Death & Legacy
I have no idea what Austria is supposed to be famous for (except maybe ski resorts) but I like to think of it as a country that produces some fine symphonic power metal with a touch of progression. Think Edenbridge, Juvaliant and not in the least, Serenity.
Emerging in 2007 with a debut akin to Sonata Arctica in one of their greater moments, they really established a name for themselves with the follow-up. “Fallen Sanctuary” was an album full of sweeping melodies and a pervasive sense of melancholic grandeur. Ambition is said to be the enemy of success, but with the anticipated third album “Death & Legacy”, Serenity prove that saying wrong and deliver their most consistently qualitative album to date.
This is very ambitious indeed. Making a compelling concept album is a tricky art, and the band has done well to tell separate stories tied in to an overarching idea rather than just one long tale. I don’t think they’re quite ready yet for their own “Black Halo”. The structure also gives way to a lot of different characters, settings and thus song material. The ever-engulfing atmosphere shapeshifts from epic to romantic, from tragic to melancholic.
From the opening “Set Sail To…” segueing into “New Horizons”, we’re catapulted onto the bow of a 16th century explorer's ship, cruising the high seas to the blank edges of the map. It is immediately clear that Serenity is working on a larger scale here. No longer are they creating charming miniatures, but painting full-blown canvases of delight and wonder. “Far From Home” offers more of the adventurous, but is intercut with “The Chevalier”, which is the sort of dreamy romantic thing only Dark Moor can pull off equally. This back-and-forth between bombast and tenderness is woven through the entire album and gives it suitable balance.
Odd one out is the ass-kicker “When Canvas Starts To Burn”, which is suspected to have been left off one of the previous albums. With 12 full songs (on the limited edition) and 4 interludes the band may have tried a little too hard, and as a result some tracks are more memorable than others. First time around some of the melodies sound a little too similar too, although this becomes less apparent after repeated listens. Besides, when you’ve come to the end of it, it’s hard to pick a song that could’ve been kept in the freezer.
A lot has been said about all the female guest talent that is on display here, which made me wonder why Sabine Edelsbacher from countrymen Edenbridge doesn’t appear. Their guitarist Lanvall wrote and performed the instrumental “Below Eastern Skies”, so it seems like a missed opportunity. Not that her colleagues don’t deliver: Delain's Charlotte Wessels in particular takes the duet “Serenade Of Flames” to new levels of tragic ecstasy.
Serenity swim in deeper waters now, and it’s a relief to see them stay afloat. With the significant steps they have taken between albums one can only imagine where they will go next. As long as their music remains as creative and engaging as it is right now, I for one won’t worry too much.
Arno Callens' rating: 4.5 out of 5