Released: 2014, AFM Records
Super groups come and go, often more of the latter. Enter Serious Black, a name well known to Harry Potter fans, as the name is a variation of a popular character from the series. As far as these formations go, there are some titans of metal here, including 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). With the knowledge of veterans, the band realizes that these one-offs have run their course and so have bluntly stated that they are a real band, and as proof will be supporting Hammerfall on tour. Released on AFM Records, Serious Black delivers a melodic power metal album that will certainly meet with mixed reactions.
As expected, Grapow’s riffs and fiery solos stand out for their technical precision. Similarly, Urban Breed’s vocal style also fits the music, reliable and effective, but not to the elite levels of Power Metal’s finest vocalists. Things kick off with a speedy track, “I Seek No Other Life” approaching Labyrinth and Rhapsody Of Fire velocities. Delivering a history lesson, is “Akhenaton”, a song about the pharaoh who was married to Nefertiti and attempted to push Egypt towards monotheism. The riffs and melodies are infused with Middle Eastern passages, which adds some variety to the neo classical power metal present through most of the album. “Mystic Mind” is another up tempo tune, the inspired kick drumming of Stauch driving this tune to the finish. Surprisingly, the title track is easily the weakest song on the album, a feeble and stumbling ballad drowned by orchestral elements with the guitars clearly mixed too low.
A few other cracks begin to appear in the façade, namely the overlong intros that have plagued Maiden in their later years, and an unmistakable feel of the generic. Serious Black are incredible musicians, but none of these songs resonated or left a lasting impression on me. I wish the band had pushed the envelope a bit more, but as veterans perhaps their goal was to tighten up on an already proven formula. Most fans of power metal have their own preferences, and a studied, perfectly executed delivery of the style may be enough to satisfy the majority of listeners. By no means is AS DAYLIGHT BREAKS a bad album, but there is the unmistakable feeling that this could have been so much more than just another “decent” power metal album.