And endure gruelling pain
And my heart will still beat
And I never give up
Heaven is a heartbeat away
For your dreams of tomorrow
Could very well end today."
One Word Review: Untamed
Dominion is the second Kamelot album and the last with their original singer Mark Vanderbilt and co-founding drummer Richard Warner. The Kamelot of yore was a rawer and less polished musical entity than they are today. I discovered Kamelot with this album and it has remained my favorite alongside "Karma" and "The Black Halo".
There is a medieval atmosphere running through the album, first brought to life with the stirring symphonic intro and though the sound is a bit thin, it doesn't matter since it gives the album an identity of its own. There is a special feel to Dominion. A sort of raw unpolished gleam, which catches the ear and gives the songs a sharp edge. On later albums the band has matured greatly, but here they deliver an immediacy and wildness, which makes up for it.
Heaven showcases the superb mix of heavy, progressive and power metal Kamelot create. The song is at once melodic, powerful, catchy and changes pace several times through the song. The chorus is particularly effective, with the guitar melody underlining Mark's characteristic high pitched vocals in a fantastic way. In the verse sections, there is a furios urgency to the guitar.
I've always loved Mark Vanderbilt's voice, one reason is his resemblance of Crimson Glory's Midnight. He tries some wild things and more often than not, he succeeds. Sometimes he struggles to bend his voice around the lyrics, which were written by drummer Richard Warner and sometimes he has a hard time to keep up with the words, but the important word here is feeling and that is something Mark Vanderbilt overflows with. The way he sings makes it easy to get sucked into the atmosphere of each song and it adds impact to the lyrics. The one word description of Mark Vanderbilt's voice would be primal.
Songwriter Thomas Youngblood's vibrant and inventive guitar playing is the second shining star of the album. Some of the riffs he comes up with are genius. The ones he conjures for We are not separate and Song of Roland in particular are awesome as they add an incredible drive to the songs as well as a sparkling wildness.
Though We are not separate has hit potential, I have not grown tired of it after 18 years and that must be a good sign. The song is ultra melodic and based on an infectious guitar riff. Mark Vanderbilt keeps up with the song's strong drive very well. The entry to the second verse feels so natural and I just love the way the guitar gently rises to the occasion.
With Song of Roland Kamelot musically interprets the honorable tale of a French knight who valiantly falls in battle. They do it in such a lovingly over the-top-way that it became my favorite song of the album right away. The magical guitar riff rises and falls like the tide of a battlefield, while Mark Vanderbilt sings as if he's lost in his own world, where there is no holding back. Proof of that comes with the climax where he goes completely over the top in a way that wouldn't work in most other bands, but as his voice breaks there is just so much intensity being presented that I can't hear it without feeling chills creeping up my back. It is a passionate magic moment that lingers in the air and is often followed by a sort of sheepish feel that I got caught up in it again after the umpteenth listen. But it's just that good.
Among other highlights, Birth of a Hero is the closest the album comes to a ballad. The song builds momentum very well and manages to capture a special sad atmosphere. One day I'll win and Rise again both have strong drives and distinct atmospheres, which take me back to the middle ages. Rise again has the memorable "I scream to the sky full of anger, my body increasingly weaker" line as well as a cool little link to Heaven while One day I'll win has a tortured vocal performance at its centre. The rest of the album is strong as well, with the instrumental creation Creation being a nice little detour and Troubled Mind putting a superb ending to the album. The lyrics are the final bricks in bringing Kamelot's medieval atmosphere to full bloom (Camelot! Camelot! It's only a model... Shh!).
Dominion may be less elegant than their later works with Roy Kahn and Tommy Karevik, but is in every way a fantastic Kamelot release. The unbridled sense of pride that radiates from the album is still as effective as it was 18 years ago. One for the long cold winter nights when the lights are down.
Written By Steen
Online: Monday, February 3, 2014
We Are Not Seperate