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Dominici

03 A Trilogy Part 3

Review by Gary Hill

Charlie Dominici is probably best known for his work in Dream Theater on their debut CD. While I’ve always like James LaBrie, for me, Dominici is the “real” Dream Theater vocalist and LaBrie the replacement. Don’t get me wrong, LaBrie has an incredible voice and I know that in terms of the catalog Dominici is more like a footnote and LaBrie the lead singer, but still in my head it’s all Mr. Dominici..

This CD is from Dominici’s new band, which bears his last name. The group is nestled pretty well in the middle ground between prog metal and metallic prog. Probably they fit a little better in the metal side of things, but the way I generally do things at Music Street Journal is to include items from people who have been in prog bands under prog, even when they aren’t. Besides, this one is very close.

This CD is the third in a trilogy of discs. I am at a bit of a double disadvantage when it comes to the storyline in that I came in with this one (haven’t heard the first two discs) and my copy doesn’t have a lyric sheet. So, what I can tell you is that it feels like the lyrics reflect around Dominici’s own interpretation / reworking of the Biblical end days. I could be wrong. I also think that he has drawn it as a circle where the ending is the new beginning. Once more, I could be mistaken there. What I’m not mistaken about is that this is a great CD that really does a fine job of incorporating the best of metal and crunchy prog into a cohesive and powerful sound. I’d highly recommend it to Dream Theater fans, but also to anyone who likes crunchy metal or killer prog metal. This is a great disc!

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2008  Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
King of Terror
A dramatic, soundtrack type texture starts things here, rising gradually with an ominous texture. We get clips of news broadcasts and then this shifts to keyboard elements. This is beautiful and yet sad. After a time this gives way to a new balladic approach that serves as the backdrop for the vocals. At around the two and a half minute mark this fires off in a metal fury sort of approach. When keyboards come in over the top it’s a nice touch. The vocals continue over this harder edged motif. The segment later that combines powerful prog with epic metal sounds is killer. They work through a number of variations and alterations from there. This is quite a powerful and dynamic piece of music and a great way to end the disc. I like the prog instrumental segment quite a bit, but the whole track is great. It shifts out to more pure metal later in the piece.
March Into Hell
This one comes in as pure metal, heavy and with a thick groove based riff. They fire off into a prog section from there. As this resolves out into the song proper it’s definitely more in a metallic prog fashion than prog metal. This is meaty and would certainly turn prog purists away, but it’s also great! The guitar solo is a tasty one with a definite fusion element to it. This is another cut that at times moves into nearly pure metal. They move it out into a killer melodic jam later in the track that pulls it more fully into the prog rock realm – albeit with some metal still in the mix.
So Help Me God
An acoustic guitar based balladic approach is the order of the day for the first segment. They power it up a little after a verse, through the addition of layers of sound. It fires out into a harder rocking version of itself near the minute and a half mark. After it settles back down we are treated to a cool fusion-like instrumental section. Working through a few variations they bring it back into the song proper. While this one gets quite crunchy at times, I’d definitely land it in the realm of metallic prog.
Liquid Lightning
This one enters in a full metal approach. After taking us on a couple instrumental journeys it settles more into a progressive rock sound, at first crunchy. It drops back even more (to almost fusion-like sounds) for the verse and then powers back out for the chorus. We get a decidedly metal jam on this that has some meaty guitar riffing. Still, keyboards laced over this lends just a trace of progressive rock to the mix, even when it’s pounding out in metallic fury. They drop it back to a great bass driven jam later that’s quite in the mode of fusion. Then it crunches back out from there as the vocals return. The number continues by revisiting the various musical themes. At one point it’s a total 1980’s metal sound and the next the group are careening through a series of lightning progressive rock changes. The prog rock is integral to the song, just as much as the metal is. That’s the way metallic prog should be done. The extended instrumental break is a killer and works through so many varying genres and themes that it’s amazing. This is definitely one of the highlights of the disc.

Enemies of God
In some ways this cut stays closer to a metal approach than some of the other material. The thing is, they put in these wild angular jams that are pure prog in the same way that modern King Crimson is, heavy and crunchy, but proggy as heck. At around the four minute mark the cut crescendos and drops back to a cool melodic tapestry that’s mellow and very tasty. The vocals come back in amidst this and as the track grows upward it feels a bit like epic metal meets progressive rock. Before the six minute mark it starts to come back towards metal, tentatively at first. Rather than fully pound out, they take this on a new instrumental exploration with a smoking guitar solo before they finally return to the crunchy song proper. We get another instrumental journey later, with a spoken word rant over it (but also down in the mix). At over ten minutes in length this one is an epic and the second longest cut on show here. It’s also one heck of a ride.
Revelation
Coming in with a short guitar intro, this kicks into some of the most metallic thrashy music we’ve heard so far. They bring it more into progressive rock territory as they create musical intrigue over the top of this. It drops back for the verse and they work it back towards metallic territory for the pre-chorus and chorus. In some ways I’d think of this one as Queensryche turned towards Dream Theater. There is a cool, oddly timed jam later in the track and when they come out of that it feels a bit like a more metallic old school Rush. After a false ending we get some sound effects followed by a “what the…?” Then dramatic sound effects take this to its close.
Hell On Earth
In some ways this is more pure metal than some of the other stuff here. The thing is, they still manage to weave enough left-field twists and turns into the mix to keep the prog alive. This is a powerhouse, but in some ways it doesn’t work as well for me as some of the other material on the CD.
Genesis
At nearly eleven minutes the closer is the longest track on show here. The first minute plus is devoted to a hard edged, frantic, metallic prog jam that screams as it dances and thrashes. They drop it back for a short guitar solo segment and then power back up for a keyboard solo. From there it launches into a series of changes and variations. There is a cool bass solo in this that gives way to a Rush-like section. We get a frantic prog jam that comes out of that. They drop it back mid-track for the first vocals, delivered in a dramatic (although rather balladic) fashion. It powers up from there to more vintage Queensryche like sounds. They move things through various motifs as they continue towards the conclusion. It eventually works out into a scorching crescendo. The sounds of nature replace the music and a line of vocals come in acapella low in the mix to end the disc.
 
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