Serenity – Fallen Sanctuary (Napalm Records)

Friday, 15th March 2013
Rating: 7/10

It’s hardly a secret who Serenity is trying emulate and that’s fine, to be honest. Knock-off bands can sometimes produce some pretty strong material and for the sake of comparison, Fallen Sanctuary is more enjoyable than Sonata Arctica’s Unia, which is the basis of our comparison.

Parlaying the poppy, uppity symphonic metal template that Tony Kakko and co. have popularized, Serenity are cut from the same cloth, falling right in line with those drama-filled choruses and saccharine arrangements that are the pillar of Sonata Arctica’s sound. Fallen Sanctuary has its fair share of swooning moments (see opener “All Lights Reversed” and “Coldness Kills”) along with some quality Euro metal moments worth savoring.

Vocalist Georg Neuhauser apes Kakko throughout this 10-track offering, oftentimes right down to the same cadence. While he does not conjure up those kooky, yet terribly infectious choruses Kakko can, he proves his worth on the speedy “To Stone She Turned” and melodically muscular “The Heartblood Symphony.”

Elsewhere, the plodding “Velatum” fails to resonate in ballad form, while the overly-pompous “Derelict” and awkward rhythms and ill-placed death growls of “Oceans of Ruby” sorta kills any momentum built by the songs placed in the middle of the album.

The rating in this could have gone a bit lower, but since most of the symphonic metal community is still reeling from Unia’s relative ineffectiveness, Fallen Sanctuary will stand firm at a solid rating of 7/10. Perhaps total emulation does count for something, eh?

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