Hard Reviews 4
by Martin Popoff

Dragonlord Rapture
(Spitfire)

Dragonlord is a long-suffering side idea platter from Testament's Eric Petersen, featuring a bunch of capables (notably Testament touring axeman Steve Smyth and bass journeyman Steve DiGiorgio) bringing Eric's black metal blood to the surface. The result is what amounts to precise, melodic evil black metal in the style of Dimmu Borgir or peripherally along the lines of Cradle in death Midian mode, at least with respect to the axe tones. The guitars, no surprise, are precise and slightly death thrashy, with many parts topped by rudimentary, clear and separate keyboard washes (that suck). Eric handles the vocals with vicious aplomb, proving that he could easily front a supergroup of this sort if need be. I can see the purists calling this an intrusion and an unimaginative though competent copy, a sort of demonstration, but through these ears, all I hear is a team of pros who have mastered the commercial end of black metal. I guess those statements are two of the same. An emotionally detached high grade of 8.
Rating 8

Blue Oyster Cult Reissues
(Legacy/Sony)

About as good as you can get with just offering more of everything, this recent set of four Blue Oyster Cult reissues (Blue Oyster Cult, Tyranny And Mutation, Secret Treaties and Agents Of Fortune) should shed some light on a magnificent corner of rock art that was once moderately exposed, now methodically by measure being forgotten. First of all, these albums are enigmatic, daring, eccentric, obstinate, anti-social, mysterious, thin, cold and above all, highly literary. So the first smart move is the inclusion of the band's highly inventive lyrics, a set of obtuse observations (half the time about fanciful conspiracy theories) that could only come from a packed coffee house of squinty-eyed New York cynics, which is the fab case all over these '72 to '76 albums, dahling. Second, Lenny Kaye has written intellectualizing liner notes, for one of the rare bands who actually require a level of study above the raw meat of other rock 'n' rollers. There are also photos I've certainly never seen before, and to top it all off, many, many bonus tracks, most of them loopy, whimsical full-blown mind-blown originals. Songs like 'Sally', 'Mommy', 'Boorman The Chauffer' and 'Donovan's Monkey' demonstrate even more intense creativity than the heaping gobs of it all over the official releases we've lived with for all these years. All told, four to five bonus tracks per, with Agents offering a cool thematically linked spate of demos, songs that took advantage of the band all receiving modern four track machines at the time with which to tinker back at their respective bases.
Rating 8, 8, 9, 10

Hard Reviews Page 5