DOMAIN - Stardawn

Domain - Stardawn

9 songs
69:30 minutes
***** ****


It's hard to believe, but Stardawn is already Domain's 20th anniversary album. And yet I remember that they released their first album in 1987, the year where I started to devote my life to heavy metal, and back then, still called Kingdom, I thought that they were some of the worst poser bands of all time. It even seemed that they were just an artefact of the Eighties, because there was nearly no sign of life of them in the Nineties, except for a farewell album in the early part of the grunge decade. With the new millennium back for good with traditional metal, and Domain having matured themselves, they came back better than ever before. Already last year, they surprised me with the rather good Last Days Of Utopia, but Stardawn topped even my keenest expectations.

Already the opener All In The Name Of Fire shows Domain from such a heavy side as I have rarely if ever heard them before. This is melodic power metal at its best, with a strong and fast pace and good vocal lines. The following Temple Of The Earth is a groovy hard rock song, not unlike some Deep Purple stuff and a chorus that is so cheesy and cute at the same time that I have to add it to my "guilty pleasures" list. And as we are already so deep in the Eighties, we are treated with the Chris de Burgh cover version Don't Pay The Ferryman, one of the evilest pomp rock songs of the Eighties that you should only listen to when you have a fat belly and a greasy moustache, or if you're a desperate housewife. But what the heck, this song is part of my youth, and I am not ashamed of it. I mean, a man whose daughter became Miss Universe, can't be really bad, or can he? No melodic metal album without a ballad, Domain must have thought, and I Ain't No Hero is arena schmaltz of the most perfidious kind. But now that we are already knee-deep inside this unashamedly retro-phase, why not enjoy it while it lasts? Headfirst Into Desaster (sic!) starts like a Van Halen or Satriani song, then transforms into a cool hardrocker, but its five-minute-plus length leaves enough room for bar saloon piano parts and Queen moments. The nearly ten minute long title track is cool but doesn't somehow not meet my expectations. Crystal Stone Warpath (Warpath Pt. II) is a faster song again, with lots of dramatic moments. Help Me Through The Storm is again a hard rock song, before the album ends with Shadowhall, a 25 minute journey that must be the best that Domain have ever done. The orchestral parts sound real enough, so I guess they must have used a real (meaning: costly) one, and the idea of combining heavy metal with classical music is certainly not new, but rarely done as well as here. Reaching back to the glory days of earthy hard rock, this sounds like the great moments of 70s bands like Uriah Heep or Procol Harum who did a lot of similar experiments. This song alone is ten points worth, which leaves Domain at an average incredible 9, something I would never have guessed when I first held the CD in my hand.

And if you want to be in really for a treat, you should get the limited edition that comes with a bonus best-of CD (17 tracks including two rare cover versions) and a bonus DVD with lots of live music.

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