Album Reviews

Serious Black – As Daylight Breaks Review

seriousblack_cover

Released by: AFM Records

Release Date: January 20th, 2015

Genre: Power Metal/Melodic Metal

Links: http://www.seriousblack.com/

 

Line Up:

Urban Breed – Vocals

Roland Grapow – Guitars

Dominik Sebastian – Guitars

Mario Lochert – Bass

Jan Vacik – Keyboards

Thomen Stauch – Drums

 

Tracklist:

1. I Seek No Other Life

2. High and Low

3. Sealing My Fate

4. Temple of the Sun

5. Akhenaton

6. My Mystic Mind

7. Trail of Murder

8. As Daylight Breaks

9. Setting Fire to the Earth

10. Listen to the Storm

11. Older and Wiser

 

Starting some kind of super group can be very tricky, especially one featuring either current or former members of several very well established and highly regarded bands in their field, such as Helloween, Blind Guardian, Masterplan, Edenbridge, Tad Morose, etc. Needless to say, Serious Black has a lot of expectations to live up to with their debut release As Daylight Breaks. I’ve had mixed reactions to most super groups I’ve heard, but in general I tend not to like them all that much, so I didn’t expect a whole lot out of this one, even knowing it features the likes of Urban Breed and Roland Grapow. Thankfully, though, Serious Black is one such group where instead of it feeling like either a bunch of talented musicians doing their own thing so it comes off as disjointed, or a group where one member clearly takes the lead and everyone else just plays along without getting to truly shine, it feels like a group that’s already functioning well as a team, with everyone getting to put their own ideas into the music. The result is an album that does draw influences from various other bands, but manages to take these influences and put them together in such a way that it comes off sounding fresh and exciting.

Stylistically, As Daylight Breaks is a mix of melodic metal and various forms of power metal, changing from song to song. Most songs are fairly up tempo, led by Roland’s excellent guitar work, Thomen Staunch’s very impressive double bass drumming and of course Urban’s fantastic vocals. The songwriting is mostly straight-forward, emphasizing melodies and choruses over technicality, though each member is giving a chance to shine, with different tracks emphasizing different members a bit more, so while a song like “My Mystic Mind” is mostly dominated by Roland, Thomen and Urban, tracks like “High and Low”, “Sealing My Fate” and the title track allow more room for keyboardist Jan Vacik to take over. Bassist Mario Lochert and guitarist Dominik Sebastian are best known for their work with Visions of Atlantis and Edenbridge respectively, so it’s no surprise that many tracks feature orchestral backing, adding some occasional symphonic metal elements to the music. On the whole, it feels like every member contributed a lot to the album, and it feels like a group that has already been together for several years, so I certainly wouldn’t be shocked to see them make more albums together in the future.

Not much has to be said about Urban Breed at this point. He’s one of the best in the business, and once again As Daylight Breaks gives him plenty of memorable vocal melodies to work with, and he knocks it out of the park every time. He has a very smooth quality to his voice, which makes the slower passages very effective, while at the same time he can excel during the speedier portions like any great power metal singer should. If anything this album is the best I’ve heard from him in quite a long time, probably since the Bloodbound classic Nosferatu.

No time is wasted with intro tracks or long, drawn out openings. Nope, the opener “I Seek No Other Life” opens with the brief sound of a roaring guitar, drum rolls, the orchestral elements starting up, and then it charges out of the gate as one of the fastest paced tracks on the album, showing strong influences of Masterplan in particular, while also allowing Urban Breed to steal the show during the chorus. Next is the much more modern sounding “High and Low”, an ultra catchy Euro power metal track, powered by some excellent keyboard melodies. Among the faster, more power metal focused songs, my favorites are the ultra speedy “My Mystic Mind”, which gets really intense as it goes on, the excellent closer “Older and Wiser” and “Setting Fire to the Wind”, which features the most addictive chorus of the album.

On the other side of the spectrum are the slower songs. At times the album reminds me of Urban’s recent work with Trails of Murder (there’s even a slow and heavy track called “Trail of Murder”) and especially Project Arcadia’s sophomore release, with tracks like “Sealing My Fate” and “Listen to the Storm” starting off with very calm ballad-ish sections dominated by piano and vocals, before turning into something much bigger in the second half. Both those tracks are great, with the latter being one of my favorites on the album. The one true ballad on the album is the title track, which has a very cinematic feel to it, with the mellow sounding keyboards and the epic orchestral backing. I could easily picture that song being used in a movie, and for a ballad on a metal album, it’s definitely one of the better ones I’ve heard in recent years.

As Daylight Breaks is an excellent debut from a band of very talented musicians who have come together to create something fresh and exciting, and I definitely hope to hear some more from Serious Black in the future. Highly recommended for fans of the various members, as well as fans of power metal and melodic metal in general.

 

Written by Travis

Ratings    Travis    8/10

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