Doi Porras, singer and leader of the five-piece Gloom Rock band Dominion, is a long-haired, charismatic, leather-clad figure, adorned in sunglasses and cowboy boots who shows up dressed the same every day to business meetings, family outings or singing concerts on stage, a cross between a punk rocker, mob boss and Hell’s Angel. He says, “Dominion has always had its own path, regardless of how other people do it.”
Dominion’s attitude — a non-conformist, rebellious way of conducting life, business and music, has gained international respect and notoriety since the band began in the Philippines in 1994, then migrated to California to start anew in 2012. When playing their high octane live show, the band looks like a bunch of undead vampires (or Aswangs hunters as the band calls it. Aswangs are a vampire-like mythical creature in Filipino folklore.) Doi Porras sings and stalks the stage like a panther, throwing his microphone stand into the air and then later spinning the mic around by the chord like a warlock’s staff. Clad in a gothic leather vest, dark black sunglasses, a white face, guitarist “Iron” Mike Ramos runs around stage with his guitar running after fans as though he is going to run them down. Bassist Luis Murillo spins and jumps around on stage as though possessed by an otherworldly spirit. Adorned in skulls and torn-up jeans, drummer Dave Jurgens throws big, thick drum sticks around the stage and at singing audience members while flailing around vigorously on the drum kit banging his head. Keyboardist Ollie Palma looks like Frankenstein, as though he is about to break loose from his keyboards that quake when he plays. An eerie sound emanates from the band. Welcome to the undead party the band seems to say. Welcome to Gloom Rock music, welcome to Dominion.
What is Gloom Rock music? A term the band fondly describes as their sound, a combination of atmospheric 80’s Goth Rock and Progressive Hard Rock drawing creative inspiration bands like the Sisters of Mercy, the Cult and the Cure. Dominion’s lyrics range from topics such as prophecies of impending apocalyptic doom, to Vampires Aswangs, as well as nations divided by war. Dominion’s lyrics tell a story of dark mystical legends and horrific creatures which go bump in the night set against the back drop of hard, cold gritty reality of our society today. The message seems to be that our modern world is an infusion of hope and anxiety, darkness and light, the reflection of tough times with an infusion of hope looking ahead to the future, but still the long road ahead looms with challenges.
On such songs as “Mandarigma,” “Storm” or “The Last Time,” guitarist Mike Ramos unleashes a full scale sonic assault of guitar virtuosity which is delightfully unique due to its very un-guitar-like sound at times. Sometimes the guitar sounds like a violin (“Mandarigma”), other times like spiders (“Drowning Inside”), other times you cannot tell if it is keyboards being played or guitar (“Aswang”). Swirling and coalescing around the guitars is keyboardist Ollie Palma, providing some mind bending, out of the box unconventional sounds such as a dark symphony of spirit voices (“Mandarigma”), an urgent warning siren (“Eye for an Eye”), or a distant echo bass reverb (Storm). The Dominion symphony of destruction is led by its conductor, its leader, the unpredictable, chameleon-like singer Doi Porras whose impressive vocal range is one minute silky smooth, soaring over the heavens, and then the next suddenly raging like a demon, all within the same song. Bassist Luis Murillo’s powerful bass tones, both equally seductive and ferociously aggressive, drive the band forward like a fast moving freight train. Drummer Dave Jurgens adds eyebrow raising fills, impressive symbol work as well as unique almost African like tribal polyrhythmic drum beats.
Dominion seems to be a band of our times. Despite the surreal aspects of our modern society with vying powers of influence marketing to us on how to act and how to be, Dominion cuts through it all with a refreshing, unique alternative sound and message — it is okay to be yourself, cut your own path, don’t let anyone tell you different. Anything else you hear, well, is just Gloom.
For anyone lovers of music or casual listeners looking for something new and fresh, I highly recommend checking out Dominion’s album and live show.
On Saturday, Sept 3 , Dominion will be gracing the stage for a One Night only engagement for the Award winning Movie Vampariah at the Great Star Theater, 7 pm, located at 636 Jackson Street, SF, CA 94133. As a very special treat ,the public will have the rare benefit of experiencing a larger and stronger Dominion Family onstage just for this night. The band has prepared a full circle live gathering of Dominion members just for this rare celebration, it will be their pleasure to introduce the addition of the lovely voice of Sophia Nyctophilia (Vocals), Robert Ballesteros (Drums), Gary Gimena (Bass) and Hector Aguilar (Guitars) from Los Angeles, alongside the formidable Dominion Family tree.
Check out Dominion on Facebook here for more information.
For music, band and show information visit the Dominion web site.
For tickets to the show on Saturday, September 3 at the Great Star Theater click here.
For more information about the Vampariah movie see the SF Sonic article Damned to Hell and Loving It.
Listen to Aswang:
Listen to the song Mandarigma:
Listen to the song Storm:
The album Storm is available here on ReverbNation available with a free download.