We have been trying to get a hold of this release for some time as the buzz about Domain has inundated the European press. Originally released on The Point Music in the UK it was nice to see this opus reach the US through Nightmare Records (www.nightmare-records.com). An excellent melodic power rock/metal release, “The Artefact” excels with dynamic vocals, guitars and power riffs. Rocking hard with metal strong melodies, harmonies and fantastic musicianship this promises to be one of the best for this thrilling German band. “The Artefect” is the third installment to the Domain catalog since returning as a working band in 2000 and with its very fast rhythms, double base runs and incredible refrains easily stands on top of the heap.
Several elements make “The Artefact” not only quintessential but heads and shoulders above the rest. Inviting the listener in from the start is a haunting almost demonic voice beckoning you to, “discover the Artefact.” Don’t be confused by the synthesized keyboard there will be plenty of meat and potatoes as the disc gets rockin’. ‘Charade’ slays all doubts. Ex-Forever frontman Carsten Schulz's voice is astonishing, not only does he have a superlative timbre which, combined with his accent, sounds somewhat similar to Klaus Maine of Scorpion but also much in delivery and range as Rainbow-era Ronnie James Dio.
‘Mystery Stone’ puts it all together in a tight Celtic package and swings in a perfect home run. Lyrics, melody and delivery create a spine-chilling, razor-sharp metallic classic. But, just when you’re ears are recovering the Judas Priest-like interpretation of the Beatles ‘Daytripper’ rifles through a galloping based line with the thunder of a Cherokee stampede.
Slowing down just long enough to catch its breath the disc beds down ‘Strangers From The Heart’. A lovely melodic and emotional ballad laced with vocal dexterity and pitch-perfect harmonies. You can almost smell the sex. Then we get the full on talents of guitarist Axel Ritt (also the albums producer) in the fiery ‘Blackhole Visions’ and ‘Season (The Circles Around The Moon)’. ‘Don’t Count On Love’ believe it or not, has a mid-eighties element to it. Oddly enough, it isn’t a band thing. It’s catchy as hell, cocky with fussing rhythm and swagger and backed with an army of guitars.
‘Spirit of the Sun’, takes a musical journey to the Middle East, at least in the choice of the sitar through out the song. Alex states in the CD’s booklet, “No samples, no tricks, it’s a real sitar in the intro of the song. OK, it’s an electric sitar, but to play these thin strings was a great challenge for me.” A unique composition, the song benefits in the horn-locking defiance of the guitar against a jackhammer rhythm section.
Taking full use of Erdmann Lange’s keyboard dexterity, ‘Almost Eden’ swirls around a thumping melody. It’s not enough to emphasis the effort drummer Edgar Schmidt and bassist Dirk Beckers put into not only this song but each song on the album. Their subtly to play off each other on even the more melodic tunes from the funk of ‘Downtown Babylon’ to the straight AOR-fused ‘Heart On The Line’ or even the crunch of ‘Experiment XTC’ is an excellent example of their true prowess.
The whole record benefits from a tightened up Mutt Lange-sounding production with thick layered arrangements. Obviously Axel has done his homework. The packaging is also top-notch, well thought out and well executed. Overall an amazing job.
Domain plan to support the HUGHES/TURNER PROJECT along with KELLY SIMONZ BLIND FAITH in their forthcoming European tour.
Check out Domain's website: www.domainband.de