One can't help but wonder what part of the brain black metal derives from. Somewhere in the deep recesses of the mind, it's thinking, "Okay, let's take vibrating-speed drums, creepy guitar riffs, and growl like a possessed demon about the world disintegrating. Perfect!" Yet that's exactly what seemed to spawn longtime Testament guitarist Eric Peterson's Bay Area band DragonLord. Five years ago, he recruited his former bandmates, guitarist Steve Smyth and bassist Derrick Ramirez (who's also Peterson's cousin), added Psypheria keyboardist Lyle Livingston and Sadus drummer Jon Allen, and dressed them up in black leather and creepy makeup to help exorcise his thrash-influenced version of symphonic black metal. Black Wings of Destiny, the band's second release (out 6/6/06), shows the members fine-tuning their delivery. Peterson's unholy shriek explores apocalyptic battles, grimoires, and antediluvian warriors (thanks to the help of lyricist Del James), while classical arrangements played out on a keyboard string section give the music a decidedly theatrical flair. Though black-metal purists may scoff at the pop-friendliness of using keyboards, it's one of the main elements that makes this extreme music also more aesthetically appealing. Before long, you'll be humming about netherworlds too.
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