Serenity - Lionheart

Serenity Lionheart cover
Napalm Records
Serenity is an Austrian Power metal band that has been since the new millennium, but actively releasing in the past decade or so with a rather steady output of albums, which also featured female vocals as a standard in the past. They’ve nuanced and refined their sound and have gone from strength to strength, especially in the past few years.
They are doing a follow-up, to their rather strong and “finest” so far “Codex Atlanticus” a mere year later and a concept album at that… about Richar, I more commonly referred to as “The Lionheart”, a strong military leader, but not the best monarch England ever had… then again far from the worst, either. It’s only that they do this “happy” idealized version of his story, praising the victories and the whole “holy land” recapture idea, while overlooking all the atrocities that happened during the crusades and that. Not cool stuff to sing about, I guess.
Serenity are better than bands like the ridiculous Gloryhammer, the barren of good songs Freedom Call, or the also rather weak Stratovarius wannabe’s Sonata Arctica – with whose singer Tony Kakko, Serenity’s Georg Neuhauser seems to have most common timbre qualities to, despite a bit of an Italian sort of accent the latter seems to have a trace hint of. Despite being probably better than most of those bands, they’re still less regarded and successful than all of them.
The album is typical of the symphonic genre, produced to near perfection, cleaned up meticulously with almost no bass at all and nicely layered over orchestrations. There are the overtly cheery “Rhapsodick” moments that do not annoy, as at least they sound nicely spaced apart and coming at appropriate moments to lighten up the mood, but it’s not them that make the album. Songs like the urgent opener “United”, the double bass rich “Lionheart”, the almost “Disney” ballad “Heaven”, the pretty heavy and epic “The Fortress (Of Blood and Sand)” and the conclusion in “The Final Crusade”, seem to be the main pillars of the album. It’s not a bad album overall, it just doesn’t go the extra mile in an overpopulated genre and is “based” on historic events, rather than trying to accurately portray them, given some strong “poetic license”.
A second CD reserved for special and boxed editions has some piano version of older songs, as well as two older bonuses. Weird and not something I deem necessary, but not really something that would spoil the release. For fans of somewhat cheesy power-metal, this ain’t a bad choice. In fact the workman-like ethic of the band makes them far preferable to a ton of “overcheezed” antagonists they might have… but I while I was never into this much cheese, apart from maybe when Rhapsody originally released their first few albums, which were at the time ground breaking, I now feel pretty tired of the genre and it’s smalzy melodies and lack of actual punch. But, hey I’d take these guys over the pseudo-poseur-manowar and terrible vocals of Sabaton any day of the week.