Serenity – Lionheart (Napalm)Tuesday, 31st October 2017
Today’s metal landscape includes changing priorities and shifting lineups – rare is the day that one band makes it a decade plus without the wear and tear that album/tour cycles take. For power symphonic metal unit Serenity, the loss of three members in 2012-2015 meant paring down where the band would go stylistically – adopting a back to roots approach for their last full-length Codex Atlanticus that went over very well critically beyond their fervent following. Making it all the more important to come out swinging again for the sixth studio sojourn, as Lionheart takes another historical concept theme (Richard the Lionheart) to further cement the current, focused outlook in these thirteen tracks that keep a balance between the orchestral/symphonic elements and the proper power metal ethics.
Resplendent intro “Deus Lo Vult” sets the stage for “United”, one of many call to arms-oriented arrangements that features a crunchier/heavier overtone in spots from guitarist Christian Hermsdörfer while Georg Neuhauser tackles the vocals in expert confidence, striding valiantly into the storyline with character and grace. Giving the drumming and guitars more punch to contrast against the keyboard/symphonic parts proves Serenity feel engaged in taking their music into dynamic/modern textures – most evident in “Hero” – while the band also rear back into those darker, medieval/majestic power riffing combinations that certainly bring up classic Kamelot comparisons for “Eternal Victory” and the title track. Exotic instrumentation, background chanting and supplemental keyboard strains makes “The Fortress (Of Blood and Sand)” a second half standout, the mid-tempo feel and churning atmosphere working hand in hand with the lyrical vision of standing at the walls of Jerusalem, Christian presenting a thoughtful, brief lead break.
Looking at the eleven songs in the main (excluding the intro and “King’s Landing” instrumental midway through that is a piano extension of said intro), these musicians place careful emphasis on getting these songs out without excess, not an easy process when most of these songs sit around four and a half minutes. Add in cover art that even Richard would be proud of if he was still alive and you have the makings of Serenity anno 2017 churning out power metal that is symphonic without being overly bombastic – pushing the band to headlining status.