Album Review – Vampiric / The Magic of the Night (2019)

An insatiable lust for blood and passion for the night will grow inside you to the sound of the debut album by this American Symphonic Black and Thrash Metal one-man army.

My dear creatures of the night, it’s time to join a Symphonic Black/Thrash Metal one-man army formed in 2018 in Phoenix, Arizona, in the United States that goes by the straightforward name of Vampiric in his quest for blood with the released of his debut full-length opus The Magic of the Night, offering us all nine original songs that exhale darkness and the sweet smell of fresh blood. As a matter of fact, the true beginnings of Vampiric can be traced back to 2008, when the band’s mastermind, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Nik Williams started writing music and recording demos at the young age of 14, eventually forming a full-bodied band and opening for renowned acts like Mayhem, Abigail Williams and Keep of Kalessin. This live lineup disbanded after a while, but Nik kept experimenting with music until the release of his debut EP Death Tore Through, in 2018, ranging from the project’s core Black and Thrash Metal to distinguished styles like Gothic, punk and classical, further developing all that depth and diversity this year with his newborn spawn The Magic of the Night.

The Cradle of Filth-inspired riffs and keys by Nik kick off the phantasmagorical opening track A Death in the Throne Room, an old school Extreme Metal tune reeking aggressiveness, madness and obscurity; and his slashing guitars keep dictating the rhythm in the faster and more exciting Vampire Blood, where not only we’re treated to poetic lyrics (“I wake from a deathlike slumber / And gaze at the harvest moon in the night sky / Bloodlust, the children of the night sing / As I fly above the land of broken hearts”), but once again Nik generates a cryptic paradox between his atmospheric keys and enraged growls. And if you’re still hungry for human flesh it’s time for over six minutes of pitch black darkness and blood in The Full Moon Rising, with his keys sounding as strident and piercing as usual, while at the same time he kicks ass on drums, resulting in sheer adrenaline in the form of Symphonic Black Metal that sounds and feels hypnotizing and ritualistic form start to finish.

Adding the frantic riffage of Thrash Metal and the complexity of Progressive Metal to his core obscurity, Nik delivers Gothic, This Masquerade, a true masquerade ball feeling like two or three songs in one where our dauntless one-man band goes full thrasher on vocals, reminding me of Exodus original singer Paul Baloff (R.I.P.) at times. Of Bloodlust and the Moon is another display of bestiality and insanity the likes of Cradle of Filth, Dimmu Borgir and Marduk where Nik’s raspy gnarls and scorching riffs steal the spotlight, and with its last piece being an instrumental shredding extravaganza for our total delight; followed by Nosferatu, filling the airwaves with three minutes of an intense feast of Thrash and Black Metal by Vampiric where the guitars breathe fire while drums are played with tons of violence and rage, all spiced up by Nik’s demonic vociferations.

Then pounding his drums manically Nik offers another circle pit-catalyst entitled The Witch, with its heavier-than-hell riffs being perfectly complemented by somber and piercing background sounds, leaning towards classic Blackened Thrash Metal. And besides, songs about witches are always very enjoyable and fun to listen to, don’t you think? In Carpathian Lycan Curse our talented musician puts the pedal to the metal in a hurricane of cryptic keys and berserk shredding, also presenting elements from bands like Slayer and Misfits added to his traditional sonority, while its catchy chorus is an ode to all wolf-men of the world (“Carpathian lycan curse / Condemned to darkness and blood thirst / Carpathian full moon curse / The wolfs bane blooms to my return”). Lastly, closing the album we have the 11-minute aria of darkness titled The Magic of the Night, living up to the legacy of the emperors of long and intricate extreme music compositions such as Cradle of Filth and their infamous Bathory Aria. Nik does an amazing job throughout the entire song, elevating the electricity of all instruments to new heights and also making the whole ambience absolutely enfolding and Stygian until the very last second.

If you’re more than eager to join Nik’s Symphonic Black and Thrash Metal coven, simply go check what he’s up to on Facebook, and don’t forget to purchase your copy of The Magic of the Night directly from his own BandCamp page. After listening to such well-crafted, aggressive and melodic album of extreme music, you better be prepared to feel an insatiable lust for blood growing inside you, dragging you into an endless night and keeping you away from sunlight for all eternity. Well, in the end, who doesn’t want to be an immortal, bloodthirsty creature of the night, always accompanied by a good dosage of metal music, right?

Best moments of the album: The Full Moon Rising, Nosferatu and The Witch.

Worst moments of the album: A Death in the Throne Room.

Released in 2019 Independent

Track listing
1. A Death in the Throne Room 6:27
2. Vampire Blood 3:33
3. The Full Moon Rising 6:16
4. Gothic, This Masquerade 7:22
5. Of Bloodlust and the Moon 4:20
6. Nosferatu 3:06
7. The Witch 4:40
8. Carpathian Lycan Curse 6:40
9. The Magic of the Night 10:53

Band members
Nik Williams – vocals, all instruments

Album Review – Dragonlord / Dominion (2018)

Exploring themes of darkness owning and influencing these times we now live in, here comes Eric Peterson’s fantastic Symphonic Black and Thrash Metal project with their first album in 13 years.

After long and excruciating 13 years, San Francisco, California-based Symphonic Black/Thrash Metal horde Dragonlord, the brainchild of Testament’s own Eric Peterson where he’s able to showcase his darkened side, is finally back with a brand new opus, titled Dominion. Serving as the long-awaited follow-up to their 2005 release Black Wings of Destiny, but taking the fantasy and storytelling to a whole new level, Dominion explores themes of darkness owning and influencing these times we now live in, and things that have come to pass. In addition to Eric Peterson on vocals, guitar and bass, Dominion features the musical talents of Lyle Livingston (Psypheria) on orchestrated keys and pianos, Alex Bent (Trivium) on drums, and notable fantasy metal singer Leah McHenry (Leah) on female vocals and choirs, who has performed and recorded with members of renowned acts like Blind Guardian, Nightwish and Delain, among others.

Featuring a stunning artwork painted by Berlin-based Israeli artist and designer Eliran Kantor (Testament, Iced Earth, Sodom), Dominion is a dark fantasy fan’s musical dream, exploring everything from Nordic history to Lord of the Rings, with its eight songs creating a deep and heady musical journey rife with meaning and menace, from the blackest and loudest recesses of Eric Peterson’s mind. If you’re a fan of the superb work done by Mr. Peterson with Thrash Metal titans Testament, you might be surprised by how visceral, epic and imposing his guitar sounds with Dragonlord, not to mention his devilish gnarls, turning Dominion into a must-have for fans not only of the Symphonic Black Metal genre, but also for anyone else who admires high-quality and vibrant extreme music.

The always mesmerizing sounds of thunder and rain open the gates of the underworld in the intro titled Entrance, before Eric comes ripping with his ass-kicking guitar, all embraced by an epic atmosphere and suddenly exploding into the fantastic title-track Dominion, presenting insane keys and an imposing background choir, while Alex proves why he’s one of the most talented drummers of the current metal scene and Eric sounds bestial with his enraged roars. Put differently, this full-bodied and very detailed lesson in Symphonic Black Metal is what Dimmu Borgir should be doing, and their sonic onslaught of piercing and Stygian metal music goes on in Ominous Premonition, getting faster, more demonic and absolutely amazing, with the keys by Lyle being a thing of beauty while Eric not only growls like a demon, but his riffs and solos are also majestic as usual.

In Lamia it’s quite impressive how Eric’s riffs and Lyle’s keys and orchestrations blend so perfectly, with guest vocalist Leha providing a touch of delicacy and passion amidst all devastation blasted by the rest of the band; whereas epicness and lust beautifully flow from all instruments in the stunning Love of the Damned, a Symphonic Black Metal ballad where Eric’s vocals get more introspective and deep (and I would simply love to see them performing this song live). Then it’s time for a journey to the mighty North in Northlanders, with the bitterly cold riffs by Eric and the gripping keys by Lyle being enhanced by Alex’s precise and potent beats, while the ambience remains as epic as possible in a flawless hybrid between Black Metal and Symphonic Metal.

Dragonlord Dominion Ultimate Dragonlair Merch Bundle

Then featuring Tilen Hudrap (Vicious Rumors, Wartune, Thraw) on bass, The Discord of Melkor is perhaps the most Black Metal of all tracks, a dark symphony of classic and vibrant metal music that sounds very dense thanks to the brutality blasted by Alex on drums, whereas Serpents of Fire, the last song in Dominion, is just as fantastic as the rest of this very detailed and thrilling album, with Eric growling and gnarling demonically while Alex and Lyle generate a massive wall of symphonic and violent sounds, resulting in over eight minutes of a captivating and bold sonority for our total delectation, not to mention how its climatic ending gets closer to the Thrash Metal by Testament, therefore adding an extra pinch of adrenaline to the overall result.

If you think that my words are not enough to describe the music in Dominion, I highly recommend you go watch “The Making of Dominion” video series on YouTube (split into parts one, two and three), and in order to get more details about Dragonlord simply go visit their official Facebook page. In addition, from all album versions and bundles available in the market, apart from the digital options you should definitely take a look at the physical combos available from the Spinefarm Records’ webstore, especially the beyond superb “Ultimate Dragonlair” merch bundle, featuring the LP gatefold version with a large-size 20-page lyric booklet, the CD digipack, a copy of the unparalleled “The Burner” comic book, and a stylish T-shirt. But be aware that, once you enter the dangerous dominion of Symphonic Black and Thrash Metal ruled by Eric Peterson and his Dragonlord, there’s no turning back.

Best moments of the album: Dominion, Love of the Damned, Northlanders and The Discord of Melkor.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Spinefarm Records

Track listing
1. Entrance 2:34
2. Dominion 5:36
3. Ominous Premonition 4:40
4. Lamia 4:15
5. Love of the Damned 5:21
6. Northlanders 6:45
7. The Discord of Melkor (feat. Tilen Hudrap) 7:09
8. Serpents of Fire 8:09

Band members
Eric Peterson – vocals, guitars, bass
Lyle Livingston – keyboards, piano, orchestrations
Alex Bent – drums, percussion

Guest musicians
Leah McHenry – female vocals, choirs
Tilen Hudrap – bass “on Discord of Melkor”