Serenity – The Last Knight (Napalm Records)Monday, 3rd February 2020
Continuing a look back to their roots of their melodic power/symphonic metal style, Austria’s Serenity place emphasis on bold hooks from both the musical and vocal horizons for their seventh studio album The Last Knight. The stories for this record once again historical in context – covering the life of Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I, who reigned from 1508 until his death in 1519, and never officially crowned Emperor by the Pope. What’s always intriguing is the quartet’s outlook on delivering a diverse set of songs from multiple angles while keeping catchy riffs, harmonies, and melodies at the forefront, ensuring instant audience accessibility even through initial exposure to the material.
The main uplifting musical/vocal components to “Set the World on Fire” make it an immediate standout, its arena-like riffs and rich, choir-oriented chorus sure to be a hit with the Serenity faithful – including gritty guest singing support from Herbie Langhans. The guitar tone often from Christian Hermsdörfer touches a lower-tuned, semi-extreme nature – giving songs like “Keeper of the Knights” and “Down to Hell” that extra angst and burst of drive that is exhilarating against the cultural themes and overarching powerful atmosphere. When the band needs to take things down to serene measures, the piano and orchestral elements allow a ballad like “My Farewell” to captivate in that theatrical sense, the band smartly placing choir-laden background nuances to open up Georg Neuhauser into all dimensions of his rich lower to upper register as necessary for his voice. And when the band wishes to get a little more modern/groove-pulsating for the rhythms and swinging tempos, look no further than “Souls and Sins” for another possible future fan favorite, the song taking on aspects of Nevermore and Evergrey as a circular keyboard passage adds that extra aural aspect to latch upon.
Understanding the band’s versatility and ability to be heavy, powerful, speedy one moment and then mid-tempo and melodic the next, The Last Knight has many worthwhile characteristics to appeal to those that miss the glory years of early Roy Khan-led Kamelot plus the aforementioned Evergrey/Nevermore angles. A worthy successor to Lionheart, Serenity remains a steady, reliable force in the European symphonic/power/progressive metal scene.