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Devoured by Dominanz. - 80%

Diamhea, January 9th, 2015
Written based on this version: 2014, CD, Industrial Silence Productions (Digipak)

Pining for avant-garde, Norwegian black metal with an ear for non compos mentis encapsulation? Well, Dominanz have apparently got your number. This band has been kicking around for a few years now, but I so rarely hear them brought up in conversation. It is nice to see Tunsberg still hammering out his iniquitous craft alongside a capable supporting cast, and here we are two albums deep with Noxious, released under what I can only assume is the self-managed imprint Industrial Silence Productions. Specifying what exactly Dominanz plays will yield many a furled brow, as there is a marked prevalence for experimental deviations alongside more typical note progression and genre tropes. Think imperial, mid-paced black metal that skirts the line between Immortal's slower moments and more melodic fare like Sweden's Naglfar.

The electronic and industrial swaddling that envelops all of this adds character and lasting power to an approach that might have fizzled out well beforehand. That isn't to say Tunsberg's riffs are lacking by any means, but Noxious isn't going to disorient listeners through pure excess and imprudent variation in both tempo and velocity. Riffs are foul and petulant, clinging to your ears like moss to a gravestone, and are only amplified by a skewered, churning guitar tone. Well produced, and very similar to the style that Naglfar has been continually serving us since Diabolical when all is said and done. "Dream of Fire" and especially "Discipline" are lumbering riff monsters that liquify surrounding doubts courtesy of pure muscle, only to change face and deliver atypical intervals when least expected. Well-arranged and aware of when proceedings start to stagnate a hair, Dominanz makes no qualms about throwing in operatic cleans and occasional symphonic interludes to help clarify the overall vibe.

This comes somewhat close to later Limbonic Art at times concerning the aforementioned "everything but the kitchen sink" approximation, but the inclusion of a corporeal (and relatively restrained) percussionist in Gaustad is a nice deviation from the incessant, exhaustive blasting so typical for the style. That said, I do miss some of that nebulous, sweeping breadth that seems to work so well for similarly-executed projects like later Inquisition and the Norwegian suspects already mentioned. That isn't to say Dominanz lacks a particular identity of their own, and this is a very consistent listen at the end of the day thanks to this alone. Mathisen is also a capable partner in crime to Tunsberg, contributing a good bit of the songwriting here. These two are the true masterminds of the project, and their refusal to compositionally sit still for more than a moment's time makes Noxious pop more than enough for these ears.

No bones about it, Dominanz is commendable stuff, and a great deviation for those tired of black metal hallmarks battered into oblivion. That said, this definitely isn't for everyone, and is probably best ingested when one is in the mood for less exultant fare that retains just enough of a pinch of coffin dust to evoke the evil ones. Just a really cool record, featuring endearingly dissonant note progressions coupled with sundering death metal grooves like on "Servile Lackeys." I do wish the drums were a bit louder in the mix, and there is certainly improvements that can be made concerning the integration of keyboards, but this will satiate more than a few hungers out there. A stronger industrial presence would be more than welcome on future releases, as experimentation is the well from which Dominanz draws most of their strength. Anticipate some surprises alongside what simply works for this genre. Good job guys.

Promo courtesy of The Metal Observer