Domine - Emperor Of The Black Runes
Domine from Italy are back with their 4th fulllength album, and for you who have followed them through their career it is going to be a highly familiar experiance. They continue pretty much where the last album left us, playing epic metal a'la Rhapsody and their likes, but with a slightly more heavier and more metal approach. The most overwhelming pompousness has ben forced to stand a side for a bit more heaviness and straight forward riffing.
The concept is the same on this album as the others. It starts with uptempo songs with the classic Domine Trademark: An epic intro followed by a very, very long guitarriff. The kind where the mainriff is built up in several sections and when you think it's over and the verse is about to begin, you realize that you have only reached halfway and there it goes on for another half minute. After that the mood and the tempo is built up and usually topped with an epic refrain and very competent solos from time to time. What differs this album most from the earlier ones is not much, but if something is to be mentioned it is the fact that it's just that little bit heavier this time with a bit sharper and more intense guitars.
The best moments on the album are this time actually appearing when they step aside from the epic metal they normally play. In True Believer as well as Altar Of The King they are showing off a more catchy and melodic approach, and that works very,very well. True Believer is a killer uptempo song with a bit of 80's german metal over it. Great riffing, melodies and actually with a touch of old Helloween baked into the refrain. The 11 minute epos The Aquilonia Suite (Part one) works very well with great melodies, intense tempo and once again differs a bit from their usual creations. Altar Of The King is also a great tune and ironically it is a cover of a Riot song, and is the best song on the album, just to get you an idea.
The lineup is the same as before, which means that the vocals leaves me with a feeeling that there are more to ask for. The italian/english voice of Morby is a bit unpolished and sometimes sounds like its going over the hills, but I must admit he manages to keep on the right side the album through. It is, however, to me something that always lies there as a thing that is bothering me and does not make me enjoy the musical experiance to the fullest.
The amount of slower songs, and the fact that none of the songs this time are not really standing out, are big factors to why the chalises are being held back. Domine deliver their traditional metal like they are supposed to but we have heard it all before, and slightly better on the other albums I have to say. The 2 albums before this one I really like, but this falls under the category good, but not mindblowing.
I dont quite agree with Tommy in this case. This new album from the Italian masters of epic and majestic power metal perhaps doesnt quite reach the same level as their previous monster Stormbriner Ruler but doesnt end up far behind either. Emperor of the Black Runes might overall be a little laid back in pompousness but thats all regained tenfold with the formidable Aquilonia Suite. Just listen to the amazing build-up towards the more up-tempo part of the song around some 2,5 minutes. This must absolutely be considered to be THE highlight composition of their career so far and this song alone is worth every single dime you spend. I can agree that vocalist Morby doesnt have his best moments on the job though and definitely not as great as on their previous two albums but I wont go as far as stating that its a bothering factor, just a little below his usual standards. Despite that I think that Domine once again have delivered a rigidly solid album and a full worthy representative in the CD-catalogue that compiles plenty of other stand out material too. Battle Gods (Of the Universe), Arioch the Chaos Star (now theres a chorus!), Prince in a Scarlet Robe and True Believer will really light up your daily metal life to a degree. So if you already have a fondness for this band, Emperor of the Black Runes will not alter that fact even an ounce and the slightly more focus on a more direct metal approach mixed with the epic touches and pompousness were used to make me already yearn for what Domine will deliver next time. Bring em on! //Mat (9 of 10)