Dominici - O3 A Trilogy - Part 3
Part 3 will be available April 21st in Europe and April 22nd in the United States.
I'd like to note Dominici has just launched a new website and forum found here. - www.dominici.com
Album: 03 A Trilogy - Part 3
Edited By: Jerry D.
After leaving Dream Theater in 1989 Charlie Dominici fell of the face of the earth as far as music is concerned. And for fifteen years after leaving, Charlie would stay hidden away in the shadows. However, in 2004 Charlie re-appeared at Dream Theater’s famous When Dream and Day Reunite show in Los Angeles, helping his former band mates perform an energetic and historic two song encore. It was that show that brought the passion for music that ruled a great part of Charlie’s earlier days back to the forefront. In 2005 Charlie announced ambitious plans, a musical and lyrical concept that would span three albums. After being dormant for so long such a large scale goal was shocking, however time has proven that Charlie had the drive to do it.
In the summer of 2005 Charlie released the first part of O3 as Charlie Dominici on his own Dominici records. Slated from the start as a trilogy, the first disc was written and performed entirely by Charlie, and featured only vocals, acoustic guitar, and harmonica on two tracks. Many found the first disc a surprise considering his strong recognition as the original singer for progressive metal pioneers.
The first album caught the interest of InsideOut Records, and the band Solid Vision, and Charlie decided to team up with those two parties in order to complete the final two parts of the trilogy. In early 2007 the renamed band Dominici put out part two of the trilogy, and fans of Dream Theater and progressive music in general found themselves in the midst of a much more digestible album. The success of the second album allowed Dominici to play several dates in Europe, including three shows in which they appropriately opened for Dream Theater. Despite this it seemed that completing the ambitious work Charlie had embarked upon would require great personal sacrifice in order to complete. He sold thousands of dollars worth of rare and one of a kind Majesty and Dream Theater items in order to obtain the funds needed to complete the third part of the trilogy. With finances in line, Dominici set forth to write and record the final part of the story that had started as one mans dream, and now we are on the brink of hearing the exciting conclusion. O3 A Trilogy - Part 3 is slated for release in Japan on March 26th, and releases in Europe and the United States will follow in April.
When I threw Part 3 into the stereo system for the first time and began listening to the first track, there were a few things I noticed right away. First, this album is going to be heavier than the previous attempt. Musically, it’s more intense; vocally, Charlie is using techniques not yet seen on the previous albums to give it an edgier feel. Second, this album is going to be more bombastic, which is in part due to the fact that the bass drum is slightly high in the mix. The first song “King of Terror” actually starts with a light, ambient interlude with some chatter in the background. Simple guitar, piano, and then vocals kick in, and after a few measures of thinking we may be going back to the first 03 album, the song explodes and Dominici goes early on where neither of the previous albums had touched. As with most of the album, the aggression is led by a thick, low-toned guitar. In certain instrumental passages, the drums pick up to the point that you think a bit of death metal may be on the horizon. However, this leads back into the simply powerful verses, and finally into the melodic chorus. One thing I love about the drummer on the album, Yan Maillard, is that even during the choruses, he constantly finds interesting ways to change up his patterns to keep the backbone of the sound fresh. After the second chorus comes the first of many good solo sections on the album. The guitar solo is somewhat “shredtastic,” with long bits of backing keyboard unison. The first half of the solo features a backing of heavy riffing, and the second more melodic half has a quickly-moving keyboard orchestration pattern to back it. The entire song, verses especially, show Charlie bringing a new style to the album. His voice is a bit raspy, harsh, and heavier than ever before--and that new edge appears on the entire album. I found the song to be both highly informational, and a great opener. Heavy, it hooks your attention and keeps a hold of it, and is also is a gateway into what the rest of the album will be.
The second track, “March Into Hell” starts with more of Brian Maillard’s heavy guitar riffing, and is soon joined by drums and keyboards for a complex musical introduction to the track. The first verse and chorus manages to showcase pretty much the entire range of Charlie’s voice, dynamic-wise--everything from higher and more melodic, to the thicker and more concrete, to even the bit of light growling. Next, comes the first of many keyboard parts (which I am not overly fond of). Americo Rigoldi is an excellent player on the album when he is not the focus of the sound. However, I do find many of his leads and solos fail to keep my interest. This song features a much more soulful guitar solo than the opening tracks, and is a perfect ending to an otherwise very aggressive song.
“So Help Me God” is a welcomed break from the unexpected heaviness of the first two tracks. Acoustic guitar replaces the tone I had come to expect, and the verse tells a moving story that reminds me of the simplicity and style of the first album. The chorus sees the return of electric guitar, but much “thinner” than on previous tracks, and used more for backing to allow Charlie to lead with dramatic energy. The chorus actually reminds me a bit of Dream Theater’s “The Ministry of Lost Souls.”
“Liquid Lightning” is, for the most part, a return to the sound of the second album. The guitar is lighter and less noticeable than in the opening two cuts, and subtle keyboard work is more easily heard. Heavier riffing gives way to much more single note guitar lead patterns.
“Enemies of God” is the first of two tracks over ten minutes, and it uses the time well. The first thing I notice about the track is that the guitar tone encountered in the first two songs returns, as does the heavier riffing that leads the music. The song features one of the strongest aspects of Dominici’s lyric writing: the fact that he is not afraid to break from simple verses and choruses. Different verse structures are utilized to go with the music and keep the longer songs fresh. This also helps bring out different aspects of Dominici’s voice within a song. The best and probably longest keyboard solo is also found in this song.
After a short light guitar intro, it doesn’t take “Revelation” long to kick into gear with an aggressive riff and the complex kick drum work one would have come to expect at this point. The music goes through several variations of heaviness throughout the song; there is a somewhat shreddy and excellent guitar solo, and we have yet another strong track.
“Hell on Earth” keeps up the style of the bulk of the album and is just another amazing track. Although I have always said I don’t mind an album or band that sticks to a core sound as long as it is good, I know that, by this point in the album, some might complain that the album is a bit monotonous, with “So Help Me God” being the only song to break away from the core heaviness so far.
The ending and the beginning are in “Genesis.” The last track of the trilogy (and the second track on the album to clock in at over ten minutes) starts with an instrumental introduction over four and a half minutes long that would make any prog fan happy. Guitar solos, keyboard solos, intense drumming, fast leads--it’s all there. The first verse is one of the softest on the album, and it leads into perhaps one of the most melodic and anthemic choruses Dominici has ever done. The song ends with over two more minutes of metallic, “progtastic” instrumental goodness before the final line is sung and the trilogy is brought somewhat full circle on itself. I believe the catchiness of the chorus, the amazing instrumental sections, and the length of the song will in time make “Genesis” the most widely liked and recognized song in the entire trilogy.
All said and done, a very strong effort from Charlie and company. I think the best performance on the disc actually came from the drummer, Yan Maillard. He constantly provided the right grooves at the right time. But what is more is that he is always changing his playing throughout the album to keep it fresh and interesting. His fills are powerful, appropriate, and well placed. Finally, he knows very well how to incorporate the kick drum into his playing (not too much constant double bass, many different patterns, and as with the rest of his playing, lots of minor changes and twists). The guitar work is all top notch, which it better be since it is the focus of the music for most of the album. The soloing is varied across different styles, and solid in all of them. Although a crucial part of the sound, the bass is hardly noticeable. My biggest complaint is that I am not fond of the keyboard leads--perhaps because they stand out in such stark contrast against the rest of the particular song’s sound. In any case, the parts I dislike are too few to really take away from the album much at all. On the other hand, I love the majority of the background keyboard work on the album.
Vocally Charlie really varied things up on this album, using the full capabilities of his voice to bring some depth to the album. Overall, I think the quality of the vocal melodies dropped off ever so slightly from the last album. Despite this slight overall drop, I would say that the vocal melodies on Part 3 are more consistent than on Part 2. Lyrically, the album is exactly what I like. The lyrics are not cryptic, they do not try and tell me what love is; they simply create a picture in my mind and tell a story. The story itself takes a twist I don’t think anyone could have seen coming, and I think it might actually put some people off just because of how quickly it takes off after the first two albums maintained a slowly evolving plot. Assisting the lyrics is what I believe is Charlie’s single greatest strength as a singer: enunciation. This may seem like a minor point, but I could not begin to list the number of singers I cannot fully understand by simply listening to them. On the other hand, if you listen along to a Dominici album and jot down the lyrics as you go, your version would probably match the lyric sheet exactly.
The sound of the disc is excellent, and I have to award points to all those involved in recording and engineering. The mix is good for the most part; However, I do have two major complaints. At times the bass drum definitely seems mixed too high, and throughout the album the backing keyboards are too low in the mix. The keyboards are always up front during leads, but then seem to fade into oblivion too often afterwards.
All in all a very solid effort that lives up to the high standards set by the previous two releases.
Nick’s Rating: 94%
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