Dominici - 03 A Trilogy - Part 2

Year of Release: 2007
Label: InsideOut
Catalog Number: SPV 79342 IOMCD 272
Format: CD
Total Time: 54:30:00

I didn't become a Dream Theater fan until hearing Images & Words - I suspect that is true for a lot of folks. When I was explored their back catalog shortly thereafter, I learned there had been someone besides James LaBrie on vocals - Charlie Dominici*.

As the story goes, Dominici left music after Dream Theater's debut When Dream And Day Unite was released in 1989, he and the band parting ways in 1990. By 2005, Dominici felt it was time to return to music, so he recorded and released O3 A Trilogy - Part 1, which was he alone on acoustic guitar and vocals. In a limited run, this CD is only available from Dominici. Now in 2007, the second entry into the trilogy, O3 A Trilogy - Part 2 has been released. This time, with a full band -- Brian Maillard (guitar), Yan Maillard (drums), Americo Rigoldi (keyboards) and Erik Atzeni (bass).

This is a concept album, one that concerns an individual who is a member of sleeper cell in some terrorist organization who finds he quite likes life in the US and comes to see that his assigned task will not only put lives in the US at stake, but will have a global effect, too. As stated on the Dominici website: ?The chemical makeup of O3 (Ozone) can be significantly altered so as to become a rapidly growing chemical reaction changing all Oxygen and Oxygen containing compounds into a deadly poisonous gas that would ultimately destroy all life and living things on the earth.? This concept is rendered both in the songs themselves and connecting bits of dialog or sound bytes. Dominici touches upon a variety of topics within this epic all related to the central concept. In "School Of Pain," for example, the central character is imprisoned and subject to extreme interrogation techniques - usually referred to as torture; it says "So once again the cure / Is worse than the disease?"

Progressive metal is what you expect and that's what you get. But, like the best stuff out there it's dynamic, full of dark and light. Which means it's not just another ho-hum entry in a genre crammed full to overflowing. I mean, I don't think you can turn around or even sneeze without coming into contact with a progressive metal band (many who might think they are but aren't). Well, if you even stray to those waters, which if you're reading this, you likely do. Or thought Dominici was Dominatrix? won't you be surprised when you find there's no whips, chains, or devices that I don't wanna even know about (well, aside from "School Of Pain," but that's in an entirely different context).

Dominici, the man, has a style and tone that is at times reminiscent of Geoff Tate and, ironically, of James LaBrie, although it's mostly Tate. Yes, it's an operatic approach, as with Tate, but it's more than that. What's funny (odd) is that, looking at Dominici, you'd not expect that kind of voice; in fact, the dark and growly performance on "Greed, The Evil Seed" (and on "School Of Pain") is more what I'd expect. This is one of my favorites; buzz-saw sharp guitars and machine-gun rapid drums start us off, the latter carrying us through to the end. It's a chugging juggernaut that really show cases everyone, including guitar solos, what sounds like guitar/keyboard duets? all pummeled home by the incessant throb of bass. Well, except for the solo guitar interlude - quite lovely, though brief. This change comes as the protagonist tries to decide his course of action - fulfill his grim task or resist. In the end, he's arrested and thrown into the slammer, which leads us into "School Of Pain." While I'm sure this is not at all what Dominici was thinking, his performance here is one part Porgy & Bess - at least to me - and one part Pirates of the Caribbean (the Disneyland ride not the movie). Of course, it is very strongly Queensr?che like, when Dominici's voice leaves its deep rumble to soar.

In all we get complex progressive metal with classical and orchestral touches, and, what I think is essential, recognition that full bore for an hour or so gets boring. It's the contrasts that provide the real power. So we get soloing guitars, chugging guitars; breathy keyboards, driving keyboards; driving and vibrant drums and percussion, but also touches of classical guitar here and there; mellow and mellower parts to punch up those bombastic moments. It's especially necessarily in the heaviest track, "The Calling," which does edge close to the "bash-bash" style of metal before we get a sudden break with some subtle keys.

Make no mistake, this does fit in to the general mold of progressive metal. There are no unexpected turns, no departures that stand out as being unique, there are the usual shifts in tempo, speedy guitar parts, etc.. But, it is all played with such energy and a sense of purpose that it seems fresh and vibrant from the opening notes of the monster instrumental "The Monster" that starts off this opus -- a piece that includes some lovely piano flourishes about two-thirds in and serves as an overture to the rest of the album. Then there's the power ballad-like "Captured," where Dominici sometimes sounds like Billy Joel -- an interesting observation given that Portnoy reportedly said back in 1989/1990 "It was like having Billy Joel singing in Queensr?che." Quite interesting since now one would say it's like having Geoff Tate singing in Queensr?che. In fact, one thing that some, you, might find, is that it often sounds too much like Queensr?che; not any one particular track, but overall.

The album ends with "A New Hope" (which ends on a cliffhanger moment, in a way). Here's a song that begins with martial snare and bursts of distorted guitar before the grinding swirl of the main rhythm kicks in, surrounded by swirls of keyboards that seem a touch out of place (and a touch Rush like**), like soft, pink and white fluffy clouds portending a gathering peace storm (perhaps that touch of hope?).

This album is mixed well, as keyboards are present in the mix, not off to the side as sometimes happens. The performances are tight; they've have to be with music like this, when drums speed along, and frets are fingered in flurry. It is, without a doubt an enjoyable and solid release. Yes, Queensr?che is the strong point of reference, but it doesn't suffer as a "clone" because of it, nor does it seem like there's any intention. Actually, that is a surprise given the rest of the band was once a Dream Theater cover band (and were known as Solid Vision; may yet still be outside of this gig). So, yes, there are some Dream Theater-esque moments, but? I didn't feel them as strongly as Queensr?che? In a word or two - solid, recommended.

[I need to credit some sources for info - an interview with Dominici conducted by Andy Read for Dutch Progressive Rock Page (DPRP) and, naturally, the Dominici website.]

*Though he was the second Dream Theater vocalist after Chris Collins; they were Majesty then. ** Had this album playing at work; co-worker came in, asked: "Is that Rush?" More surprising, it was one of my female co-workers.
The Monster (8:28) / Nowhere To Hide (5:06) / Captured (4:16) / Greed, The Evil Seed (7:27) / School Of Pain (7:23) / The Calling (6:40) / The Real Life (3:28) / The Cop (4:49) / A New Hope (6:53)

Charlie Dominici - vocals
Brian Maillard - guitar
Yan Maillard - drums
Americo Rigoldi - keyboards
Riccardo Erik Atzeni - bass

O3 A Trilogy - Part 1 (2005)
O3 A Trilogy - Part 2 (2007)
O3 A Trilogy - Part 3 (2009)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin VA

Added: December 24th 2007
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 1078
Language: english


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