The Italian band DOMINE have released a lot of albums so far, and they have a strong underground following. They are not as popular as RHAPSODY and LABYRINTH, but actually they should deserve to be as popular as them, because the band has an own style, which sets them apart from all those RHAPSODY-clones currently coming out of Italy. DOMINE is playing True 80s Melodic Metal with strong MAIDEN similarities, yet with an own approach. I did a long interview with the band, because who would have thought they exists for more than 20 years now!

Please introduce us your band, when did you form DOMINE?

Hi Everybody ! We are Domine, we come from Florence, Italy and we play a kind of Metal that many people describe has Epic Power Metal. We are around for quite some time. I put together the very first line-up of Domine in 1983, with some school mates. In the beginning we were just learning to play and did some covers. Things got a little better when we started writing our own songs. We did our first demo in 1986 and we did 3 more demos in the following years until 1994. We were very amateurish and the metal scene in Italy was simply not existent. It was really hard to play live and there were just a couple of independent labels which signed Italian bands, with bad results. So, it took a lot of time to get better and put together a good line-up. This happened in 1995 and we started to work on our first album.

Did any of you play in bands before DOMINE?

No. I started Domine and that has always been my band and top priority. In 1991, I help Mimmo’s band Masterstroke (Domine drummer for the first two cds) but that was a different kind of band and it did not contrast with Domine in any way. Mimmo was in other bands before Domine, beside Masterstroke. He played in a lot of bands in Florence during the 80s before he joined a band called Death SS and he did 2 albums with them. After that he got Masterstroke and then joined Domine. Morby is the one who had more experiences. He started singing in 1981 in a band called Airspeed, then joined Sabotage and did 2 albums with them. They were a great band, one of the best in Italy in those days and they got really near to sign a big contract with Metal Blade in 1988. After Sabotage split, Morby sang in many different bands like LaRox, Time Machine, Labyrinth and Rio Bravo. Stefano, our actual drummer used to play in a black metal band called Necromass and did 2 cds with
them. Riccardo, my brother, has always been in Domine, while Riccardo, keyboards player, had just played in bands with friends with no releases. He’s the kid of the band.

Please tell us all about your previous CDs...

We have recorded 3 albums before “Emperor Of The Black Runes”. The very first cd was called “Champion Eternal” and it was releases in 1997. It was some kind of a new start, with a new and stronger line-up and a lot of songs to play. It came out after many years in the underground and the four demo tapes and we had established our personal style and in the cd there are Epic Metal songs like “Stormbringer (The Black Sword)”, “Army of The Dead” and Power Metal assaults like “The Mass Of Chaos” and “The Midnight Meat Train”. Some of the songs have progressive structures like the epic title track, “The Eternal Champion”, a 12 minutes long suite divided in seven parts. The first cd was recorded with a very low budget but we got some good feedback from the fans of the classic Heavy Metal style. We started to get some attention and we played as support for bands like Rage and Grave Digger. In 1999 we recorded our second album “Dragonlord – Tales Of The Noble Steel”; It’s the first cd with Riccardo on keyboards. The album has been recorded at New Sin Audio Design studio with a bigger budget. The studio has become a leading light for Italian heavy metal bands, thanks to the great skills of sound engineer Luigi Stefanini. Songs like “Dragonlord (The Grand Master Of The Mightiest Beasts)”, “Last Of The Dragonlord (Lord Elric’s Imperial March)” and the 13 minutes long “The Battle For The Great Silver Sword” (A Suite in VII Parts) are the most EPIC tracks ever recorded by the band, while fans of more aggressive and faster songs are crushed by the double bass drums assault of “Thunderstorm” and “Defenders”. Morby proves to be the Best Heavy Metal Singer of the Italian scene, with his incredible range. We signed a deal with Metal Blade for the release of “Dragonlord” in USA and the cd was licensed in Brazil, along with the re-release of “Champion Eternal”.

“Dragonlord” is also released in Japan, with a cover of Queensryche’s classic “Queen Of The Reich” as bonus, and in Taiwan. “Dragonlord” got enthusiastic reviews in all the most important magazines. Soon after the recording of the album, drummer Mimmo decided to quit musical activities. New drummer is Stefano Bonini. After the release of the album, the band began live activity, playing a sold out gig in Athens, Greece, and undertaking their first European tour with Riot, Anvil and Agent Steel. The tour was called “Metallic Movement 2000” and travelled across Holland, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Italy, Switzerland, France and Spain. We did a lot of shows, playing at the Gods Of Metal Festival 2000 with Iron Maiden and with bands like Running Wild, Rage, Gamma Ray, Grave Digger. in April 2001, we recorded our 3rd album “Stormbringer Ruler – The Legend of the Power Supreme”, again at New Sin Audio Design. "Stormbringer Ruler" is again powerful and personal album of EPIC POWER METAL with the speed metal assaults of "The Hurricane Master" and "True Leader Of Men";

the symphonic arrangements of "The Ride Of The Valkyries", a tribute to Richard Wagner; the celtic harmonies of "The Bearer Of The Black Sword" and "Dawn Of A New Day - A Celtic Requiem"; the slow and emotional "For Evermore" and the Epic Metal rides of "Horn Of Fate" and "The Fall Of The Spiral Tower". Four songs are parts of a mini-concept entitled “The Chronicles of the Black Sword – The End on an Era”, inspired by the final part of the saga of Elric of Melnibonč, and tells the story of the final destiny of Michael Moorcock’s Elric Of Melnibonč, Dragonlord and Ruler of the Black Sword Stormbringer. We also recorded a cover version of the mega classic “Stargazer” by Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow, one of the very first Epic Metal songs ever, for Japan only. Again, a lot of enthusiastic reviews was licensed and released in Japan, Taiwan, USA, Canada, Mexico, Brazil and Russia. After the release, we did more shows, Gods Of Metal Festival 2002 (with Manowar and Blind Guardian) and Wacken Open Air 2002 (on the True Metal stage).

Your new CD has just been released, please tell me all about it.

The cd is called “Emperor Of The Black Runes” and it’s Domine’s fourth album. We recorded the album in May 2003 and we were scheduled for release in October but then we got a very good offer from the Japanese label Avalon. They offered a good deal for a license but they ask to release the album before anybody else in November. We had to delay the release to February because of all the Christmas holidays but the Japanese offer was too good to refuse. They even had a cover of the Riot classic “Altar Of The King” as exclusive bonus track ! Anyway, the new album is another piece of Epic Power Metal in our own style. If you liked our previous album you are going to love this one better ! We are very happy with the result, it’s a good mix of long Epic Metal songs and fast Power Metal tracks. We have improved the sound again, and we have work more on the arrangments than previous albums. In our opinion “Emperor Of The Black Runes” is another step forward for Domine, were
we are pushing the limits of the band’s style with a good balance of fast, classic heavy metal songs and long EPIC tracks. We wrote songs in the style we love, putting a better effort in production and arrangements, making the new songs traditional and exciting at the same time.

The new cd shows Domine playing songs in our own Epic Power Metal style but with a few injections of Prog Rock, Hard Rock, Celtic and acoustic music. The songs are really aggressive when they are heavy and fast and
atmospheric when they are more melodic or acoustic. We have a few powerful speed metal assaults like opener “Battle Gods (Of The Universe)” and “True Believer”, which are the most “live” sounding songs with a crushing and aggressive sound, while songs like “Arioch, The Chaos Star” and “The Song Of The Swords” follow the classic 80’s metal tradition of Judas Priest Priest and Iron Maiden. “The Aquilonia Suite” is an 11 minutes titanic “tour de force” based on the “Conan The Barbarian” books by R.E. Howard and on the movie soundtrack by Basil Poledouris. More Epic Metal mixed with Celtic harmonies comes back in ultra Epic “The Sun Of The New Season” and in the all-acoustic track “The Forest Of Light”, a track which shows Domine’s appreciation of Jethro Tull, Genesis, Loreena McKennitt and Irish folk music. A fair amount of melody shows up in “Prince In The Scarlet Robe” (based on the Corum books by Michael Moorcock) and “Icarus Ascending” with some
hints of Hard Rock (Kansas, Queen). You can tell there’s a good variety of sounds. I hope you like you.

Are there any stories behind the songs on your new CD?

Well, the lyrics on this album are in part based on books and on more personal thoughts and experiences. I’m a huge Heroic Fantasy and Sword’n’Sorcery litterature fan, I love writers like Micheal Moorcock, Robert E.Howard, Paul Anderson, Frank Herbert, Gene Wolf, Ursula LeGuin, Tanith Lee, Clive Barker, H.P.Lovecraft, and J.R.R. Tolkyen, of course. I’ve been into this kind of readings since I was a kid, even much longer before I actually discovered Metal music. I guess I was attracted to Metal music because I saw it had lyrics about those kind of stories and epic atmospheres. I have read 100s of. “The Aquilonia Suite” is based on the “Conan The Barbarian” books by R.E. Howard. “Battle Gods” and “Overture Mortale” are, musically inspired by a theme from W.A.Mozart’s “Don Juan”, while on the lyric side, it’s inspired by a chinese sword’n’sorcery movie
called “Legend Of Zu”. Very Epic. “Arioch, The Chaos Star” is lyrically loosely based on the Michael Moorcock’s books, but I took a chance to put something personal, talking about universal evil. Same thing “Icarus Ascending”. I started from the myth of Icarus to write about freedom, in a personal way. “The Prince In The Scarlet Robe” is based on the Corum saga by Michael Moorcock. It has the subtitle “The Three Who Are One part I” so I can write about other characters in future songs. “The Song Of The Sword” is again based on the Elric of Melnibonč books, in particular on the first book of the saga. “The Sun Of The New Season” is Epic and melancholic, with a lot of Celtic harmonies and it’s a song about hope for the future. “True Believer” is another very personal lyrics, dedicated to everybody who spend his life believing in something, whatever it may be. The cd ends with “The Forest Of Light”, an all-acoustic song that was a kind of experiment for us. The lyrics are about a kind of calm after the storm, another song of hope for the future and very loosely inspired by the theme of Tanelorn, the city of peace, from the Moorcock books. You can tell there’s a lot of work behind the lyrics.

What makes your band different than the other Power Metal bands?

I don’t think Domine is totally Power Metal. We do have that side in our style, in the faster tracks like “Thunderstorm” or “Battle Gods” but we are much more rooted into the classic Heavy Metal of the 80s and I think that’s the biggest difference between us and most of the European Power Metal bands. We have a lot of those classic Metal elements, like big guitars upfront in the mix. We use keyboards but not in a symphonic way, except for a few songs like “The Ride Of The Valkyries” of course. I think Riccardo has a kind of rhythmic approach, like some kind of guitar player and at the same time he can switch to more melodic and atmospheric parts. Usually Power Metal bands, especially the German and Finnish bands, are a little “cold” with a more “technical” and modern feel. I think Domine still has a kind of New Wave Of British heavy Metal feel, five guys
playing together with not much technology. We have a very natural approach, we sweat in our rehearsal place and on stages, we are not good with computers or samplers.

Which bands influenced you?

Well, we have our own personal sound after years of hard work but I would really feel stupid not to mention bands like Manowar, Iron Maiden, Queen, Kansas, Thin Lizzy, Jethro Tull, Judas Priest and Virgin Steele as influence, just to name a few. Also more obscure and underground bands like Warlord, Cirith Ungol, Manilla Road, Helstar. We also love many other artists like Prog Rock bands, classic music, soundtracks, acoustic music. We are big music fans, we listen to a lot of different music and I think it’s pretty natural to be influenced by the artists you love. Then, of course, you work on your songs and style and make it personal and not just of copy. But I can not deny there are great artists who still means a lot to me and they made me the musician I am now. I’m also grateful for the beautiful feelings they still give me. Domine is an honest band, we respect our heroes !

Do you feel there's a lot of competition in Italy between all the bands, because there are quite a lot of bands playing your kind of style?

Not really. First of all I must say that a lot of foreign people are thinking there’s a big Heavy Metal scene in Italy but this is no true. As you said, in the last years there had been many bands coming out with albums but the Metal scene is still really underground. Most of the bands who put out an album do not even play live, they are not as active as they might seem. We have some good relationship with bands like White Skull, Beholder, Labyrinth, Vision Divine, Drakkar, Centurion, Mesmerize, DoomSword, Thunderstorm. We have shared the stage with them and many others and we realized it’s a lot better to unite and work together for a better scene than just put up some kind of competition. There are already too many problems to face. If you look at the Italian charts, you will hardly find Metallica, Iron Maiden and Bon Jovy, that’s it. With “Dragonlord”, our second album, we entered the chart for one week only at number 98 and it was unbelievable. There’s no Heavy Metal in the big and important medias, Mtv is just ridiculous. So, it’s only up to the most dedicated bands and a few labels to work on Heavy Metal music and go on no matter what happens. Domine is doing well in Italy, thanks to some very good magazines that support Italian bands and to some kids who follow bands and support them. We will have 3 magazine covers in February. We were also offered some good gigs like Gods Of Metal and Heineken Jamming Festival. There are some good bands that go on working hard but there’s hardly a scene that can be called like that. Anyway, we had been through the scene in the 80s and 90s and those years were even more difficult. I don’t know, maybe there’s more work to do.

How does the future look like for DOMINE? Touring plans? More CDs?

We are checking if there’s any chance to jump on a European our as support band. We have a couple of chances but still no confirmation. Things are so difficult nowdays, there are not many tours anymore and there are a lot of good bands which want to be part of them. We have already planned some gigs in Italy during April and we will be back to play in Greece in March. We are also planning to play on a few summer festivals and maybe do more gigs with other Italian bands. We would LOVE to go to play everywhere ! Just invite us !

Thanks for answering the questions, anything to add for yourself?

First of all, I want to thank you Gabor for your time and support and everybody who read so far. I just want to invite all the classic Heavy Metal fans to check our web site and give a listening to our new album “Emperor Of The Black Runes”, I hope you enjoy it as much as we do. Ciao!!!!!!