In this day and age, not many metal bands can keep up a grueling tour schedule and find the time to release three albums in three consecutive years, but melodic power metal band Serious Black is back to defy the odds with their latest offering titled Magic, the bands first concept album. Magic is also the second album featuring the now stable line-up of Urban breed (vocals), Bob Katsionis (guitars), Dominik Sebastian (guitars), Mario Lochert (bass), Jan Vacik (keyboards & orchestra) and Alex Holzwarth (drums & percussion). The album also features songwriting and performing contributions from keyboardist Jonah Weingarten of Pyramaze.
Magic is a supernatural tale of the mysterious main character, Mr. Nightmist and his quest to rid a small town of a witch’s curse, and eventually breaking the curse and achieving near immortality. The album is full of the melodic, hard-edged, classy, modern power metal that Serious Black has become known for, starting with the grandiose intro With A Tip Of The Hat, where the character of Mr. Nightmist welcomes the listener to the world of Magic and the tale begins.
Following the intro, a pair of fast-paced power metal anthems, Binary Magic and Burn Witches Burn, feature chugging guitars, hard-hitting drums, melodic harmony vocals and vocalist breed’s trademark pipes.
Lone Gunmen Rule is another up-tempo hard rocker with a killer guitar riff, soaring lead and harmony vocals. The guitar work of Katsionis and Sebastian is certainly a highlight of Magic. Now You’ll Never Know is a more mid-tempo AOR-tinged melodic rock song with an emphasis on the keyboards and vocal melodies while still keeping the hard-edged twin guitar attack.
The faster-paced power metal returns on I Can Do Magic, with its rapid-fire double bass drum attack, harmony lead guitars, and breed’s emotive and fiery vocals leading the way. Serious Black Magic has an eerie almost techno intro that is reminiscent of Rob Zombie (at least to these ears), but have no fear power metal faithful, the chugging guitar rhythms and melodic keyboards dominate this slower paced epic dark power metal song.
The album slows down on Skeletons On Parade, which begins with a clean guitar and majestic heavy power chord intro and after a slow start really picks up the pace and delivers an amazing vocal performance from breed.
Mr. Nightmist, a song titled after the albums main character, is highlighted with some pristine harmony vocals, which are reminiscent of classic Texas-based band Galactic Cowboys. The Witch Of Caldwell Town is without a doubt the albums heaviest moment (and my personal favorite on the album) with a breakneck pace thanks to Holzwarth’s quick feet and frienized twin guitar/keyboard attack.
The bands penchant for writing a killer hook is evident on True Love Is Blind and Just Kill Me, two tracks with powerful melodic vocal lines, an emphasis on keyboards, and AOR songwriting sensibilities. Newfound Freedom is a classic power metal track with uplifting melodies, soaring vocals, and a fist-pumping keyboard infused melody.
One Final Song ends the album on a theatrical symphonic note, similar to bands such as Kamelot and classic Savatage, with its use of melancholy piano, with its passages and string orchestrations, and choir vocals reminiscent of classic Queen. Breed’s performance is a highlight here, ending the album on an emotional and powerful note.
After last years excellent Mirrorworld, Serious Black has once again topped itself with Magic, and created a memorable and classic sounding melodic power metal gem.