Today, it seems like there are many bands out there looking to the past to weave a conceptual album that is rich in a specific history, whether bashing or glorifying something specific about it. Of course, war seems to be the big topic button in Metal, primarily about specific events that were important to that band's region, or the most influential to that member that typically affected that country. For the band's third full-length effort, Legacy & Death, Serenity follow the same educational but would never be used in a classroom premise by delving back into history to tell more then one specific tale. This conceptual piece happens to take a look at many pivotal and influential people throughout time, such as Christopher Columbus, Queen Elizabeth I, Sir Francis Drake, and more, in a beautiful, powerful, symphonic Power/progressive Metal one hour plus album. Honestly, had any of my History classes been this kick ass, I probably would have paid more attention in school.
Serenity compose an album that is both moving and powerful through a stylish Symphonic Power Metal sound that is complimented with a suiting clean vocal style. Many of the songs go by at a somewhat faster pace, but utilize the Symphonic aspects for a more epic sound, though some tracks have a much faster and more technical approach that contradicts the vocals that clash against the music in a manner that causes the two to end up complimenting each other perfectly. "Far From Home" is the perfect mixture of this faster and techie sound, though retaining that epic approach, retaining a more deeper, richer, even forceful Power Metal style.
The album is set up nicely as well from the conceptual aspect. It seems that each interlude or introduction acts as the start of another historical figure that the band intends to follow, and the music they perform often reflects that individual, and the setting these introductory tracks create. "Set Sail To..." manages to create an epic atmosphere that feels curious and majestic, matching the exploratory nature the lyrics portray. "Prayer" is more a spoken word segment that builds up the pieces to follow, which smoothly transitions into the war-based drumming and keyboards of the start to "State of Siege", which sets up the much harder and despairing Power Metal atmosphere for this chunk of material. These tracks do seem to focus a little more on the keyboards and other Symphonic elements at times, such as the violins really aiding the emotion of "Changing Fate", but the guitars do still steal the show, especially the opening solo on "State of Siege". Next you're transported to another native country through a tribal interlude track "Below Eastern Skies", clearly setting a Middle Eastern regional atmosphere for the song, though not carried into the actual songs after it, and "Lament" is a spoken word track that doesn't do anything and just feels tacked on with "My Legacy" coming off as another track the band had recorded but had no place for on the album in a conceptual way.
The album also features a number of female guest appearances of vocalists from various bands. this impressive list features Charlotte Wessels of Delain on "Serenade of Flames", Ailyn of Sirenia on both "The Chevalier" & "Prayer", and Amanda Sommerville, a female singer and songwriter who recorded with a number of bands including Kamelot and After Forever on "Changing Fate". All three of these vocalists do a superb job and really add a lot of emotion through the duets they take part in, and it really just makes these tracks stand out the most. The songs come off just as breathtaking as the others, if not more so, and they wind up being a very welcome addition to the recording.
Overall: 4.8/5 - A brilliant take on many historical figures that leaves you begging for more. This album certainly deserves a place among the greats of Metal. It's easy to fall in love with, give it a go!
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