Fear Of Domination - Atlas - (7/10)
Published on May 22, 2016
My experience with Fear of Domination has been anything but customary and predictable. My first exposure to these eclectic Finns was Distorted Delusions, an album that I have to admit has grown on me less and less over time. Each time I delved deeper in Fear of Domination’s back catalogue I realized that the positive attributes I so appreciated in their sound were becoming more and more pronounced. In the earliest throes of evolution, 2009’s Call of Schizophrenia was for all intents and purposes chunky melodic death with heavyweight production values and tasteful use of Deathstars-esque synths; basically a dark, cyber metal-esque vibe that doesn’t overdo the vocals like Distorted Delusions at many times does.
So going into Atlas, I could certainly imagine what it was going to sound like; and for the first song this is indeed the case, albeit in the worst way possible. “Divided” opens up with Solin rambling incoherently behind the mic, eventually relying on barking “Suck it!” alongside rapped intonation and an unsettlingly melodic refrain with choral backing vocals. This idiosyncratic start gives way to the much more reliable Fear of Domination I recall from Create.Control.Exterminate. with ‘Primordial” and “Colossus,” two rollicking industrialized war machines fusing flesh-searing Slayer thrashing with a rhythm-centric, pulsing dark aesthetic. The punishing primacy of the palm-muted riff assault plays off with obsidian sheen of the uber-polished synths splendidly. Tunes like “Primordial” ride super-catchy synth leads redolent of earlier classics like “Pandemonium.” Solin’s guttural bark is largely accounted for, snapping his dystopian orders atop a pulpit of charred bones and rust.
Atlas begins to run into serious problems when compared to its elder siblings sonically. The album lacks the destructive depth-of-field evident on the earliest material, which had enough strength of bark to mitigate the admitted lack of bite. Nearly all of the standout moments are to be credited to the curious characteristics that still define the band. Be it the ethnic vocal interjections on ‘Messiah” or the sparkling solo work on “El Toro,” brilliant moments still remain, even if they are less frequent than ever before. Tunes like “Primordial” and especially “Adrenaline” render the album to a more mainstream crowd, and the latter is without a doubt the gem of the record. “Adrenaline” leans more on power chords and chunky, basic riffs to sell the metal appeal, while the refrain and keyboard lines shine like a supernova. This has to be the band’s most accessible and memorable number since “Pandemonium.” Bravo for a great and truly memorable anthem!
There is a fair amount of variety encapsulated in Atlas‘ relatively compact running time, and as usual Solin’s charismatic vocal performance makes the entire experience much less embarrassing to listen to. Yet again, it is important that this band is not judged directly against their hyperbolic appearance, as the music is far more straight-laced and reliable. Fear of Domination sound like Deathstars if they suddenly inherited balls alongside more dependable songwriting, all the while retaining the antiseptic, industrial atmosphere of albums such as Termination Bliss. This isn’t Fear of Domination at their best, but in the end that is not a requirement for a listenable album, which Atlas certainly is.