Released: 1996, Noise Records
Editors Note: Metal-Rules.com was founded in 1995 as a forward thinking site. Our goal is, and always has been, to support Real Metal. The decision was made that very rarely do we ever go back and review an album from before 1995. Does the world really need another CD review of Master Of Puppets, Powerslave or Screaming For Vengeance? We don’t think so. We have always supported what is happening now.
Starting in January, 2014, as we head towards the 20th Anniversary of Metal-Rules.com, we are looking back and filling in a few gaps in the review database. We want to complete the post-1995 review catalogue of some of the bands that we have supported since 1995, when very few, if any websites were supporting real Metal. It’s fun to go back and revisit some of these albums that we did not review when they were first released. Enjoy!
Pretty near identical to it’s predecessor (Kamelot’s 1995 debut album ETERNITY) DOMINION released just a year later shows a fine adherence to the style they founded with their debut. Do people still remember when a band could release an album every year? There is some debate as to when the album came out, the CD says 1996 and other on-line sources say 1997.
Except for the songs of course, DOMINION and ETERNITY are nearly identical, in many respects. DOMINION has the exact same line-up, it was recorded again by Jim Morris at Morrisound Studios in their home state of Florida, it has another gorgeous purple album cover, it has 11 songs, running just under an hour and it is on the same record label, Noise Records. Even the drummer, Richard Warner, wrote all the lyrics again. The debut was fantastic so the old adage applies, ‘If it is not broken, don’t fix it’. Back to the cover, it is really attractive, one of my favourite album covers, reestablishing the epic nature of the band and logo. Only House Of Lords and perhaps later Whitesnake, can match the look and feel of the regal and royal image of the band album covers with heraldry being a key theme.
For the really dedicated listener there are some subtle changes since the debut. The guitar tone perhaps is a little bit more bite and the orchestral sounds are slightly more prominent. Vanderbilt even has a tiny bit more grit in his voice but by and large the album is still perfectly executed Progressive Power Metal. The songs range in the 4-6 minute range, suggesting perhaps that they are not super-adventurous and progressive compared to Dream Theater, but certainly the compositions are more involved than simple verse-chorus song-craft. The songs drive along, not too fast, not too weak, just right in the pocket in that zone that few bands are comfortable in. The lush keyboard sounds compliment the orchestration and guitars very nicely.
Once again, Vanderbilt channels his inner Tate and it was a shame this was his last appearance singing for the band, or any band in fact, as he seems to have dropped out of the recording and performing side of the music business completely. I know many people throw around the word ‘under-rated’ a lot (often to describe musicians they like but no one else really likes, in an effort to make themselves feel better) but in this case Vanderbilt was a real talent with enormous potential for a long career as one of the leading vocalists on Metal for this style. I think that was the crux, ‘for this style’, Progressive Power Metal, being hugely unpopular in North America at the time and so his career was just a brief dazzling flare and then snuffed out within a few short years.
Martin Popoff in one of his review books called the first several Kamelot albums ‘faultless’, and I’d have to agree. There is no single discernible problem with DOMINION but it would be the addition of a new vocalist for their next album, that would take the band to the next level. Until that time came, Kamelot existed proud and virtually alone on a continent that largely rejected real Metal for the better part of a decade.