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Brutally underrated - Pt. 1 - 90%

EyesOfGlass, September 9th, 2015

Serenadium was one of the countless death metal gems buried by the sands of time, and it didn’t help either that the debut album from these Danes was released back in 1996, when death metal was starting to count the cost of its saturation. Nevertheless, Serenadium is a quite unique and flawlessly executed slab of death metal that proves that even though the genre’s golden days were long gone, there were still bands that had something to say.

Serenadium prides itself in its variant of brutal death metal, clearly showing influences from American titans such as Suffocation, but at the same time portraying a rather less chaotic structure in its instrumentation. Part of this can be attributed to Jacob Olsen’s drumming, which is almost devoid of blast beats and techniques of the sort, employing most of the time more straightforward and thrashier rhythms, delivering the goods with his classic yet skillful performance and proving therefore that heavier doesn’t always mean better.

The guitar work on the other hand, is one of Serenadium’s main strengths, displaying a wide array of technical riffs, tremolo barrages and chugging rhythms. Opener ''Tranquil Seizure'' exemplifies this in the best possible way, showcasing trem riffs that could’ve appeared on any of Incantation’s first albums, a pure Suffocation-worship breakdown half song in and exceptionally well-executed thrashier sections, and still, Iniquity succeeds in sounding like a cohesive unit despite the large amount of influences that can be spotted. Lars Friis’ solos also manage to stand out from most 90’s death metal leads thanks to his not-so-chaotic approach and melodic playing, which contrasts perfectly well with the most brutal and aggressive side of the band, with songs like the title track or the aforementioned ''Tranquil Seizure'' as clear highlights.

However, what gives Serenadium its characteristic obscure aura are subtle keyboard passages accompanied by trudging paces and Petrowsky’s deep grunts, as you can hear at the beginning of ''Tranquil Seizure'' or ''Retorn''. However, ''Prophecy of the Dying Watcher'' is the best example. Approximately at the 1:10 minute mark, a cello comes in, backed up by some ambience keyboards on the background and plodding riffs recreating a very eerie and mysterious atmosphere that just takes the cake. The feeling of uneasiness and fright conveyed by these few and subtle passages gives the album its unique atmosphere and one of its defining features.

Iniquity proves that originality doesn’t always imply creating something new. Rather, these guys took what already was around at the time and refined it to create a very interesting sound. Serenadium is probably Iniquity’s crowning achievement to date and it demonstrates how innovative and creative they can be. Certainly one of the best death metal gems to be found, combining both sheer aggression and musical talent.

Excellent brutal and unique death metal - 96%

burntblack, February 22nd, 2006

I find it hard to believe that no one has thought this release worthy of a review. Iniquity is one of the pioneers of the modern brutal death metal scene, and this release in particular is worthy of a place in death metal history. It's true that they have a distinctly European sound; I don't think anyone would mistake this for U.S. styled dm, it has a very Scandinavian sound to it. They are like Séance in that every little nuance of the music is designed for maximum brutality.

The opening track, "Tranquil Seizure" lulls the listener at first into thinking this will be a slow melodic death, or even doom metal experience, with use of synthesizers and super slow power chord changes, only to slam into high gear after 1:30, and they never look back. The guitar tone is slightly reminiscent of "Clandestine" era Entombed, but they are far more inventive in their song structures and tempo changes. It is obvious that these guys can just flat out play the shit out of their instruments. The vocals are beautifully low and contain a feeling of real menace. "Tranquil Seizure" is 6:20 of amazing guitar work and super tight drums and the entire rhythm section. The vocals are perfect in my opinion, very low and guttural, but never gurgled or burped. The guitarist is fond of using forced harmonics, and does it very well, never coming close to sounding clichéd.

The next song, "Prophecy Of The Dying Watcher" kicks up the level of brutality a couple of notches, with an unbelievably heavy and fast main riff that is constantly varied by creative guitar fills and drumming that pummels the speakers with the super bass-y and full ranged production. That is one thing about this album, it is produced louder and with a huge bass wallop that can actually rupture speaker cones if you have it in a CD changer with other more normally produced albums. If the average level of a CD is 0db, this one punches in at about 6db. That's a doubling of output, and the bass drums and bass guitar are WAY out there in the mix. I almost cracked the speakers in my car with this release.

Every song is totally A+ on this CD; there are no weak songs, no boring parts of songs -etc.. If I had to pick my favorite track off this monster, it'd be "Spectral Scent"- track 4. It starts with a off count drum riff that is quickly kicked in the teeth by the rest of the band. It is very hard to try to describe this music, like trying to describe what it would feel like to watch a locomotive fall out of the sky and land on top of a sky-scraper and bring the whole thing down, it just sort of sucks the air out of my lungs and leaves me shaking and exhilarated.

Fair enough to say this whole release is full of absolutely killer riffs, great low gravelly vocals that also remind me of Séance, killer drum work that is constantly changing time from odd meter count lines to fast blast beats, but always varying the backbone of the songs so that it feels like it is constantly a new section of the song, but the rest of the band ties it together so it doesn't just sound like unstructured jamming.

This is definitely Iniquity's greatest album, I'd say, and that is saying a lot. This CD sounds like a machine that chews up ANYTHING that is thrown into it, but still maintains a brutal subtlety that remind me how innovative and creative this band is. I could hardly recommend any release more than this one. A real masterpiece of death metal brutality and real talent.