Austrian symphonic power metal stalwarts Serenity have returned with their 5th album Codex Atlanticus, an album filled with storytelling about art and science. The main theme this time around is Leonardo Da Vinci, as well as conspiracy theories, The Illuminati and and compositional mastermind and lead vocalist Georg Neuhauser creates a movie score-ish orchestral backdrop combined with heavy riffs and gorgeous melodies.
Since the last Serenity album War of Ages in 2013, there have been many changes in the Serenity camp. Lead guitarist Thomas Buchberger (replaced by Chris Hermsdörfer) and co-vocalist Clementine Delauney have since left te band for personal and professional reasons, although the splits were amicable and the band and its former members remain on good terms. The other change that is evident on Codex Atlanticus as opposed to War of Ages is that the songs sound a bit more stripped down and raw. Bassist Fabio D’Amore lends his lead vocal talents on the heavy riffs of Sprouts of Terror, a straight out heavy metal composition with elements of thrash, that shows Serenity can rock out with the best of them. D’Amore also provides his lead vocals on the more Serenity traditional and grandiose Spirit In The Flesh, one of the more memorable songs on the album where D’Amore trades lead vocals with Neuhauser with fluidity and power.
The album begins with the title track, a symphonic instrumental with lush melodies and a musical soundscape worthy of any big budget Hollywood movie. The next song is Follow Me, a traditional majestic Serenity track with heavy riffs and beautiful vocal melodies and harmonies. This song will please long time fans of the band, showing the band firing on all cylinders.
Iniquity is a slower mid-tempo bombastic orchestral song with huge arrangements and an epic score and a massive wall of riffs courtesy of Hermsdörfer. Neuhauser’s voice is charismatic and warm as ever, telling a story as only he can.
Reason is a heavy symphonic power metal track with chugging guitars, speedy drum work, and tons of melody, this is a song that fans of Serenity have come to expect, a soaring chorus and Neuhauser’s vocals leading the way.
On My Final Chapter, the band adds a folk-metal element to the symphonic arrangement. This track is a slower ballad, Neuhauser providing an emotional and powerful performance here and Hermsdörfer adds a beautifully done guitar solo built around the main melody.
When listening to the next song, Caught In A Myth, the main melody and song structure remind me so much of The Haunting from Kamelot, I can’t get the similarities out of my head. There are of course drastic differences in the two songs but its something that I can’t seem to let go of, even though the song does stand on its own as a symphonic mid-tempo track.
Fate of Light is a heavy and melodic power metal song with lots of heavy riffs and soaring vocal melodies. The guitar work of Hermsdörfer is on full display as he proves he is a worthy successor to Buchberger.
The Perfect Woman is an amazing amalgamation of different genres from theatrical rock opera similar to Meatloaf and classic Queen. Guest vocalist, the amazing Amanda Somerville adds her gorgeous song to this song, an ode to Da Vinci. Somerville and Neuhauser’s vocals blend together seamlessly for a beautiful addition to the album.
The albums closing moment, The Order is another bombastic symphonic gem with a heavy riff and lush orchestral melodies and a huge score behind it. The song is everything a fan of symphonic power metal could love. It ebbs and flows with emotion and power. The chorus stands out as the best on the album with a huge catchy vocal melody, my vote for the best song on the album.
Is Codex Atlanticus a perfect Serenity album? Not in this reviewers opinion. It doesn’t have the standout tracks that War of Ages and Death & Legacy have. It took numerous spins of this album to really get into it. Perhaps it’s the change in songwriting? But no matter, fans of Serenity will enjoy this offering as it has grown on me over time . I would recommend this for all fans of symphonic power metal.