Gothic rock has become one of the most oversaturated scenes in music in the past decade. With the advent of bands like Evanescence and Lacuna Coil and their worldwide success, the gothic rock and metal scenes have exploded tenfold what they used to be, especially with female-fronted bands within these genres. Such an inundation of music means that newer bands have less of a chance of being noticed because their sound will seem to lack originality. A new gothic rock band has to have something remarkable in order to stand out, much more so than ten years ago. Such is the struggle of Dommin, a Los Angeles-based quartet that has existed since the gothic surge of the early decade, but only recently got their official start after signing with Roadrunner Records. On their debut album, Love Is Gone, the band tries to show where they stand out from the rest of the scene, with varying degrees of success.
Dommin has two things going for them that will make them stand out from the pack. The first is the excellent singing of vocalist, lead guitarist, and namesake Kristofer Dommin. His soulful voice is completely unique, and his style carries the best elements of many different influences, ranging from 1950s big band crooners and 1960s soul to the dark alternative styles of modern bands like Depeche Mode and Staind. The second standout quality is the excellent keyboard play of Konstantine. With keyboards at the forefront of the sound on numerous songs, Konstantine keeps them sounding fresh by varying the sound set on each song, switching between standard piano tones, huge epic organs, and even bells, which are rare to hear in any non-progressive style of rock. The variation on the keyboards enlivens the atmosphere of each song very well.
Dommin’s biggest drawback, though, is that their style of gothic rock is inconsistent over the course of the album. While it’s good to have stylistic variety, Dommin is all over the place, not sticking to any one method between songs. Most songs on the album fall at one of two points on the mood spectrum. Some, like “Tonight” and “Dark Holiday”, are upbeat and vibrant, with a decidedly more animated feel to them. Others, such as “My Heart, Your Hands” and “I Still Lost”, are much more somber and slow-moving, relying on big choruses and emotion-filled lyrics to keep listeners engaged. The sharp contrast between these two styles makes the album seem disjointed at times. The band would be better suited choosing one style and sticking to it, even though they play both styles very well.
Love Is Gone is a promising debut album for Dommin, despite its flaws. Fans of Paradise Lost, the 69 Eyes, and HIM will find a lot to like on this album. Dommin has the potential to stand among gothic rock’s best bands if they can shore up their sound and choose to predominantly play in one style. Considering that Kristofer Dommin himself describes the band as “the sound of the brokenhearted”, the band might do best by sticking to the solemn, emotional songs like “My Heart, Your Hands”, as these songs are some of the most memorable on the album.
// Notes from the Road
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