Serious Black - Magic

Serious Black Magic cover
Serious Black
AFM Records
Average: 5.1 (82 votes)
Serious Black are a bit of an international supergroup that started when the former bassist of VOA asked ex Helloween guitarist Roland Grapow if he was interested in collaborating and together with former Blind Guardian drummer Thomen Stauch and Tad Morose’s former vocalist and general weirdo Urban Breed, and Jan Vacik on keys, decided to form Serious Black, a bit of a power metal supergroup of sorts… Grapow left deciding to concentrate on Masterplan, while also Stauch departed for reasons unknown, being replaced by Firewind guitarist/keyboardist Bob Katsionis and former Rhapsody and Sieges Even drummer Alex Holzwarth.
They lost no time releasing “Mirrorworld”, the follow up to debut “As Daylight Breaks” in rapid succession and once more they are back only a year later with their third album in three years “Magic”. Somehow, it seems to be their “strongest”, more mature and focused release in a genre that’s flooded with a lot of mediocre releases as of late.
Following a short intro of “With a Tip of the Hat” is “Binary Magic”, which is a pretty underwhelming opener, but not completely disappointing… just a bit of a “rusty”, somewhat up-tempo number that doesn’t seem able to be a proper blinder, which after this “false” start “Burn Witches Burn” is, with its more immediate and urgent build is. Breed sounds too a lot more motivated, grittier and darker, just as you remember him…
“Lone Gunman Rule” had me scarred, as 9/10 of those “desperado” metal tunes end up being pretty spaghetti, more mariachi than machete?! Hehe. Thankfully this one is no fluke and it doesn’t resort in silly effects and such childish devices to “work”.
“Now You ‘ll Never Know” is a quite decent mid-tempo, with sweet verses and a neat chorus that doesn’t outstay it’s welcome and has one of Breed’s better performances on the album.
“I Can Do Magic” is a little more playful, reminiscent of more melodic Helloween or Masterplan I guess.
“Serious Black Magic” (that pun?!) is seriously, good! Moody, syncopated and has an unpredictable, yet catchy chorus…
“Skeletons on Parade” tries to be a “scary tale” and works well enough under the circumstances, despite its riff being quite dynamic and the rest of it, not really following suit, just as tightly, but opting for more melodious displays.
“Mr Nightmist” has a nice melody, but for some reason made me feel a deja vu, I dunno but I felt that the melody is derivative of maybe “BWB”? No matter, it’s given a nice new twist, so it’s passable with no complains.
“The Witch of Caldwell Town” dispels any doubt one of the more powerful and metallic songs on the album, with quite a riff and melodic chorus… again with Urban being just great…
“True Love is Blind” is not quite the ballad, as it’s too paced, but it’s a mid-tempo song with a love-theme that’s not half as bad.
I’m pretty sure a lot will identify at various times of their lives with a title like “Just Kill Me”… when you’re too fed up with shit and well, the song is actually pretty good; it’s adventurous in an album that, while is great, doesn’t take too many chances with its form.
I did initially felt somewhat letdown by “Newfound Freedom” initially, which isn’t bad per se, but only develops into something grand towards the end…
“One Final Song” is a hidden track that begins as a piano ballad then goes full creepy symphonic, only to bow out in true power metal fashion. Weird, but not bad for it. Oh and after a couple of minutes, there’s even some crickets chirping with strings, effects and even some piss take vocals on SBM’s chorus. Oh, for seriousness’s sake.
The “limited” edition comes with a second CD, with a live recording of the band’s set from Atlanta’s ProgPower fest. Since it’s priced as a single CD, it’s most recommended to get that one.

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