Solo and side projects are nothing new – many musicians enjoy the creative freedom of expression while still being committed to their initial band ideals. One such musician is Jason Peppiatt, vocalist for Australian tech death metal unit PSYCROPTIC. In 2021, Peppiatt launched his solo project DOMINATION CAMPAIGN with debut album Onward To Glory. Enlisting the assistance of long-term recording partner and fellow PSYCROPTIC musician Joe Haley, this first record delivered a more foundational death metal sound, stripping back the layers that can be found on PSYCROPTIC records. Initially this debut was well received if some critics perhaps deemed it a bit too predictable when it came to content and structure, and now the creative duo look to take DOMINATION CAMPAIGN a step further with second album A Storm Of Steel.
Picking up where the previous album left off, A Storm Of Steel launches into Time To Die. Pounding drums herald the arrival of a crushing yet irresistible riff. It’s a hook that delivers a massive pull and highlights the core death metal roots that the duo is harkening back to, and the track itself is an ideal illustration that this project is far more than a one off, flash in the pan.
Where the debut was a powerful stomping beast of a record with little to no subtlety contained within its DNA, A Storm Of Steel has a more layered and melodic approach. There are still colossal riffs and rhythms aplenty that show no weakness when it comes to the death metal delivery; tracks such as The Iron Beast and Storm The Lines are as pulverising and raucous as the titles would suggest. Yet the songwriting and craft behind the relentless sonic onslaught is such that far from being insubstantial, the music being produced has a gut-punching presence. There are layers of melody and intricacy that enable these tracks to stand out on an album full of highlights and to produce a genuinely captivating atmosphere. There is something more to the creative vision of DOMINATION CAMPAIGN which takes these tracks to a new level.
Some might see the work of Peppiatt and Haley as an indulgence, picking up on cues from the death metal old guard such as BOLT THROWER, DEICIDE and the like for the musical takes and certainly thematically using the typical war backdrop that is prevalent of the genre. However, the growth and development between the two releases is clear. There is still the ever-present homage, but the enthusiasm and talent of the two musicians oozes through each track. They’ve got an independent direction and they are running freely with it, and there is an eagerness behind the music which effortlessly propels the formidable groove of DOMINATION CAMPAIGN. A Storm Of Steel is relentless from start to finish and outrageously fun.
In summary, A Storm Of Steel is a riff a minute riot. At face value one may take the view that this is simple death metal, taking its cues from bigger forerunners. While it certainly does show its influences proudly, album number two firmly illustrates DOMINATION CAMPAIGN standing out on their own. As a duo, Peppiatt and Haley have developed from Onward To Glory and are now flying free with their vision. There’s a lot to like and more to enjoy with each listen.
A Storm Of Steel is set for release on January 12th via Prosthetic Records.
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