Album Reviews

Serious Black – Vengeance is Mine Review

Label: AFM Records

Release Date: February 25th, 2022

Genre: Power Metal

Links: https://www.serious-black.com/

 

Line Up:

Nikola Mijic – Vocals

Dominik Sebastian – Guitars

Mario Lochert – Bass

Ramy Ali – Drums

 

Tracklist:

1. Rock With Us Tonight

2. Out of the Ashes

3. Fallen Hero

4. Senso della vita

5. Ray of Light

6. Soul Divider

7. Tonight I’m Ready to Fight

8. Just for You

9. Soldiers of Eternal Light

10. The Story

11. Queen of Lies

12. Album of Our Life

13. Alea Iacta Est

 

Ever since they released their debut back in 2015, I’ve always thought international power metal band Serious Black had the potential to become a major player within their genre, and yet they haven’t fully managed to get there over the years. I enjoyed As Daylight Breaks quite a bit, even if it didn’t feel overly unique or special, and I was hoping the band could build on it to make better albums in the future. Sadly, I was consistently disappointed by their next few releases, with 2017’s Magic, in particular, being easily my least favorite of theirs. They did get back into the form with the darker, heavier Suite 226, but I still found that album wasn’t quite on the level of their debut, let alone living up to the band’s full potential. So, with their upcoming fifth full-length release Vengeance is Mine coming along, I wasn’t exactly expecting a masterpiece, but I have ended up being very pleasantly surprised, as the band has released easily their most addictive, consistently excellent album to date!

In terms of the overall musical direction, very little has changed with Serious Black. While Suite 226 felt like somewhat of an oddball, going for a much more aggressive sound, Vengeance is Mine feels like a return to the band’s usual mix of melodic, up-tempo power metal and lighter, slower paced melodic metal. There’s a bit more energy to a lot of the tracks, though, and when the riffs hit hard, they really hit hard, but as far as the overall style, this is still very much in line with past albums. It’s almost impossible to explain exactly why this album works for me so much more than their past albums, but I think the key is the songwriting feels so much more consistent than ever before. They’ve always had at least a few songs I’ve loved on each album, but this time around I love the entire album, with everything from speedier power metal tracks like “Out of the Ashes”, to more melodic material like “Fallen Hero”, and the heartfelt ballad “The Story”, all being fantastic.

One slight difference with this album is a slightly increased focus on guitar work, whether it’s heavy riffs or more melodic leads, the guitar tends to lead the way more often than not, while keyboards are still there and sound excellent, but they aren’t very prominent on most tracks, likely because the band doesn’t have a dedicated keyboardist on this album, instead of using Firewind’s Bob Katsionis as a session member. Otherwise, though, this is very much what fans would expect, with the same high-quality production as always, the same overall style, and excellent performances across the board. I feel the symphonic elements have been toned down slightly, only being noticeable on a couple of tracks, while hard rock elements are very noticeable throughout. As always, though, power metal and melodic metal are the main focuses here, and it feels like the band has taken everything they’ve done on past albums and built on it to help make easily their best album to date.

Now, there is one important change that needs to be mentioned, that being the departure of vocalist Urban Breed. I was initially worried about how that would affect the band, since Breed is a fantastic vocalist, with a very distinct voice, so replacing him was always going to be tough. Somehow, though, the band was more than up to the challenge, enlisting the help of Eden’s Curse vocalist Nikola Mijic. I thought he sounded great on the last couple Eden’s Curse albums, but Vengeance is Mine has to be easily the best I’ve heard from him, as his voice sounds more intense and animated than ever, sometimes sounding like a more powerful version of Edguy’s Tobias Sammet, but he also does an amazing job of toning it down and going for a more subdued performance when needed. He brings a ton of energy and passion to the table, fits in perfectly with the band, and helps elevate some already excellent tracks.
And that brings us to the songwriting, which is excellent across the board. While I’ve always enjoyed at least a few tracks on each previous Serious Black album, their debut was the only one that came close to consistently impressing me. Well, that has changed in a big way with Vengeance is Mine, where I love every single track. I won’t go into full detail on every song, since there’s a whopping 13 of them, but I will quickly go through some of my favorites. The opening track “Rock With Us Tonight” does an excellent job of starting things off, striking a nice mix between power metal tempos, a big catchy chorus, and a sort of hard rock vibe with its more subdued verses and riffs. It’s a very fun opening track, which does a nice job of showcasing Miji?’s vocals, while also having some nice riffs and a great guitar solo in the second half.

My favorite track on the album is “Out of the Ashes”, one of the faster-paced tracks on the album, as well as the most epic, with very nice use of symphonic elements throughout the verses. It moves at a fast pace and has a classic power metal feel to it, except with a bit of an edge to the riffs, as well as some F-Bombs during the verses, which initially threw me off, but I eventually got used to them. The chorus is the highlight, though, as it’s super melodic, catchy, and does a fantastic job of utilizing Miji?’s voice, as well as having a nice use of keyboards and symphonic elements, to give it a more epic feel than most other tracks on the album.

Staying on the heavier side of things, “Tonight I’m Ready to Fight” is another instant favorite, moving at a more subdued pace, but coming in with some heavy riffs and very fun, somewhat playful keyboards that help give it an extra dose of energy. The chorus is especially intense and has a very powerful vocal performance, enhanced by some great lyrics. It’s one of my favorite tracks on the album. Closing out the album is another heavy hitter, “Alea Iacta Est”, which moves at a pretty fast pace, and has a nice mix of some very melodic guitar leads, as well as some quite heavy riffs during the verses, all giving way to a very epic, super catchy chorus, that ranks as one of my favorites. The last heavier song I’ll mention is “Senso dello vita”, one of the fastest-paced tracks on the album, as well as one where the keyboards are very noticeable. It’s a very fun, catchy track, with an excellent chorus, and is one of the most classic power metal sounding tracks on the album.
Moving to the lighter side of things, “Fallen Hero” is an excellent, mid-paced melodic metal track, and probably the most keyboard dominant track on the album, with some very nice beats and rather a light guitar work. It has another big chorus, filled with excellent vocal melodies, and is one of the catchier tracks on the album. When I saw the track name “Album of Our Life”, I was very nervous, expecting the typical “true metal” gloating and nonsense I tend to not be overly fond of, but instead, it’s a very heartfelt track, with very emotional lyrics, and incredible vocal performance. It’s one of the slower tracks on the album, while still having some nice guitar work, especially at the end of the chorus, and is one of my favorites. There are two ballads here, and while both are excellent, “The Story” is the better of the two. It’s a very beautiful track, starting with a mix of piano and very light guitar work, with Miji? showcasing the absolute softest side of his voice before the full band, kicks in and it turns into an epic power ballad, full of very emotional lyrics, as well as incredibly powerful, passionate vocal performance that helps take it to a whole new level. While the instrumental work is great throughout, the vocals and lyrics are the definite highlights, and I think this song is the absolute best showcase for Nikola Mijic, as he sounds incredible here.

I didn’t have particularly high expectations for Vengeance is Mine, but it ended up thoroughly blowing me away, and is easily my favorite Serious Black album to date! Fans of the band should be pleased, as it features the same mix of speedy power metal, more subdued melodic metal, complete with some hard rock influence in the guitar work, as well as a couple of fantastic ballads. Some folks may need time to adjust to the new vocalist, but I think he does a fantastic job and fits the band perfectly, while the songwriting here is easily the most consistently excellent work from the band to date. I highly recommend this album to any power metal fan looking for something on the slightly lighter side of things, while still having bursts of heaviness, and I hope the band can keep the momentum going for many more albums to come!

 

Ratings: 9/10

Written by: Travis Green

My Global Mind – Staff Writer

Travis Green is a Canadian based writer for My Global Mind, with a particular passion for power metal, as well as an interest metal in all its forms.

 

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