Serenity - Fallen sanctuary 4/5

Reviewed: 10-10-08





Tracklist:

1. All lights reversed
2. Russ of coming ages
3. Coldness kills
4. To stone she turned
5. Fairytales
6. The heartblood symphony
7. Velatum
8. Derelict
9. Sheltered (By the obscure)
10. Oceans of ruby


Austria is rarely mentioned when talking about metal bands, and the only one which comes to mind is symphonic power metal band, Edenbridge. But now, claiming their stake of the big metal pie is melodic power metal band, Serenity.

Serenity was formed in 2001 and released 3 demos in 2002, 2003 and 2005. Napalm Records then picked up this 5-piece band soon after, and in 2007 Serenity released their debut full-length CD, entitled ‘Words untold & dreams unlived’. Their music was primarily progressive power metal with symphonic elements, and the CD seemed quite promising and received positive reviews. Now just 16 months after their debut, Serenity have released their 2nd CD, called ‘Fallen sanctuary’. Already receiving fantastic reviews (which they have slapped on the front page of their website), ‘Fallen sanctuary’ is indeed a top metal release.

With a new CD came a new band logo. And usually when a band changes their logo, they often (slightly) change their musical direction too. This is the case for Serenity, who with ‘Fallen sanctuary’, have become less progressive and more melodic; while the symphonic elements still remain. Going by the great reviews so far for this release, and my own listening experience, their move was a good one.

Helping the band with their 2nd CD, are fellow countryman, Langvall from Edenbridge, who helped with vocal arrangements and recordings; while Everon’s Oliver Phillips did a superb job with the orchestration. Jacob Hansen (Hatesphere, Aborted) lent his talents with the mixing. Finally, Elis vocalist, Sandra Schleret shared vocal duties on the track “Fairytales”.

Serenity’s strong points on ‘Fallen sanctuary’ are definitely the keyboards, orchestration and vocals, which drive every track. That’s not to say that the guitars are weak, but it does feel that they take a secondary role on the CD. There are plenty of catchy hooks, riffs, melodies and solos throughout. With more uptempo tracks (where the band excels) than slower, ballad-esk tracks, you can draw comparisons to bands like Sonata Arctica, Evergrey, Angra, Secret Sphere, Nightwish and Kamelot.

Serenity’s vocalist, Georg Neuhauser is a fantastic singer with great range, power and delivery. His performance on this CD is outstanding; very emotional and very melodic, whether it be an uptempo track or a slower midtempo one. Keyboardist, Mario Hirzinger also does a brilliant job here, his creative keys play an important part in the compositions and song structures. Entangled beautifully with Thomas Buchberger’s guitars, the end result feels so graceful, enchanting and epic at the best of times.

Some standout tracks on ‘Fallen sanctuary’ include “Coldness kills”, “Rust of coming ages”, “To stone she turned”, “All lights reversed” and “Sheltered (By the obscure)”. Overall, there are no real weak tracks on this CD, however I found the last track, “Oceans of ruby” to be quite odd and not flowing with the rest of the CD. The ballad “Fairytales” was also hit and miss in my eyes and is further proof that Serenity’s strength lies in their more uptempo tracks.

This CD was certainly a big surprise to me and I can see why it has been given such grand reviews so far. I can see fans of not only melodic metal enjoying this, but also fans of melodic progressive metal and symphonic metal. Serenity have definitely found their core sound with ‘Fallen sanctuary’ and should further progress with it for their all-important 3rd CD. Highly recommended.



SEAN




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