After a few months, it seemed as though 2016 was looking fairly weak in the power metal department. Of course, that’s easy to say when you miss major releases, as I did with Serenity’s “Codex Atlanticus”. This band is fairly new to me, despite this record being their 5th full-length album. The Austrian four-piece group has a somewhat unique sound, even though this record is pumped full of power metal clichés.
The obvious thing that needs to be addressed first is the band’s singer. There are moments on this record where he channels Tony Kakko’s voice better than the man himself could do. And while thousands of Sonata Arctica fans will no doubt be disappointed tomorrow when the band releases another frustrating record (myself included), Serenity offers you the chance to hear what that man’s voice could do on a real power metal record. Not only does lead singer Georg Neuhauser sound a lot more inspired and excited than Kakko has in recent years, but he’s got solid music to back him up as well. To be fair to Neuhauser, he does have his own flare on more than a few occasions, but those tend to be the exception rather than the rule.
“Codex Atlanticus” can’t be described as having one sound. Serenity has put together a diverse mix of tempos and feelings, amongst varying levels of heaviness. Regardless of which path the band takes, they usually succeed. Relative to other bands of this style, Serenity does lay on the symphonics a bit thicker, but not in a particularly cheesy way, instead opting for a grander, more epic sound. “Follow Me”, the first full track, is an obvious winner and likely has already become a crowd favourite, but two very nice surprises are the two ballad-esque tracks: “My Final Chapter” and “The Perfect Woman” (the latter track being considerably heavier at times). Both are filled with symphonic goodness that will make fans of some of Avantasia’s softer material delighted. “Sprouts of Terror” brings the speed that is so desperately needed in power metal to remain exciting.
The only real downside to this record is the fact that Serenity simply aren’t as good as some of the bigger names in the subgenre. Bands like the aforementioned Sonata Arctica are just coasting off their reputation at this point, but other groups like Avantasia and Primal Fear have both created truly killer albums this year. Serenity is a step below these bands in execution, but it doesn’t make “Codex Atlanticus” worth ignoring. Just the opposite in fact; this is sure to become a favourite amongst those who are willing to explore beyond the surface of power metal.
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"My Final Chapter"
3.9/5 or 78%.
Written by Scott