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Making another big symphonic stride - 85%

TrooperOfSteel, May 7th, 2012

Serenity first caught my eye (or should it be ears?) back in 2008 when I happened to review their 2nd full-length release entitled ‘Fallen Sanctuary’. As melodic/symphonic power metal bands go, Serenity or one of those who are really up and coming, clawing their way towards the top and riding the wave of recent success. It’s obvious to say that ‘Fallen Sanctuary’ left me quite impressed. 3 years later in 2011, the Austrian 5-piece have returned for their all important 3rd album; called ‘Death & Legacy’.

As it was with the second CD, Edenbridge guitarist Lanvall has again lent his talents of the recording stage, including the choir arrangements and recordings, lead vocal recordings and also writing and performing the instrumental track “Below Eastern Skies”, which appears on the album. ‘Death & Legacy’ also has some guest vocalists to help out, which include Sirenia vocalist Ailyn, Delain vocalist Charlotte Wessels and lastly Amanda Somerville (Kiske/Somerville). Since the second album ‘Fallen Sanctuary’, there has been one line-up change within the band, with bassist Simon Holzknecht leaving and replaced by Fabio D’Amore (Pathosray/ex-Fairyland).

Serenity have slowly but carefully and confidently tweaked and evolved their sound from album to album, beginning with a more prog/power style on the debut, to a melodic power style with symphonic elements. ‘Death & Legacy’ is another step in the band’s evolution and can be considered symphonic melodic power metal. Much like the 2nd CD, this one can again be compared to other bands such as Sonata Arctica, Nightwish, Kamelot, Secret Sphere, Axxis and Angra.

Serenity have also improved with every album, showing more and more promise and maturity with their experience and song-writing capabilities. As a result ‘Death & Legacy’ is a very solid symphonic power metal release, full of epic and atmospheric “movie-score” type passages, immense passion and emotion; and of course excellent guitar and drum work. Vocalist Georg Neuhauser is quite a talented singer, who also sounds a lot like Tony Kakko (Sonata Arctica) and has a broad range and wonderful delivery particularly when hitting the high notes.

Lyrically, ‘Death & Legacy’ takes the listener on a journey through the ages, introducing us to famous figureheads of history, including Christopher Columbus, Marco Polo, Casanova, Sir Francis Drake and Queen Elizabeth I to name a few. It’s a pretty long album too, with 16 tracks (one intro and three instrumental interludes) and clocking in at just under 70 minutes. Ailyn from Sirenia performs co-vocals on the memorable and melodic semi-ballad “The Chevalier”, while Charlotte Wessels from Delain performs on the well-written, catchy and impressive “Serenade of Flames”. The final guest vocalist, Amanda Somerville performs on the emotional acoustic ballad “Changing Fate”, and I must add that all three guest vocalists did a great job with their songs.

Aside from “Serenade of Flames”, which is one of the better tracks on the CD, other songs to be labelled kick ass worthy include the heavy, symphonic and epic “When Canvas Starts to Burn”, the straight forward but memorable and effective “My Legacy”, and the melodic and gothic rock tinged “To India’s Shores”. The mighty opening track “New Horizons” is another top-notch song, heavily symphonic and containing a fury of crunchy guitar riffs and double bass pummelling; while “Far From Home” is another catchy and bombastic winner, one of the best actually, with a glorious guitar solo in the middle to seal the deal. Without wanting to name every track (and I wish I could), rounding out the list of the better tracks on the album is the catchy and melodic mid-paced “Heavenly Mission”.

Overall I am surprised and very impressed by the brilliant standard of song-writing from the collective group of Thomas Buchberger (guitarist), Mario Hirzinger (keyboardist) & Georg Neuhauser. The previous album’s song-writing was also very good, so I never expected it to be even better on this release. While the style isn’t new, it is however quite refreshing as the band have upped the ante on the symphonic side of things. The tracks are so bold, memorable and epic; they stay in your head long after the CD has stopped spinning. It goes without saying that ‘Death & Legacy’ IMO is a superior and consistent symphonic power metal album, which could be Serenity’s best thus far (very level pegging with ‘Fallen Sanctuary’). If the abovementioned bands mentioned in comparison to Serenity appeal to you, then ‘Death & Legacy’ should definitely be something worth tracking down.

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