Sorry other parts of the world, but I’m going to talk about American football for a moment. During my sophomore and junior years of high school, I had considerable success playing on the defensive line. Going into my senior year, my coach decided that I should play linebacker to maximize the potential for both our team and myself as an individual, and when Coach Smith tells you to do something, you do it or you get the hill again. For the first two weeks of practice, I learned the position and the plays, and everything seemed to be ok. But during an exhibition against a another team, I found myself compelled to try to hit the quarterback on every single play, regardless of my actual assignment. I learned that old habits die hard, and so did my coach who said, “Let’s just have you stick with what you do best.” And so I did.
Sometimes, bands should too. In 2015, Greek thrashers Domination Inc. (minus the “Inc.” back then) released their debut Infants of Thrash. Take one look at the band’s name, and it shouldn’t surprise you that Infants sounds a
cowboys from hell of a lot like Pantera. Fast forward four years and sophomore effort Memoir 414 finds the band wanting to “slightly move away from our initial old-school sound” and hoping that it will sound “heavier and more modern.” Sometimes it’s hard to watch your Infants turn into angry toddlers, and based on the fact that my favorite track on Memoir 414 would have fit comfortably on the debut, I kind of wish this baby hadn’t grown up. The track in question, “Dehumanized” thrashes hard and takes advantage of a slick production to showcase Ares and Kostas on guitar. When they put the pedal to the floor, they can riff with the best and it sounds great with Theo’s gnarly Anselmo and Brian Fair (Shadow’s Fall) style vocals.
Fortunately there’s more thrash to be found on Memoir 414. Embed “The Sickening” shows the band succeeding pretty well at their vision of the “modern metal” sound, opener “Cutting Edge” sounds like The War Within era Shadows Fall, and penultimate track “Culling” has some great Testament riffing. “The Eye” is a competent take on Machine Head‘s groove/thrash style, but this comparison is also where Domination Inc. begins to lose me. “Dark City” sounds like it could have been a rejected track from Burn My Eyes, but the biggest
machine head scratcher arrives in the form of “Day VIII: Deus’ Ignorance.” It’s nearly 10 minutes long, and despite having some solid grooves, it doesn’t do enough to justify even half of that length — The Blackening this is not. Closing things out is “Love Me Forever” an attempted Pantera/MH ballad that can’t quite overcome its cringe-inducing Robb Flynn-esque emo intro.
The production is heavy and modern and the guitars have a seriously satisfying
cinnamon toast crunch to them. Jim’s bass is an integral part of the mix, and it really adds to the thickness of sound on Memoir 414. Domination Inc. has the tools to really succeed in the thrash/groove game, but they need to work on their editing skills. The tracklist could use some shuffling — there’s no reason that a 10 minute chugger should appear as the second song — and many of the tracks could be shaved by a minute or two. There are enough good tracks in the form of “Cutting Edge,” “The Sickening,” “Dehumanized,” “The Eye,” and “Culling” to keep Memoir 414 from landing in “disappointing” territory, but the album’s flaws result in an offering that is truly mixed.
Much like high school Holdeneye needed to focus on chasing quarterbacks and blowing up trap blocks, Domination Inc. needs to take a look at their skills and proceed accordingly. They have thrash chops and can noodle away progressively, but they all too often fall into a simple groove rut that kills any momentum that they’re able to build. I see Memoir 414 being a transitional album for the band, and hopefully their next one ends up being more memoir-able.
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Steamhammer | SPV
Websites: facebook.com/dominationinc.official | dominationinc.bandcamp.com | www.domination-inc.com
Releases Worldwide: August 23rd, 2019