Release date: August 19, 2011 (EU)
The album title, As I Shine is a literal contradiction to the aural morass that oozes from your speakers when you crank up the new CD from Norway’s Dominanz. What the listener is immediately struck by is the oppressive, dark, scaly atmosphere the trio creates.
Dominanz seeds were planted in the soil of the Roy Nordaas (ex-Taake, Ofryskje) project, Cult of Deception, which he started in 2006. Two years into composing for his auditory dementia, the vocalist/bassist saw the seeds germinate when he was joined by guitarist Jørn Tunsberg (Hades Almighty, ex-Immortal, ex-Old Funeral), and drummer Frode Gaustad (ex-Thy Grief).
The band’s sound is something of a blackened industrial metal. Or, rave metal for the insane. Whichever you prefer. They label themselves as atmospheric metal, which is true if the atmosphere you long for is conducive to torture, torment and bloodshed. This is mood music for the depraved.
The band offer that their lyrics deal “with everything from depictions of erotic oppression, slavery and ways to dominate fellow man. The main theme is on the bleak and destructive and living on the edge between life and death.” This is a fair assessment of what the band has accomplished both lyrically and sonically. Their sound combines elements of Norwegian black metal, and the cold brutality of industrial.
As I Shine was recorded and mixed at Conclave Studio by Bjørnar E. Nilsen and Roy N. Mathisen and mastered at Earshot Studio by Herbrand Larsen.
My initial reaction listening to As I Shine, is this album could be the soundtrack to the entire “Saw” film series. The feel is stark, chilling, and cruel. Which you can feel from the opening strains of “Infinite”, the album’s first track, a pummelling industrial beast, made eerie by haunting female background vocals from Renathe Hapoldoy.
“Agony and Domination” and the title track come across as two halves of a whole. Combined they make up 11 minutes of the album, and both have a very similar dramatic, even horrifying cinematic feel.
Hapoldoy returns on the minute long “Abusos”, to add a discordant feminine choral tone, like the voices of the damned beckoning to us. This leads into the album’s second half, and the track, “The Philanthropic”, which gives us more of that back metal vibe before an oddly melodic industrial chorus kicks in.
At this point I’m trapped between a fondness for the record and a feel that too many tracks are bleeding into one another without significant variance. Jørn is making frequent use of hooky squealing emphasis notes on his guitar, which then dilutes the overall effect. Indeed, less is more.
Appropriately enough, the album’s final track, “The End Of All There Is” is an apt summary of As I Shine. With its companion video (shown below), the band paint a vividly disturbing picture of insanity set loose to roam untended. The imagery the band creates perfectly matches the tone and content of the album.
2. Agony and Domination
3. As I Shine
4. Eternal Sin
6. The Philanthropic
7. Last Day of Your Life
8. Man on Top
9. From Skin to Heart
10. The End of All There Is
In all, As I Shine, feels like the brain activity of a serial killer turned to sonic waves. Each track pulsating with an ambience of caliginous madness. The grime and stench of gloom so thick you want to take a shower at the album’s end, and scrub until your skin is raw.
I’m torn between the moments of genius I hear, and the redundacies that weaken the overall effort. The band have captured a sound that is as fetid as it is intriguing. For that reason alone it demands listening, but the question becomes how much can you handle? Will you make the right choice?