"The Dominion Gate"


01. Temple of Tears
02. A Taste of Armageddon
03. Messenger of Faith
04. Secret Rules (Beati Paoli)
05. The Dressmaker
06. Endless Agony
07. Paranormal Magnitude Part II
08. Circle of the Dark
09. Haunting Memories
10. Heretic
11. The Dominion Gate
12. The Watchtower
13. K141

RATING: 5/10

Fans of power metal desperate enough for a new fix to avoid being too picky will want to seek out this French band, originally formed in 1979 (!) and reactivated since '99. "The Dominion Gate", their American debut, is chock-full of choir-backed choruses, muscular power metal riffing, tough but melodic lead vocals, and epic tales.

It's also full of sub-par production, which is a real shame — the music deserves better than the somewhat flat, muffled mix we get here. Nothing is brought to the forefront, and it has a deadening effect on what should be some fairly exciting, if standard-issue, songs. A few poor choices, like a programmed drumbeat in the verse of "Secret Rules" and tinny, dated keyboards used throughout, prove more distracting than enhancing.

"The Dressmaker" is a song particularly ruined by bad production decisions (to say nothing of its lame title). Ostensibly a brooding midtempo epic, the type BLACK SABBATH did so well in the Tony Martin era, with snarling, Dio-esque vocals from singer Jo Amore, the whole thing is buried in bad keyboards. Worse still, the guitars have no bite, and the plodding, sinister rhythm is rendered impotent. Amore is rendered nearly inaudible in the bridge, and the whole thing just sounds like a mess.

Even with better sound, "The Dominion Gate" would be, at best, a fairly rote power metal album with occasional hard rock/AOR tendencies (see the kickass opening riff of "Messenger of Faith"). A song like "Endless Agony" employs devices we've all heard before, borrowing a bit of epic power metal, adding a pinch of hard rock, and adding little in the way of a unique personality to the mix. And the overcooked eight-minute title track, featuring female vocals in a fairly monotonous duet with an overemoting Amore chewing the scenery, is just fatiguing.

That's not to say NIGHTMARE are utterly without merit. This is one of those bands that are fairly satisfying when you're searching for a fix of the genre, you want something new, and you've bought everything at the record store already. It'll do for a while, because it scratches that basic itch — I mean, check out "Circle of the Dark" or "The Watchtower". Perfectly serviceable chorus, nice solo, upbeat rhythm, and while not essential, it's a pretty good listen.

That kinda sums up "The Dominion Gate" as a whole. They're a decent band, but unfortunately, the rest of the metal world has passed these guys up, and nothing here will blow away modern fans. But it's an okay second-tier melodic metal album from a band that deserves more recognition. Hopefully next time around, they can bring the songwriting up just a notch, and get a production that flatters, not one that flattens (the rating would arguably go up two points with a Roy Z or Sascha Paeth/Miro behind the boards).


To comment on a BLABBERMOUTH.NET story or review, you must be logged in to an active personal account on Facebook. Once you're logged in, you will be able to comment. User comments or postings do not reflect the viewpoint of BLABBERMOUTH.NET and BLABBERMOUTH.NET does not endorse, or guarantee the accuracy of, any user comment. To report spam or any abusive, obscene, defamatory, racist, homophobic or threatening comments, or anything that may violate any applicable laws, use the "Report to Facebook" and "Mark as spam" links that appear next to the comments themselves. To do so, click the downward arrow on the top-right corner of the Facebook comment (the arrow is invisible until you roll over it) and select the appropriate action. You can also send an e-mail to blabbermouthinbox(@) with pertinent details. BLABBERMOUTH.NET reserves the right to "hide" comments that may be considered offensive, illegal or inappropriate and to "ban" users that violate the site's Terms Of Service. Hidden comments will still appear to the user and to the user's Facebook friends. If a new comment is published from a "banned" user or contains a blacklisted word, this comment will automatically have limited visibility (the "banned" user's comments will only be visible to the user and the user's Facebook friends).