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With its highly appealing, almost Seagrave-esque cover and popular country of origin (Sweden), you'd think this release wouldn't have fallen through the cracks quite so badly. And yet no one seems to have heard it, judging by the lack of reviews for the CD here, there, and everywhere.
Pity, because this is pretty damn quality, crushing technical death metal. Dominion is apparently a two-man band, both members playing multiple instruments on the album. That's usually a recipe for something that comes across as pure studio artifact, but these gents seem to have gone out of their way to pack as much brutality into their songs as any full band out there. Kudos to 'em on a job well done. Besides being loud, fast, and pummelling, this is a very technically accomplished recording, especially in the guitar department. The guitar riffs are memorable - lots of jagged edges, but catchy enough in isolation and repeated sufficiently to become something like a hook. The guitar parts are definitely the skeleton of the album, everything else hanging off of them like so much fat and muscle tissue. With a rough, overdriven production job that emphasises the guitars and vocals and somewhat de-emphasises the drums and (particularly) bass, this is an album that begs to be played loud and wants to ram lots of nasty sharp objects down your throat. It doesn't sound great, but it does sound mean and bruising.
If I were to compliment Dominion on exactly three things, it would be 1. their guitar work, which merges technicality and accessibility very well (almost in an Anata-like manner, but much much heavier); 2. their vocals, which are rough and deep in exactly the right quantities; and 3. their songwriting, which is unique and memorable for the genre. They don't let things run together in a mess of time changes and stereotypical, unmemorable breakdowns. On the other hand, if I were going to knock them on exactly three things, they would be these: 1. the drums could be a little up in the mix; 2. the production could be a little less overdriven and compressed (the sound works in small doses but overall leaves you feeling a bit too, er, suffocated); and 3. ...fuck it, I don't have a 3. Overall I have little to complain about. This is one of Unique Leader's better releases, and well worth checking out if you like brutal death with lots of technical guitar riffs and songs you can remember more than 5 seconds after hearing them. In many ways it reminds me of Insision, a more popular band that I like quite a bit. If you are into that sound, this is a good pickup.