Artist:  Serenity
   Title: Death & Legacy
   Label: Napalm Records
 

February and March seem to be Power and Symphonic month at Napalm Records as the label brings us the new Power Quest, the new Visions Of Atlantis album and also the third album from Austria’s Serenity.

In a genre that seems to bring out the best musicians around, this new album 'Death & Legacy’ keeps up that tradition as Georg Neuhauser, Thomas Buchberger, Mario Hirzinger, Andreas Schipflinger and new bassist Fabio D’Amore.  Who bring forth another glorious guitar fuelled slice of Symphonic Metal while taking a look at some of histories most dominant figures.  People like Christopher Columbus, Giacomo Casanova, Sir Francis Drake, Queen Elizabeth I and more are brought to life in stunning musical tales of glory and woe.

The album gets underway with the intro ‘Set Sail To’, a real tour de force to get the old Symphonic juices flowing, and I mean flowing. A swirling mix of towering keys and guitars that lays down the foundations for the opener proper ‘New Horizons’.  A barnstorming tale of British sailing legend Sir Francis Drake as he set sail in 1579 for the America’s and despite numerous storms, battles and wrong turns, he becomes the first Englishman to cross the mighty Pacific Ocean.  All this is captured so beautifully in glorious power driven metal you can almost smell the salty seas.

From one of the greatest sailors to the greatest lover of them all, Casanova.  As ‘The Chevalier’ explodes into life, with a monster intro of keyboards, drums and guitars, before Georg Neuhauser brings a massive vocal which is complimented with a stunning duet with Ailyn (Sirenia).  This is just the first of three guest female vocals that add something a little special to proceedings.

The album continues with the rampaging tales of the high seas once more with tragic story of Bartolomeu Dias, who could have been the first man to reach India by sea via Africa’s west coast and the treacherous Cape Of Good Hope.  This is bombastic sonic Symphonic Metal at it’s very best.  A rampaging guitar fest from Thomas Buchberger is backed all the way with some stunning orchestrations from the keys of Mario Hirzinger.

The tales of the Knights Templar have gone down throughout history from the Crusades to the Arthurian legend, but the last grand master of the order Jaques de Molay, on the day of his execution, thought he and the templars would be forgotten with his demise.  Little did he know the tales would become legend and ‘Heavenly Mission’ tells of his tale.  Again a monstrous slice of Symphonic story telling.  A stunning musical piece that just sweeps you along on a carpet of melodic rich power and myth.

There is a short interlude mid album with ‘Prayer’, which is just that, a prayer of a Spanish soldier’s wife as her husband sailed away with the army of Hernan Cortés to conquer Middle America, which is beautifully narrated  by Ailyn.

This is just a short interlude as it's on with the power once more with ‘State of Siege’, as this soldiers tale of the siege of Tenochtitlán where Cortés led his soldiers into a bloody battle to defeat the Aztec Empire.  This soldier just wanted to get out and return home to his wife and family.  Like the album opener proper, there is a depth of vision in the music around this track, you can almost smell the musket power and the futility of battle as one mans courage is fated against one man lust for gold.

It’s back to the high seas and the fall from grace of Sir Francis Drake in the eyes of one England’s greatest monarchs ‘Queen Elizabeth I', as 12.000 men strong and true were lost in the battle to defeat the Spanish Armada.  This haunting melody tells of him begging for a second chance from his Queen and country.  Again we see Neuhauser duet with another queen of metal Amanda Somerville on this more mellow but compelling slice of sonic metal.

History lessons would have been a lot more interesting if they’d been put to music as this album shows and the history lesson continues with the tale of German Renaissance Painter Albrecht Duerer with ‘When Canvas Starts To Burn’, who between the 15th and 16th century changed the art world.  This heavy and double kick drum filled spectacle is almost as through provoking as the mans work.  The light and colours shines through not as brush strokes but musical notes.

The third of our guest female vocals comes on ‘Serenade of Flames’ with Charlotte Wessel.  A tale of Medieval times as Heinrich Kramer, inquisitor and author of The Hammer Of Witches instructs during the witch trials, with Wessel delivering a haunting melody that will touch the very soul, as she portrays a young girl on her last night on this earth before she is put to the stake.

The tempo is picked up big style as the guitars and bass on ‘Youngest of Widows’ brings the story of the last days of Maria Stuart, who was better known as Mary Queen of Scots to life, with a real power driven attack which is led by Neuhauser who delivers one of his finest vocals of he entire album on this one,.  From the end will start the beginning 

There is a touch of Eastern promise with another short interlude ‘Below Eastern Skies’, then it's back to the power driven Symphonic Metal with ‘Beyond Desert Sands’, which tells of Marco Polo and his adventures.  Some say fantasized but as Polo states on his death bed ... All those fools want me to finally tell the truth about my journeys, but that’s what I have always done, and I haven’t nearly told half of what I have seen …” this is another rampaging slice of pure genius story telling from the Austrian’s.

But if massive orchestration are your forte then ‘To India’s Shore’ is the one for you.  This one is what the genre is all about, a huge keyboard presence is interwoven with some stunning guitar solo’s and a massive massive rhythm section, all gift wrapped in a simply stunning vocal.  Or the story behind the song that is of Columbus finally winning over his Queen as she gives the go ahead to his famous journey.

‘Lament’ is another interlude to the next track ‘My Legacy’.  Put simply it’s the words of Galileo as he finally realizes he has lost his sight ... “Oh mio Dio, perché è così buio? Non è il sorger del giorno, eppur gli augelli cantano le loro melodie? Cecità! E’ la fine! Il grande osservator del cielo è giunto in fondo alla sua vita … e la luce ha abbandonato i suoi occhi, per sempre! Che ne sarà di me …”

‘My Legacy’ is Galileo’s story told in epic guitar filled excellence, with huge bass and drum tones throughout.  Again filled with stunning keyboards, a real corker to wrap up what is a truly stunning album.  Like I said before, history never seemed so inviting and hats off to the band for bringing these tales to life in a form that is concept metal without being too concept if you know what I mean.

 Tracklisting:

1. Set Sail
2. New Horizons
3. The Chevalier
4. Far From Home
5. Heavenly Mission
6. Prayer (Interlude)
7. State Of Siege
8. Changing Fate
9. When Canvas Starts To Burn
10. Serenade Of Flames
11. Youngest Of Widows
12. Below Eastern Skies (Interlude)
13. Beyond Desert Sands
14. To India's Shore
15. Lament (Interlude)
16. My Legacy

                  

 

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