Domination Campaign – Onward to Glory Review

From the ashes of Australia’s Psycroptic rises a new band to take its place in the sun: Domination Campaign. Except that’s not a great metaphor for the situation, because Psycroptic is fine and still doing its usual musician thing, but I wanted to write a dramatic intro to pique your interest. You see, Domination Campaign and their debut full-length, Onward to Glory was originally a solo project by Jason Peppiatt, who is the lead vocalist in Psycroptic. Here, he handles guitars, including bass, vocals, songwriting, and, apparently, the cover art (and a fine job he did there, I mean – look at it). Also joining in the fun is Joe Haley, also of Psycroptic, who handles the drumming, as well as production, mixing, and mastering of the album. Together, the duo have sought to create an album of death metal inspired more by old-school tropes than the technical aspirations of their main project. Onward to Glory is how that story begins.

There is no preamble, no fancy intro, no mood-setter on Onward to Glory; the album hits the ground sprinting and doesn’t let up for quite some time. With only a half-hour runtime, Domination Campaign waste no time, opening with “Death Before Dishonour,” a mid-tempo assault built on a meaty tremolo riff that works to establish the album’s template quickly and effectively. Songs are short, straightforward, and built from thick riffs and creative guitar work. Embellishments are few, and melody is a co-pilot-in-training, rather than a driving force. Domination Campaign are here to, well, dominate, with big, meaty riffs and Peppiatt’s trademark roars marking the general sound for the album. In an uncommon occurrence, it’s the promo sheet that puts it best: Peppiatt takes a “bone-basic” approach to crafting death metal with old-school inspiration and vibes, writing about historic battles and brutal g(l)oriness. It’s reasonably simple, it’s straightforward, and, for the most part, it achieves what it sets out to do.

All of this is to say that if you’ve come here hoping for Psycroptic Mk. II, you are likely to leave disappointed. Domination Campaign prefers simplicity and brutality over complexity and technicality. “Against All Odds” and “Terror from Above” are solid examples of the duo’s heavy, dramatic leanings, with the latter using samples to accent its brief atmosphere. “As Daylight Breaks” builds on a catchy, pummeling series of riffs, and allows Domination Campaign to build their brutal vision of battles and violence in days gone by. This is not a record that seeks to innovate, but rather to take a core sound and express it well. Appropriately, there are no bad songs on Onward to Glory; each track is short and straightforward, largely eschewing sweeping solos, atmospheric interludes, and really, accents of any kind; the riffs are meaty, the drumming is busy, and Domination Campaign are here to dominate. Simple.

In fact, my main gripe with Onward to Glory is actually that it’s a little too simple, and I think it would have benefitted from two main changes: first, that the songs themselves have a little more variety, and second that the album production better accent its inherent heaviness. “Sniper’s Gaze” is promising enough, and is certainly enjoyable in the moment, but never really goes anywhere. Here, the riffs are sharp and chug away with aplomb, but the slightly muddy production and non-impactful drumming means that they’re just sort of there. While there is certainly something to be said for skilled guitar work and an impressive growl, Peppiatt feels muted throughout Onward to Glory, not as supported by the Domination Campaign sound as perhaps he should be. I can’t deny the talent or songwriting, but the feel of the album is ever so slightly off. As death metal goes, it isn’t gripping; it lacks immediacy.

Maybe I’m being a bit harsh and overthinking things. Certainly, Onward to Glory is a fine slab of death metal, and a fine soundtrack for the average half hour. For me, however, it’s simply over when it’s over. It lacks that staying power, and I wish the album had been written and produced just a little bit differently here and there to allow Peppiatt and Haley to really shine as they clearly can. The album’s highlights – its B-side especially – are clear indications that there’s a good thing in here, but that isn’t a very reassuring comment to make on an album that is only half an hour long.

Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Prosthetic Records
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: July 9th, 2021

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