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New horizons for Serenity - 89%

MetalGuard, September 5th, 2012

So here it is, the erstwhile opus magnum of Austrian symphonic metallers Serenity. I've been keeping a close eye on this band since their debut album "Words Untold & Dreams Unlived", and have been amazed by their evolution. Their debut offering was already a really strong melodic metal record with a lot of progressive elements, and in later works they've shifted gear a little towards a more symphonic and orchestral approach with definite resemblances to bands like Kamelot, Epica, Delain or Nightwish. This change was already visible on their second album "Fallen Sanctuary", but becomes even more apparent with their third outing "Death & Legacy".

Alright, so they drew almost shamelessly inspiration from early Kamelot covers like "Siege Perilous" and "Fourth Legacy" for the cover artwork, and the musical parallels to Kamelot are also definitely there - but thankfully, Serenity still managed to develop a sound and style of their own. On "Death & Legacy" they finally outdo themselves, and deliver no less than sixteen(!) tracks (albeit with a few more or less enticing musical interludes), an impressive cast of guest musicians and last but not least a large amount of simply great melodic metal.

After an atmospheric intro, "New Horizons" opens the album with cannonfire and a huge chorus, and we are immediately drawn into a journey through the past that visits historical personalities on the eve of their deaths. There is a song about Sir Francis Drake, "Changing Fate", where lead singer Georg Neuhauser is accompanied by none other than the lovely and always great Amanda Somerville; there is a song about the inquisition in "Serenade of Flames" where Delain's own Charlotte Wessels has a cameo, and Giacomo Casanova tells us his tale in "The Chevalier", which features a guest performance by the lovely Ailyn of Sirenia. But in truth, Serenity don't even need all those classy guest performances; the song material on "Death & Legacy" is strong enough by and of itself, and the album is enjoyable all the way through.

However, after a few spins I came to notice that the album sounds a little overproduced, especially in terms of the bulging orchestral arrangements that sometimes threaten to drown the rest of the band's performances, and also with regard to Georg Neuhauser's vocals, which are naturally very soft and laid back, and not really the vocals of a classic "power shouter". Still, his style of singing works quite well for the more lyrical type of music Serenity decide to present, and I can find little fault in that.

Austria is not exactly known for its abundance in melodic metal bands, so Serenity is a most welcome gift from the small country surrounded by the Alps. Fans of melodic metal with a lot of symphonic elements, especially those who enjoy the work of Kamelot, Sonata Arctica or Delain should definitely give "Death & Legacy" a few spins. It's the Austrians' best album thus far, and one of the melodic metal highlights of 2011.