Dominate is Adagio’s third album, not to mention their most controversial among fans. The replacement of singer David Readman with Gus Monsanto seemed to have been the first step that lead Adagio down the road that fans are in an uproar about. Dominate is much heavier and darker than their previous works, with the addition of some growling vocals from guitarist Stephan Forte. Despite what everyone else says, though, this album has become one of my favorites.
The opening track, “Fire Forever,” is an awesome punch-in-the-face song. The power metal side of Adagio has come out in full force here, though they have not forgotten the classically influenced characteristics that they’ve molded into their own unique sound. The keyboards have taken a back seat to the slaying guitars, but are prominent enough to add the needed atmosphere.
“Terror Jungle” is strongly reminiscent of Symphony X, with the exception of a random death metal moment one might find in Kalmah or Moonspell. Gus Monsanto’s vocals on “Children of the Dead Lake” are very much like Edu Falaschi of Angra (oddly enough, they’re both Brazilian). The overlapping of Monsanto’s singing and Forte’s growls on “R’lyeh the Dead” is quite eerie, adding to the dark mood of the entire album.
Stephan Forte’s solos shred but still contain structure and substance, rather than him just seeing how fast he can move his fingers. There are probably twice as many guitar solos than keyboard solos, which is one disappointing factor since Kevin Codfert is an amazing player. There’s still some piano snuck in there once in a while, though, which has always been one of my favorite things about Adagio.
The most surprising song on the album is their cover of the Broadway song, “Fame.” Not ever hearing the original, I can’t compare, but if there were a Broadway show that rocked this much, I’d be there in a heartbeat. It’s not something you’d expect on an album like this, but it shows that these guys know how to have fun.
Adagio fans attached to the greatness that was Underworld don’t appreciate the new path the band has taken, but as one who loves the heavy side of progressive and power metal, this album ranks high for me.
1. Fire Forever
2. Arcanas Tenebrae/Dominate
3. Terror Jungle
4. Children of the Dead Lake
5. R'Lyeh the Dead
6. The Darkitecht
7. Kissing the Crow