Dominia - The Withering of the Rose
MSH Music Group
Melodic Doom with Gothic elements
10 songs (68'32")
Release year: 2020
Reviewed by Alex
Surprise of the month

Getting ready to write this review I was doing some research on Dominia. This has been a habit of mine when I like the album after the first few listens. Go and explore the band, origins, past output, read others' opinions on the collective. I knew that the band was from Russia, read it in the promo sheet, and that has been one of the reasons I picked them from the stack. Always trying to give bands from Russia/Ukraine a listening ear and review platform, if I can. I was surprised then to see that Dominia is really not a new band and The Withering of the Rose is far from a debut for them. Four full-lengths prior to this one, the band has been in existence for almost two decades. Takes the bloom off designating The Withering of the Rose Surprise of the Month then, but since I am new to Dominia the tag is still allowed. Also, reading about Dominia's earlier albums as symphonic black/death, comparing them to orchestral Dimmu Borgir or Kalmah I hear nothing of the kind on The Withering of the Rose, and, to me, that was a major part of the album's appeal. There are really no black metal references whatsoever, and if symphonic/orchestral aspect was in Dominia's past it has been toned down significantly. In fact, all there is symphonic about The Withering of the Rose is the ubiquitous violin (a feature of Dominia in the past), and quality production where all instruments are given room to shine. But genre-wise, if anything, The Withering of the Rose is Dominia's take of romantic melodic doom in the vein of My Dying Bride, pre-all gothic Paradise Lost, Greek On Thorns I Lay circa Orama and to some extent Septic Flesh. The End Records also used to be a good home for the bands of this ilk. If you like good albums from that corner of Metal Universe, The Withering of the Rose is going to be a hit.

Going into the melodic doom direction, Dominia made it a point to emphasize fleshy dense guitar sound. Profound riffs laid onto double bass patterns in My Flesh and the Sacred River and The Light of the Black Sun, classic music inspired title track hoisting that instrumental on heavy foundation and showcasing drumming at the end, as well as multiple other moments on the album pointed that softening out was certainly not the band's intention. Yet regardless how much darkness is being plumbed or how much wallowing in pity the band does, all of their harsh stuff maintains attractive melodicism throughout (The Elephant Man). Songs like Nomoreus may start dreamy, go into ominous pregnant pauses, dip briefly into nightmare, and emerge dreamy again. Yes, there is some gothic approach present here, read below, but The Withering of the Rose is very personal, with less pompous or staged cathedral feeling, which made it a winner in my eyes.

Without its cleaner moments, however, The Withering of the Rose would have been incomplete, as softer slower female (?) voiced Suprema, tiny clearings in The Light of the Black Sun, or more extended ancient waltz and quiet acoustics of The Night and the Dark Room present the other, more romantic, side of the album. The narrative gothic, with saxophone to close, experimental The Song that You Don't Like is probably the only head scratcher, and anticipating that the band gave it a fitting title.

Any discussion of Dominia will need to list their violin use and vocals by Anton Rosa. As much as pushing the violin over the top can ruin the album, or sloppy violin playing can detract, Dominia has an absolutely fantastic incorporation of that instrument into their fabric. From smaller accents to leading role, you can't add or subtract anything in that department. Anton Rosa is not a deathly bottom growler, and his cleaner vocals are a little too dispassionate for me, but he is enough of a wounded animal showing vulnerability on the songs like The Light of the Black Sun, that overall I am convinced.

A good, well balanced melodic doom album, referencing the classics, is always going to score high in my book. How much this is a continuation of old or starting a new trend for Dominia, the more experienced fans will correct, but it will be worth it for me to look into the band's old discography to make my own conclusions and discover Dominia's past.

Killing Songs :
My Flesh and the Sacred River, The Light of the Black Sun, The Elephant Man, Nomoreus, The Withering of the Roses
Alex quoted 85 / 100
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