundry want a piece of the cake. Case in point: Dragonlord and their Rapture debut. Notwithstanding Rapture‘s contents for a moment, Dragonlord’s resume is an impressive one, including a considerable percentage of the speed metal intelligentsia: guitarists Eric Peterson and Steve Smyth of Testament, who time has all but given up on despite the beyond-impressive lineups Peterson’s assembled and the great but largely overlooked records they’ve pumped out during the better half of the ’90s, with Peterson also handling vox and general conception here, not to mention tech-heads Jon Allen (drums • Sadus) and Steve DiGiorgio (bass • Sadus/Death/Testament/Control Denied/Iced Earth), who, after all these years, remain a cerebrally rhythmic force to reckon with. And the contents? No two ways around it, Rapture sounds a lot like recent Dimmu Borgir • that is, more theatrical, less speedy, and altogether better. Yet, for as keyboard-driven as Dragonlord are, Lyle Livingston’s keys never take center-stage and threaten to wash out the proceedings, which you could maybe still argue for in Dimmu Borgir’s case. Hardly essential, and mostly recommended for completists of the aforementioned individuals (seemingly, DiGiorgio’s credits grow with each passing month), Rapture nonetheless is a surprisingly creative endeavor for men otherwise unaccustomed to crafting the blackest of metals.

Spitfire Records, 101 Bay Ave., Hicksville, NY 11801; http://www.enterthedragonlord.com, http://www.spitfirerecords.com

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