Domain - Stardawn
Limb Music Products
Symphonic, Melodic Hard Rock / Metal
9 songs (69:53)
Release year: 2006
Domain, Limb Music Products
Reviewed by Al

By any stretch of the imagination, twenty years is a long time. I’ve only been on the planet four years longer than that. It’s pretty much the length of time that a new born baby takes to become an adult. Consider this and digest the fact that German melodic metal band Domain have been going for twenty years. Impressive…no? Yes, there are several acts that have being going strong for this length of time or longer; Metallica, Maiden, The Rolling Stones and Slayer to name but a few. However all these bands share something that Domain does not, they are all pretty much household names and a damn sight richer than you. Which leads me to one very simple conclusion, Domain really love what they do. Even just five years of hard slog as a band without achieving any sort of concrete fame or fortune would make even the most hardened of musicians staunchly question their profession and consider going back to the day job. But Domain never did, for twenty years they’ve stuck it out and done what they love. Stardawn is the band’s 10th album and the celebration of their 20th anniversary and whatever the quality of the music I have to bow my head in respect to these old veterans of the scene.

The five-piece incorporates a massive variety of nuances and styles into their impressively broad musical range. The solid bedrock of their sound is a light, melodic vein of metal which often treads the fine line between metal and rock. Layered on top of this are elements of progressive rock, symphonic metal, power metal, some startlingly technical guitar shredding and even the odd thrash riff here and there. There is so much going on that aside from a few common elements such as the vocals (which are solidly above par throughout) and keyboard inflections there is very little to tie the tracks together, each one encapsulates a slightly different tone and style.

Things kick off with All in the Name of Fire, the heaviest track present, which melds symphonic elements with Dickinson-esque vocals and some pretty astounding guitar work. When the band play like this they sound utterly contemporary and vital, bearing more than a little in common with progressive geniuses Adagio. Things then take a more hard rock bent on Temple of the Earth and later on Headfirst Into Disaster both of which are storming examples of classic rock. I challenge any rock fan of sufficient age to hear these tracks and not feel a stab of nostalgia for bad hair and worse spandex. Crystal Stone Warpath is pure power metal fully equipped with backing choir and a delicious sense of excess and reminds me of early Kamelot to a certain extent. All this brilliance is topped off with Shadowhall, a 25 minute long epic-goes-mental trawl through everything the band has at their disposal. I can’t quite figure out whether to be stunned and affronted by the sheer audacity or just simply impressed with what is an awesome track that happens to go on for near half an hour.

There are a couple of negatives chucked into this mix, by way of two below par tracks. Token ballad I Ain’t No Hero just sounds a bit contrived and manages to push past the line of catchy to simply being annoying. It’s the kind of track that pisses you off simply by its sheer existence but then manages to get stuck in your head for approximately three days. The other negative is the cover of Chris De Burgh’s Don’t Pay the Ferryman. Now I’d first like to stress that this is a very personal thing and for that I make no apologies. I think that the man that unleashed Lady in Red upon an unsuspecting and arguably undeserving public deserves to burn in the seventh level of hell for all eternity while being forced to watch Michael Bay movies on loop. There is no excuse for giving this man publicity of any form and his influence must be stopped. And no, I don’t care if it’s an ‘alright’ song, it’s from the hand of Chris and that instantly makes any artistic significance null and void.

That aside, this is a damn good album. I’m actually quite shocked that these guys have managed to avoid becoming a more major success. When you have bands like The Darkness shamelessly resurrecting the music of yesteryear to ride a wave of hype and nostalgia onto the front covers of magazines, you also have bands like this which successfully and artfully combine what was great about that music with contemporary stylings floundering in relative obscurity. There really is no justice in the world. I blame Chris.

Killing Songs :
All in the Name of Fire, Headfirst Into Disaster, Crystal Stone Warpath and Shadowhall
Al quoted 86 / 100
Other albums by Domain that we have reviewed:
Domain - The Artefact reviewed by Mike and quoted 80 / 100
Domain - One Million Lightyears From Home reviewed by Chris and quoted 74 / 100
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