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Domain - Stardawn Review

by Daniel Walker

Whoa, why don't these guys have more reviews? They've been making music since the late 80s, but there are only reviews for three of their old albums on the band's website. Granted, there are quite few of each, but they're mostly in German. It appears that after 2003's The Sixth Dimension they fell out of the critical eye, despite being greeted by 25,000 Korean fans in 2005.

So, how does a band who has been around for so long and has gained such a substantial following become lost in the shuffle? That's an intriguing question, but one that can be answered. Domain is a talented, symphonic/melodic metal band with plentiful helpings of hard rock and power metal, but they don't sound very fresh and accessible. Theoretically, it's because of something as simple as the vocals: they're well-executed and gritty, but come across as generic. Even though the band implements fairly modern ideas into their songwriting (at least on Stardawn) such as mild blastbeats and multi-tracked vocals a la Nightfall-era Blind Guardian, they sound terminally stuck in the 80s, and that's not a big selling point to the majority. Traditionalists will always exist, though, so this band will definitely keep their fan base as long as they don't try anything too off-kilter.

But I digress; the album at hand, Stardawn, is a compositionally fierce piece of work that stands proud on its own. Glancing at the cover, the 1994 movie Stargate comes to mind, and indeed the title track talks about aliens coming. Were these guys inspired by Pagan's Mind? Still, this isn't a concept album per se.

The drumming and axework on this is totally insane. You can hear all kinds of fills, blastbeats, and diverse patterns throughout the disc and the hi-hat and cymbals keep a nice sense of pacing. Axel Ritt, who also produced this album, is a competent shredder whose tone has that dirty, bar-room sound to it. Of course, you can hear that textbook power metal sound too, but probably the most power metal aspect of Stardawn is the lyrics. What hard rock band do you know of that would sing about the rise and fall of a vampire clan(Shadowhall)? Even so, that's really something you'd expect out of a band like Cradle of Filth. Seems like a lot of lighter bands are getting shades darker nowadays.

The keyboards don't really feature too much potency, but you can hear little cameos and background touches. The song "Headfirst into Desaster" probably shows the guitar and keyboard work at its best. There's some killer dueling in this song offset by keyboard solos reminiscent of Kansas and Boston. At the end, it even sounds like the old tune "Take Me Out to the Ballgame."

Stardawn isn't the most groundbreaking album out there, but you've got to respect a band with this kind of longevity who stays true to their roots. This is surely another hit in the books for LMP.

1. All in the Name of Fire (4:44)
2. Temple of the Earth (6:22)
3. Don't Pay the Ferryman (4:07)
4. I Ain't No Hero (4:01)
5. Headfirst Into Desaster (5:21)
6. Stardawn (9:24)
7. Crystal Stone Island (Warpath Pt. II) (5:20)
8. Help Me Through the Storm (4:40)
9. Shadowhall (25:18)
Chapter I- Gathering of the Damned (2:09)
Chapter II- Under the Bloodmoon (3:31)
Chapter III- Open the Gates (3:47)
Chapter IV- Shadowhall (4:18)
Chapter V- Vampire's Ball (4:26)
Chapter VI- Hell Dimension (4:19)
Chapter VII- Love Under Ice (2:47)

Originally written for metal-archives.com

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