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Dominus Praelii - "Holding The Flag Of War" (CD)

Dominus Praelii - "Holding The Flag Of War" CD cover image

"Holding The Flag Of War" track listing:

1. Hard Deadly Wheels
2. Scent Of Death
3. Khan's Warriors
4. Khan's Legacy
5. Cold Winds
6. Knight of The Silver Moon
7. Saga of Killing Riders
8. Hall of Power
9. Waves of War
10. Intro
11. Waves of War (demo version)
12. Khan's Warrior (demo version)
13. Mighty Odin (demo version - live)

Reviewed by on April 12, 2009

"This band, whose name translates as 'lord of the battle,' obviously has a fondness for the music of my metal youth, with an early 1980s sound full of mythic battles, cold Nordic winds, and axes of the battle and electric varieties."

Dominus Praelii's "Holding The Flag Of War" is one of those albums that I feel like I should like a lot more than I actually do. This band, whose name translates as "lord of the battle," obviously has a fondness for the music of my metal youth, with an early 1980s sound full of mythic battles, cold Nordic winds, and axes of the battle and electric varieties. On paper, it seemed that this album would be right up my alley. Unfortunately, this is one case of idea being far superior to execution.

To be sure, there are some high marks to be had here. "Cold Winds," for example, is instrumentally speaking, on a par with the Reagan-era rockers like Manowar, that the band so admires. The guitar work by Evandro Romero and Silvio Rocha is quite good here, and makes it easy to forget that the lyrics are both clumsy and cliched.

"Khan's Legacy" is another solid track, with a great sing-along chorus and a somewhat interesting retelling of the story of Genghis Khan. It has some good time changes that make it seem less repetitive than much of the album.

Unfortunately, these two are really the only memorable tracks on an otherwise humdrum album. The problem, quite frankly, is that most of the songs sound almost exactly the same. For example, the riff that opens the album's second track, "Scent of Death," is almost identical to one that appeared in the opener, "Hard Deadly Wheels," just played slower. It would be one thing if this was some kind of thematic statement, but I suspect that it was just clumsy sequencing.

Drummer Rafael Guilhen does his part in dulling down the album by playing what seems to be exactly the same kick-drum part — at exactly the same speed — in many of the songs. Of course, if he was doing something interesting with toms, snares and cymbals, it's possible that it wouldn't be a huge flaw, but he isn't.

Ricardo Pigatto's vocals are pretty good, with a deep tone reminiscent of Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden's lower range. Unfortunately, he's occasionally covered up a bit much by the other instruments. Besides that, what he's given to sing is unintentionally silly. If you're not a "lyrics guy," it probably won't matter much, but for a writer like me, phrases like "He carried the glory in his soul and his prize was extreme force" from "Knight of The Silver Moon," and "Possessing armored bodies without any fragile streams" from "Saga of Killing Riders," will just grate on you.

This album already feels long before you get to some pretty pointless bonus material that puts it over the hour mark. Like I said before, I really wanted to like this album a lot, and I listened to it more times through than any other that I've reviewed. Unfortunately, repeated listening just revealed more flaws.

Dominus Praelii claims to be holding the flag for '80s metal on "Holding The Flag Of War," but this album's hardly a banner moment for them.

Highs: The slow "Cold Winds," and a great sing-along chorus on "Khan's Legacy."

Lows: Too many of the songs sound the same, with poor drumming.

Bottom line: Sound-alike songs and silly lyrics make this one to miss for all but the most ardent '80s metal fans.

Rated 2 out of 5 skulls
2 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)