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Dominus: Vol. Beat

I've always been a little skeptical about the depth of fan potential for a genre as limited in scope as groove metal. Due to the rarity of guitar solos and the insistence on playing on the bottom two strings 99% of the time, there's a physical limit to how many different combinations of power chords can be distributed over a fairly repetitive rhythmic phrase before the similarities start to overcome the differences. One thing groove metal does have going for it, however, is that the groove is the essence of all rock and roll. With the exception of those few bands who completely forsake melody for sheer aggression, a song sinks or swims on its catchiness. On this last count Dominus makes a strong case in it's favor. Without being too groundbreaking, they nevertheless manage to transcend the obvious influences such as Korn, C.O.C., and Biohazard. In fact, not only is the ban on guitar solos lifted on Vol. Beat, but such traditional metal touches as dual guitar harmonies (Priest/Maiden) and around-the-kit drumming (Slayer/Metallica) are spread like gravy over every track included.

Despite the pro qualities listed above, there are of course the usual inconsistencies: the singing is too predictable in it's grunting intonations, the lyrics are asinine, and there are redundant production flourishes added in vain attempts to be clever (record scratching, movie samples). In addition, the guitar solos seem to be evenly divided between two guitarists: one who displays excellent chops and taste in note placement, the other who seems too inexperienced with his instrument to warrant the spotlight. This is nothing that can't be improved upon with subsequent touring and future releases, but one way or another these faults must be overcome if Dominus is to achieve a sizable audience.

Another thing that may hinder the proper audience from buying this album is the totally ambiguous cover art. Whereas most heavy metal bands design their album covers to portray some aspect of conflict or aggression, Vol. Beat simply pictures the band posing nonchalantly in front of a plain orange background. Though one member prominently sports a tattoo and another has long hair, nothing else about the photo hints at this band's metal roots. They could just as easily be Matchbox 20 or Sister Hazel if you didn't know any better. (And what does "Vol. Beat" mean anyway?) Clearly a better marketing approach will be required for these guys to make the jump into the big time, not to mention a more streamlined set of guitar chores.

Added: January 1st 2004
Reviewer: SoT Archives
Hits: 3665
Language: english

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