Domain - The Artefact

Year of Release: 2002
Label: Nightmare Records
Catalog Number: NMR-99752
Format: CD
Total Time: 58:56:00

Domain are a quintet from Germany mainly playing AOR with occassional progressive metal stylings. All with a vocalist, Carsten "Lizard" Schulz, that sounds quite a bit like Sammy Hagar (especially on "Almost Eden" - think "Your Love Is Driving Me Crazy"). While you might expect that album's title, The Artefact might have some significance to the lyrics inside, it doesn't really, other than the term being repeated in the first track's title. No, one might actually think the band are being a little cheeky here, that their album and style of music is an artefact. Well, AOR has become a dinosaur style of rock, hasn't it? I mean, are Journey, Asia, Styx, riding the top of the charts these days? Aren't they, in fact, artefacts of a time gone by? The fact that this is a new album, new music, and music that takes AOR into new directions... maybe so new that AOR isn't exactly the right term anymore -- it did mean Album Oriented Rock long ago, and came to define a style of rock that was somewhere between heavy metal and pop-rock. Domain take things closer to progressive metal in many of the tracks.

Anyway, at various times I thought of Glenn Hughes, Bon Jovi, Iron Maiden, Whitesnake, and Ayreon. Except for the distorted guitars, the intro piece "Discover The Artefact" sounds a lot like something Arjen Lucassen would compose. This leads into the Symphony X/Ayreon-esque "Charade." I kept hearing Lucassen's Star One's "Set Your Controls." In fact, I'd like to hear more from the band along these lines stylistically. On the one hand we get some typical AOR style fare: the power ballad "Strangers From The Heart" has an opening guitar riff that recalls Guns 'N' Roses' "Sweet Child O' Mine" and vocals that sound a bit like a Bryan Adams/Sammy Hagar hybrid ("Straight From The Heart" anyone?). The delayed background vocal is what make me think of Bon Jovi (thinking of "Wanted: Dead Or Alive"). The 80s styled, definitely AOR, "Don't Count On Love" and the pop-metalish "Heart On The Line" are a bit too light-weight in comparison to the heavier material that surrounds it, but a harmless contrast. On the other hand, the band throw in a few curves.

What you don't expect is the Celtic-styled rocker "Mystery Stone," which starts with a rather neat drum intro from Edgar Schmidt. While it's far from the "authentic" feel of Tempest (for example), the rhythm will make you think of Irish dancers (and thus of a beefier Riverdance). The band also cover The Beatles' "Day Tripper" ... I've mixed opinions on the Domain rendition... but maybe it's because I never thought I'd hear the song with a metal arrangement. Guitarist Axel "Ironfinger" Ritt is faithful to the famous riff, fuzzing it up a little bit more perhaps.

"Blackhole Visions" is a tour-de-force, high-octane rocker (again "Set Your Controls" comes to mind) that is like a roller coaster ride (though no patch on the explosive "Experience XTC"). While "Blackhole Visions" is mainly a grinding rocker, there is a brief interlude where keyboardist Erdmann Lange gets to play a lovely, yet subdued, tinkling part ... later we get some keyboard/guitar interplay/dueting that will have Symphony X coming to mind again. And it's Symphony X that's recalled with the darker, epic "Seasons (The Circles Around The Moon)." Lange gets more spotlight here, too, playing a quite warm piano. While you might think you're in for a cover of "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" with opening "wa-chuba" (or so it sounds) vocalizations of "Spirit Of The Sun," sitar quickly puts things aright, giving us a Middle-Eastern textured piece (and a rhythm that recalls a phrase in the opener) - both of which recall Maiden's "Run To The Hills." "Experience XTC" is truly a tour-de-force piece, featuring, as Ritt notes, "256 bpm / 8 triplets = 3072 notes per minute on lead guitar!" Which is only more impressive when that ultra-fleet fingered playing results in a song you actually would want to listen to more than once.

"Downtown Babylon" is a darker track, the instrumentation a bit throater. Ritt notes in the liner notes that he downtuned his guitar to "dropped D on the lower E-string," which he admits is nothing extraordinary, but I say it does give this piece a bit of dark menace.

I grew up on AOR, so I already have an affinity for this style of music. In some ways, I've moved beyond the traditional AOR style, and it seems so have Domain. That is, sure the two "pure" AOR tracks are here, but they truly are the novelty - the harder hitting, AOR-ish material is what rules the day. And this results in a pretty darn good album, I must say.

Also released by Humbucker Music

Discover The Artefact (0:53) / Charade (4:39) / Mystery Stone (4:12) / Day Tripper (4:28) / Strangers From The Heart (4:45) / Blackhole Visions (5:04) / Seasons (The Circles Around The Moon) (5:35) / Don't Count On Love (4:40) / Spirit Of The Sun (5:37) / Almost Eden (5:18) / Downtown Babylon (4:44) / Heart On The Line (4:07) / Experience XTC (4:24)

Carsten "Lizard" Schulz - vocals
Axel "Ironfinger" Ritt - 6 & 12-string acoustic guitars, 6 & 12-string electric guitars, sitar, backing and harmony vocals
Erdmann Lange - acoustic and electric piano, Hammond organ, synthesizers
Dirk "Dingens" Beckers - bass
Edgar Schmidt - drums<

Kingdom - Lost In The City (1987)
Our Kingdom (1988)
Before The Storm (1989)
Crack In The Wall (1991)
Collection 1986-1992 (1992)
One Million Lightyears From Home (2001)
New Horizons (2001)
The Artefact (2002)
The Sixth Dimension (2003)
Last Days Of Utopia (2005)
The Essence Of Glory (2005)
Stardawn (2006)
The Chronicles Of Love, Hate And Sorrow (2009)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin DE

Added: October 19th 2003
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 861
Language: english


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