Album Reviews

Serious Black – As Daylight Breaks

The term “supergroup” is used often to describe recording projects that involve a gathering of well-known musicians from popular bands who join together to release music under a new moniker, usually while their other bands are on hiatus. Let’s face it; in the current financial state of the music industry, the best way to have a steady income is for musicians to release as much new material as possible. The days of forming a band and making a comfortable living is basically a thing of the past. Usually, as is the case with labels such as Frontier Records, these albums are usually just recording projects with musicians being paired together with no plans on ever performing as a true band. Some of these bands release incredible material (see The Mob, Allen/Lande), while others are quite frankly, a mess (I’m looking at you Timo Tolkki’s Avalon!).

Enter AFM Records recent signing, Serious Black, which features in it’s illustrious ranks Roland Grapow (Masterplan, ex-Helloween), Thomen Stauch (ex-Blind Guardian), Mario Lochert (ex-Visions Of Atlantis), Dominik Sebastian (Edenbridge), Jan Vacik (ex-Dreamscape) and Urban breed (ex-Tad Morose, ex-Bloodbound, Trail of Murder, Project Arcadia), six of the most talented musicians from the world of the European power metal scene. According to the bands biography, this is not just another all-star project, but it is in fact a real band. To prove this point, Serious Black has been tapped as the support band on Hammerfall’s upcoming European tour.

The music on Serious Black’s As Daylight Breaks is what you would expect from musicians of this caliber, heavy, energetic, and melodic power metal in the vein of MasterPlan, Avantasia, and Urban breed’s Trail of Murder. As expected, Grapow’s neo-classical power metal guitar solos are as memorable as ever throughout the eleven songs featured. For any band, finding the right vocalist is imperative to giving the group an identity for fans to connect with. In this regard, Serious Black could not have chosen a better frontman than Urban breed, whose melodic sensibilities and powerful tone fit the music perfectly.

The album starts off with the up-tempo, ultra-melodic, and anthemic power of I Seek No Other Life. Vocalist Urban breed shines here, as anyone who is familiar with his vast musical resume would expect. High and Low begins with Vacik’s keys and orchestration and Stauch’s machine gun double bass drumming and a chugging heavy guitar rhythm, breed’s vocals bring the melody along with soaring harmony vocals during the chorus. A somber solitary piano and breed’s soft vocal starts off Sealing My Fate, but the song quickly picks up the tempo with some fine drumwork and exquisite lead and harmony guitar as well.

A Middle-Eastern flair in the keyboard orchestration permeates the intro of Temples of the Sun and leads into the next song titled Akhenaton. The verses of which are reminiscent of Kamelot’s Nights of Arabia. The progressive side of the band is revealed in the time changes of My Mystic Mind, a speedy power metal barn burner of a song that features killer drum work from Stauch and shows breed’s upper register is in fine form. The mid-tempo metal of Trail of Murder (coincidently the name of Urban’s other band!) is a powerful song with crushing riffs and breed’s trademark soaring vocals.

The album slows down on the epic, bombastic, and glorious title track, a ballad filled with power chords, emotive vocals, and melodic string orchestrations. The metal comes back on the straightforward fast and scorching rocker Setting Fire To The Earth. A crack of thunder sets the ominous tone on the majestic orchestration of Listen To The Storm. Grapow’s leads are exceptional and memorable fitting the songs overall theme and melody to perfection.

The albums closer, Older and Wiser is a slab of classy old school power metal anthem with breed’s vocals taking a more sinister and aggressive tone as the harmony guitar leads, heavy riffs, and double bass drums leave a path of destruction in their wake to conclude the album. If As Daylight Breaks is any indication, 2015 is going to be a fantastic year for melodic power metal.

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