Serious Black – Mirrorworld (AFM Records)Thursday, 15th September 2016
Hot on the heels of an impressive debut album for As Daylight Breaks that gained proper press praise and consumer appreciation – plus tours and shows with Hammerfall, Gamma Ray, and Kamelot across Europe last year- we have a relatively quick follow up for the modern age from Serious Black in Mirrorworld. Even as two members left in the interim for health/personal reasons (exit Roland Grapow and Thomen Stauch), their replacements are no slouches in the power metal community: Firewind/Outloud guitarist Bob Katsionis and Rhapsody (Of Fire) drummer Alex Holzwarth, making this nine song effort bursting in gracefully executed ideas and confidence.
The best European power metal has distinct qualities that put a premium on proper hook lines and melodies while always working from a mindset of whatever serves the song best – then let the musical technique grow outward as a result. The flashy keyboard and guitar instrumental break for instance during “You’re Not Alone” concludes with a harmonic strain that mesmerizes in its hypnotic yet simple note choices, while the follow up title cut has a lot of Deep Purple-oriented syncopation that feels equally intoxicating, Alex’s double bass projecting some Latin-like textures as Urban Breed’s majestic vocal delivery puts him in rarified air for not just power metal but the genre in general (the oh-backgrounds leave me humming for days).
Having multiple songwriters at their disposal ensures a diverse album that won’t fatigue your brain and body as the high energy material like first single “As Long As I’m Alive (Tad Morose followers will go bonkers over this) and exotically pulsating “Castor Skies” gives way to the more Rainbow/Dio-ish strains of “Heartbroken Soul” where bassist Mario Lochert possibly pays homage to Jimmy Bain a la “Holy Diver” and “State of My Despair” that has a comfortable, latter day Helloween appeal. The purple hues and water reflection make the cover ideal for supporters to wear proudly, and at a paltry 36-minutes and change, it’s a case of ‘all killer/no filler’ here.
Fresh off a triumphant US debut at ProgPower, plus headlining shows in mainland Europe ready to roll – Mirrorworld proves Serious Black is a serious, high caliber act keeping melodic power metal alive and well in the marketplace.