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On disc: Serenity

Fallen Sanctuary - Claudia Ehrhardt - 9 stars
Death & Legacy - Claudia Ehrhardt - 9 stars

Death and Legacy

Death & Legacy
(Napalm Records - 2011)

Austrian symphonic metal band Serenity is back with Death & Legacy, an album which tells stories about some prominent characters of the past. But they also had to overcome a line-up change during the production, Simon Holzknecht left and Fabio D'Amore is the new Serenity bassist. Musically you get what you expect from Serenity - symphonic power metal with some progressive elements, soaring vocals and catchy hooks.

The intro Set Sail To leads you into the album with the sound of wind and waves. New Horizons is the first real song which deals with the journeys of Sir Francis Drake. Musically it's a symphonic power metal song with slow, balladesque passages and up-tempo, guitar-driven parts. At The Chevalier it's easier to guess who it's about. Giacomo Casanova in this song falls in love with a woman, unfortunately the only woman who withstands him. It's also the first duet on the album. For this tune Ailyn (Sirenia) joined Georg Neuhauser.

Far From Home is about Bartolomeu Dias who wanted to find the way to India on sea by sailing along the African coast - but his crew decided to go back home. The following track Heavenly Mission is based on a heavy riff and guitar-driven but also very catchy. At this track Jaques de Molay, the last grand master of the order of the Temple, has doubts about his fate and the order at the day of his execution. A very emotional tune which shines due to the expressive vocal performance of Georg Neuhauser. A short interlude follows, Prayer is kicking off with bells tolling, a choir is the background of a prayer spoken by a Spanish soldiers woman who's husband sailed away with Hernan Cortés. State Of Siege is the story of this Spanish soldier who just wants to go back home to his wife while keeping Tenochtitlán under siege. The track expresses the feelings of the Spanish soldier, his melancholy and his longing. The semi-ballad Changing Fate follows, another song about Sir Francis Drake who fall from grace of Queen Elisabeth I and begs for mercy. If you might guessed, it's another duet. This time Amanda Somerville is taking over the female part. Again Amanda Somerville shows that she can ennoble songs with her vocal presents. Time to show some heaviness! When Canvas Starts To Burn is about Albrecht Dürer and the time he lived. The song has an aggressive edge which partly is smoothed by Mario Hirzinger's keyboard play. The last duet on Death & Legacy is Serenade Of Flames where George shares vocal duties with Delain's Charlotte Wessels. At this tune the author of Malleus Maleficarum is instructing his mates for the next night full of torturing women accused of being witches. And so the song has a dark, partly threatening feeling as well as the showing the despair of the woman. Youngest Widow kicks off with an a cappella passage and becomes a heavy, riff-based song. This time Maria Stuart is the central figure and it's the day of her execution. My only criticism about this tune, for me the story asks for a female perspective. Why not another duet? Below Eastern Skies is an Arabic-influenced interlude which leads you into Beyond Desert Sands, another up-tempo track. Here Marco Polo on his deathbed still believes that he told the truth about his journeys. To India's Shore is a powerful balladesque track which is one of the highlights of Death & Legacy. This one is about Christopher Columbus and his plan to sail to India. Lament is the last interlude, a spoken words one where Galileo Galilei laments about his lost of sight. And so the closer My Legacy is about Galilei's life and his legacy. Musically the songs adjust to the stories and offer different atmospheres.

What you get is a lesson in history by Austrian outfit Serenity, all wrapped up in symphonic power metal tunes. The songs need time to grow, even if the album is easy to get into, it will take several spins to discover all the details and so all it's beauty.

9 stars

Claudia Ehrhardt


Fallen Sanctuary

Fallen Sanctuary
(Napalm Records - 2008)

From Wörgl the progressive, symphonic metal band Serenity is trying to leave their mark on the metal scene. The Austrian quintet is now presenting their 2nd album which is called Fallen Sanctuary.
Piano leads into the opener All Lights Reversed, then singer Georg Neuhauser joins in, a bit later they go full force and the symphonic balladesque opening is replaced by a progressive power metal tune with a catchy melody. The vocals of Georg Neuhauser remind me a bit of Andrew MacDermott, even if Mac has a deeper timbre... Actually it's the vocals which make them differ from other symphonic metal bands, but also the progressive elements. A fast tune is Rust Of Coming Ages which combines complexity, heaviness and melodies spiced up with an occasional growl. A touch of sadness has Coldness Kills, an enchanting balladesque symphonic tune with an acoustic part. With Fairytales they present a piano-based ballad where they added female vocals to tell the story - done by Sandra Schleret. For The Heartblood Symphony they speed up again and bring back the heaviness, but again they use breaks... twists and turns to keep the listeners attention. At Velatum I have to think of Sargant Fury, just a symphonic version of the them. Another asset of Serenity is that they have several good singers in the band, so they can use choirs, backings and counter part vocals. The last song on the regular edition is Oceans Of Ruby, a fast track with a chorus sung by a choir and growls as a counter part to Georg Neuhauser's vocals. After a break a slow piano-based passage, then a guitar solo added before they return to the main theme.
I highly recommend this album to fans of symphonic metal who like great melodies and aren't afraid of some progressive elements. Check out: Coldness Kills, Velatum and Fairytale.

9 stars

Claudia Ehrhardt


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