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Seraphim
Ai
July 2004
Released: 2004, Magnum Music
Rating: 2.8/5
Reviewer: Michael De Los Muertos

Seraphim is a band from Taiwan that would obviously like to be remembered as “the Asian Nightwish.” Their style is generally rooted in melodic/power metal, and they’re characterized by soaring, operatic female vocals. On the whole they’re not bad—but they have a long way to go to be on par with Nightwish.



AI is the band’s third release, following THE SOUL THAT NEVER DIES (2002) and THE EQUAL SPIRIT (2003). After the obligatory pastoral acoustic-guitar intro, they come on strong with a lot of melody, some speed and some reasonably heavy guitars on “Tears,” but the music is all a backdrop for the vocal talent of Pay Lee. She’s very good and whizzes up and down octaves and vocal ranges pretty effortlessly. Her sound isn’t quite as deep or resonating as Tarja of Nightwish, but it’s still impressive. Like a Nightwish album, AI wanders through various moods with the songs, some fast and very metallic (“Implementation,” “Can’t Take,” “Before”), others slower and more methodical (“Resurrect,” “Desperate,” and the ballad “Is That?”). Some of them, such as “Can’t Take,” my personal favorite, are quite catchy. Unfortunately in its later stretches the album seems to drag a bit, giving me the impression that Seraphim has fired most of their bullets early in the show. There’s just not as much spice or energy as there needs to be in the nine-minute epic, “Instantaneous,” that closes down the album, excepting of course the pretty needless return to acoustic guitar-land that is the final track.



That may be a good way to describe what I didn’t like about the album: it just doesn’t cross over into something hard-hitting with a lot of energy and memorable riffs. Technically it’s all excellent. All the players are very good, and Ms. Lee is a songbird of formidable talent. The production is very good. But as I’ve said many times about power and melodic bands with operatic female vocals, the music behind the vocals has to really rock. At times it sounds like Seraphim are going through the motions. Nothing here really gets my fist in the air and commands the imagination.



Nevertheless, AI is still a pretty decent album. If you really go for the female operatic style, it’s a good investment.
Track Listing

1. Intro
2. Tears
3. Resurrect
4. Implementation
5. Desperate
6. Can’t Take
7. My
8. In The Air
9. Hone
10. Before
11. Is That?
12. Instantaneous
13. The End

Lineup

Pay Lee – vocals and chorus
Kessier Hsu – guitar
Jax Yeh – bass and vocals
Simon “Machinegun” Lin – drums
Lucas Huang – guitars

Contact

http://http://www.magnum.com.tw/seraphim

Other reviews

» Ai
by Michael De Los Muertos

» Ai
by Anders Sandvall


Next review: » Seraphim - Ai
Previous review: » Sequel - BACK

Seraphim
Ai
October 2004
Released: 2004, Arise Records/Sound Pollution
Rating: 3.0/5
Reviewer: Anders Sandvall

This Taiwanese band released their debut album THE SOUL THAT NEVER DIES in 2002 and was followed that up year later with THE EQUAL SPIRIT. The second album was mixed at Studio Fredman (Gothenburg) and the post-production was done in Finnvox Studio (Helsinki). Both albums were very well-received by the media. Now it’s time for the guys and girl to follow up the two success albums.



For AI, the band chose Studio Sunhouse in Taipei, Taiwan and the album was recorded during the summer of 2003. To mix the album they once again returned to Finnvox Studio and tabbed Mikko Karmila and Mika Jussila to mix and the master. The band themselves did the production and the arrangements and I have to say that they are no geniuses on producing because the album sounds pretty standard.



Seraphim’s music has many similarities to the Finnish band Nightwish. Just like Nightwish Seraphim has a female on vocals. Unfortunatley, Pay can’t do half of what Tarja can do with her voice. Pay really tries to sound like she has an opera voice, but she reminds more of Sarah Brightman. She could easily fit in any musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Seraphim have also tried to create the same epic and grand soundscapes that their Finnish colleagues do, but they have failed. I would define their music as melodic hard rock/metal with power metal sneaked into it and with Pay at the top of the mix. Don’t misunderstand me now, Pay isn’t that bad on vocals but it’s really frustrating when she insists on singing in the same high vocal range the whole album through. It wouldn’t hurt if she could vary her vocals a bit. To confuse the listener even more they have for some reason added black metal vocals, which are handled by Jax, the badd player. Don’t ask me why they chose to do this. That man shouldn’t come close to a mic in the future. His crowing sounds awful and you can’t hear what he sings. He drags down the rating I’ve given this album! However, someone that really impresses is the bandleader Kessier on guitar. He sounds extremely good and knows exactly how to handle a guitar.



All together the album contains fourteen tracks, including one intro and one instrumental song. Kessier has written all of the songs. “Ai” is a Chinese means word which tranlsates into English as “love.” Fortunately, they have chosen to sing in English. I’m not against singing in your own language, but I think you limit yourself a great deal when the rest of the world doesn’t understand a word you say.



I have listened to AI a lot and it’s not bad at all. But some changes wouldn’t be bad. In addition to the vocal issues I mentioned earlier, Seraphim could also use some more variety in their material because it all has a tendency to float into each other. First and foremost they have to get rid of the Nightwish complex and maybe let the other band members have some artistic freedom and write material.



Overall, if you get used to Pay’s voice this sounds quite good. Seraphim consists of competent musicians and parts of the material are of a really high class. Their melodic power metal music works best except for the slow ballads, which are really unnecessary. They have a really nice looking album cover created by Mattias Norén (Evergrey, Arena) that looks really mystic and shows what kind of music the band plays.



I’m looking forward to hear what this Taiwanese band do next. I would really like to hear what the next album sounds like because I’m sure they can do better. It’s also fun to hear a band from the Far East that plays heavy music. Besides this band I only know of one band that’s from Asia and that’s Loudness from Japan. Does anybody besides me remember them?



Killer tracks are “Tears”, “Resurrect”, “In The Air” and “Before.”



http://www.soundpollution.se
Track Listing

1. Intro
2. Tears
3. Resurrect
4. Implementation
5. Desperate
6. Can’t Take
7. My
8. In The Air
9. Aone
10. Before
11. Is That?
12. Instantaneous
13. The End
14. My (Chinese version by Quinn Weng)

Lineup

Pay – lead vocals
Jax – bass, vocals
Kessier – guitar
Lucas – guitar
Simon – drums

Other reviews

» Ai
by Michael De Los Muertos

» Ai
by Anders Sandvall


Next review: » Serberus - Descension
Previous review: » Sequel - BACK





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