Hard Reviews 5
by Martin Popoff

Earth Crisis - Slither
(Victory)

Back where they belong on Victory, Earth Crisis remain at the head of the hardcore elite through complex, thoughtful songwriting and an awareness of new, old, in the driveway and out back behind the shed metal styles. If Breed The Killers was the band's most metal record, this one drags along those bits, plus a strong hard er, core, and injects a few elements from the newer, ever-evolving field of rapcore. But you can't fault a band like Earth Crisis. Their ethic for growth is ingrained, and these bass-grooved structures sound quite natural, given the fact that a band like Slipknot owes more to hardcore than any other form of hard music. Karl Buechner has also adjusted accordingly, adding a tuneful croon to offset his now cleaner barks. Man, I'm saying all this and I can see the band's long-time fans revolting, if they haven't left already. Fact is, this is the most accessible record of their career, as well as the most modern sounding album on the Victory roster. High respect for what they've accomplished, and the fact that they've changed a fair bit once again. But I'd rather hear the deathy and traditional leanings of their Roadrunner debacle.
Rating 7

Domine - Dragonlord (Tales Of The Noble Steel)
(Metal Blade)

Pretty sad when you've got ex-members of Death SS and Sabotage mailing in a Hammerfall rip-off. Death SS: yow! Well, I guess the new thing is following Luca and his Rhapsodic pied pipers past Virgin Steele and old done-like-dinner Manowar well into the reading material of 12-year-olds. File this one with White Skull and Sacred Steel, then run the hell away. I mean, Italian metal bands have always belaboured whatever flavour of a point was the trend of the name game, and Domine are no different, Hammerfalling into the ground their dumb tales of blackswords. Musically? An epic keyboard-sullied version of goofy power metal I guess, way into those annoying melodies, safe but uninspired recording values, sorta tight, sorta not. If you want grunge to lumberjack back and re-affirm metal formats for half-ways intelligent people, then this is the way to do it.
Rating 2