Serenity – Death & Legacy (Napalm Records)

Wednesday, 20th March 2013
Rating: 6.5/10

Still in the wheelhouse of Sonata Arctica’s early 00’s work, Serenity are making gradual strides toward establishing some semblance of an identity, although there are more than a few Tony Kakko-worshipping moments on Death & Legacy. Perhaps in an effort to work around this, the Germans have embellished the album with a host of guest singers and fluffy ballads. That will show ‘em!

Like its 2008 predecessor, Fallen SanctuaryDeath & Legacy, employs the speedy, hook-happy power metal template once so prevalent amongst Finnishbands like SA, Stratovarius, and Thunderstone. This time out, there’s a lot more pomp and frills, especially on the aforementioned ballads like “Changing of Fate,” which has a guest appearance from renowned vocalist Amanda Somerville, while Sirenia’s Ailyn gets airtime on both “The Chevalier” and “Prayer.”

Credit Serenity with being able to find that spacious realm where power metal can be hooky without being annoying, something that is readily apparent on “New Horizons” and “When Canvas Starts to Burn.” As the album progresses (it’s a towering 16 tracks long, by the way), the band tries to not be weighted down with their overt symphonic tendencies, but songs like “Beyond Desert Sands” and “My Legacy” ultimately fall short because singer Georg Neuhauser can’t sound like anyone but Kakko. It’s a deal-breaker.

Death & Legacy is reminiscent of a time in power metal (read: early 00’s…again) where everything had to be over-the-top and grandiose. Thankfully, the sound crested and a real movement never took form. For bands like Serenity, whipping up a batch of hummable and pompous songs has never been the problem; it boils down to the fact they’re just too close to a band that has rubbed people wrong on symphonic power metal on more than one occasion. Guilt by emulation.

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