St. Paul, Minnesot'as True Metal Record Store (RIP as of Dec. 24, 2015)
DOMAINS (SPA) – Sinister Ceremonies [DOMAINS bandcamp]
The Sinister Flame
Release date: January 5, 2014
[Calling the 90-day rule for “new releases” on this one, even if everybody’s attention span will have them bored on average by the end of this sentence.]
In three words: Cryptic DM throwback.
What kills: Spain’s DOMAINS have supposedly been active since 2005 and can only count Sinister Ceremonies and a 2009 demo to their name. I’m not clear whether this is a sign of stasis or sloth, but the album at least makes it clear their limited catalog is not for lack of good ideas.
Remarkably they manage to avoid the dual pitfalls of throwback DM circa the 2010s: worshiping INCANTATION or ENTOMBED to any inordinate degree. Everything’s a bit of a stew, in the way one would describe something hearty and satisfying that has been prepped long enough to diminish competing flavors.
To be sure, there’s a bit of old INCANTATION in the long-form, blackened, tremolo-style riffing buried in the warm sturm und drang of the analog production. Luckily these guys know how to vary their riffs, mix tempos and recycle themes, which allows them to rise above the chromatic mire that be so quickly frustrating under the influence of duller minds. A lot of classic MORBID ANGEL shines through in the resolutions, some dirty Finnish DM in the uncanny harmonies, and even a NILE-like presence is obvious in both the modality and cadence of the solos (yes, solos!). Top it off with a van Drunen-like snarl and it all becomes quite appetizing.
What rots: Not a lot. It’s easy to get the sense, because it’s new, there should be something obviously wrong with this to pick on. With several patient listens, the best I can come up with is there are parts that drag despite the band’s best efforts. A lot of this style of DM has simply been done before, though here it comes with a nice helping of reverent conviction. The atmosphere, pulsing with evil fervor, helps one churn through many of the less digestible passages, and something excellent is never long to follow to offer relief.
As a bit of an aside, since I try to keep purely technical complaints to a minimum, I’m not clear on the talent of the drummer. The drums are low in the mix and not distracting and perhaps are served best that way.
What matters: Sinister Ceremonies is tasty stuff for anybody whose brains are mired in obscure 90s death metal. It’s not 100 percent there and may take a few listens to get the juices flowing, but obvious flaws are few and the rewards have great potential to rapacious fans of the style.
Tell me more: Searching for “Domains Spain” is a serious bitch unless you plan to camp out at .es sites for mere cents on the euro. Go grab www.sinister-ceremoni.es right now!
Disclaimer: Death metal, like drinking, is more economical on an empty stomach.
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