Saturday, December 13, 2014

Well, Who Would Want Frivolous Black?: A Review of Serious Black's As Daylight Breaks

The minute that I opened the press release one sheet for Serious Black I was excited.  The second line of the document will show why: "The line-up consists of Roland Grapow (Masterplan, ex-Helloween), Thomen Stauch (ex-Blind Guardian), Mario Lochert (ex-Visions Of Atlantis), Dominik Sebastian (Edenbridge), Jan Vacik (ex-Dreamscape) and (last but not least) the golden voice of Urban breed (ex-Tad Morose, ex-Bloodbound)."  Anyone into melodic power metal should be familiar with several of those names and I was certainly enticed to hear this new supergroup.  The album is titled As Daylight Breaks and features the collaborations of the full band who were all involved in the songwriting process.  With eleven tracks contained in As Daylight Breaks I anxiously cued it up for a spin:
We begin with "I Seek No Other Life" opening with a blistering pace in true classic power metal fashion.  The soaring vocals courtesy of Urban Breed almost add another dimension to the song.  "High and Low" is another charging composition featuring more prominence of Jan Vacik's keyboard work, some great guitar soloing, thundering bass lines and pounding drum beat.  Breed's velvet vocals overlay the soft keyboard notes at the outset of "Sealing My Fate", but it's not long before the rest of the boys join in for this slower tempo composition.  Personally I don't have much
 time for intros, so based on that the 1:14 minute instrumental "Temple of the Sun" just serves as a momentum killer and general waste of time for me.  All hope is not lost as the thundering drums of the oddly titled "Akhenaton" resonate from the speakers in an awesome track.  Some quick internet searching finds that Akhenaton may refer to the tenth pharaoh of the eighteenth dynasty.  The keyboard work on "My Mystic Mind" gives it a real Gothic metal feel at points while "Trail of Murder", sadly the shortest track at under three minutes, is my favorite of the lot.  The title track, "As Daylight Breaks", is a ballad and vehicle for the talents of Breed and Vacik, but again, not to my particular liking.   "Setting Fire to the Earth" is once again more my speed with a catchy bridge and chorus, perhaps a little more straight forward rock-like. The longest track, "Listen to the Storm", opens with some dark, ominous keyboarding but soon gives way to the rest of the all-star project in another slower tempo, rather epic sounding composition.  Things wrap up with "Older and Wiser", another classic power metal track crafted by some of the best of the genre.
Overall these masters of metal have delivered a decent melodic power metal album, with only a couple of low spots.  Fans of the genre would certainly do well to pick this one up.  Serious Black is set to rock the stages in January and February as they open for HammerFall on their upcoming European tour, wish we could get a tour like that here in Toronto!

BUY: Serious Black - As Daylight Breaks

The Meister

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