Saturday, February 26, 2011

Review: Serenity - Death and Legacy (2011)

Serenity [ Website | MySpace | Facebook | Twitter ]
Death & Legacy
Napalm Records

Austria's Serenity is a power metal band that I hadn't heard much about, even though they've been together since 2001 and have released two long-players prior to this year's Death & Legacy. My ears were opened when I came across the video for "The Chevalier" (which you can view here) and I made a mental note to dig a little deeper into Serenity's repertoire. With a sound comparable to bands such as Kamelot and Helloween, Serenity's style has much more "power" to it than the stereotypical European power metal outfit. Death & Legacy rarely exhibits the flourishes that Serenity's continent-mates are notorious for doling out, instead relying on heavy riffs and appropriate keyboard use to drive the album along.

With the exception of "Far From Home", the song with the most Euro-styled noodling, six-stringer Thomas Buchberger puts together some rather meaty riffs that will appeal to those metalheads who typically turn away from anything labeled "symphonic". His style isn't very flashy, but he nevertheless devlivers some nice leads and a number of impressive solos. While Buchberger's riffs demand attention throughout the disc, Mario Hirzinger's keys are quite powerful in their own right and really establish the varying moods present on the album. From the epic symphonics of "New Horizon" to the overall lushness of "State Of Siege", Hirzinger's contributions are everpresent but never over the top.

Frontman Georg Neuhauser has a strong voice that is often compared to that of Sonata Arctica's Tony Kakko, though Neuhauser definitely has his own style. He's helped out on Death & Legacy by a couple of female guest vocalists who each add a nice bit of variation to the overall atmosphere. Sirenia's Ailyn delivers a strong performance on "The Chevalier" and also adds some narration - in her native Spanish - on "Prayer", one of the album's brief interludes. "Changing Fate" is a ballad that benefits from contributions by Michigander Amanada Somerville (Epica, Avantasia, and many others), while Delain's Charlotte Wessels turns in a fine performance on the Gothic-styled "Serenade Of Flames".

I was surprised by the depth of Death & Legacy and pleased that Serenity chose not to emulate the flowery sound of the Scandinavian and Italian power metal scenes, instead opting for a harder Teutonic direction. With "New Horizons", the medieval melodies of "State Of Siege", the aggressive "When Canvas Starts To Burn", and the Middle Eastern flair of "Beyond Desert Sands", Death & Legacy is an album fans of powerful power metal should take note of.

Track Listing
1Set Sail To (Intro)0:30
2New Horizons6:51
3The Chevalier5:34
4Far From Home4:50
5Heavenly Mission5:24
6Prayer (Interlude)1:23
7State Of Siege6:49
8Changing Fate5:43
9When Canvas Starts To Burn4:49
10Serenade Of Flames4:57
11Youngest Of Widows4:09
12Below Eastern Skies (Interlude)1:35
13Beyond Desert Sands4:56
14To India's Shore4:36
15Lament (Interlude)0:41
16My Legacy4:46
Total Runtime1:07:33

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