Serenity – Codex Atlanticus (2016)

With their fifth studio release, Austria’s Serenity prove that heavy metal still excels greatly from the Germanic continent. It’s no surprise as to why this latest effort scored a whopping 94% over at Metal Archives and currently stands as the quartet’s best record in their lengthy discography. The band have been around since 2001, consisting of Andreas Schipflinger on both drums and vocals, Georg Neuhauser on primary vocals, Fabio D’Amore (Pathosray, ex-Mirrormaze) on bass and backing vocals, and the newly recruited Cris Tian (ex-Visions Of Atlantis, one might think that his moniker here is an anagram) on guitars. When I hear a band like this, I think of the symphonic power metal of acts like Kamelot, Sonata Artica, Evergrey and Nightwish and to me, that’s a great feeling. There are parts of this album that remind me of classic Kamelot at their very best, and if for some reason you don’t like the new version of that act (even though I feel that current frontman Tommy Karevik is just as potent as Roy Khan ever was) you’ll find what you missed in Serenity. Though he’s just joined, Cris Tian really seems to show his strengths on the disc along with Luki Knoebl’s orchestrations, which combined with Fabio D’Amore’s hefty bass riffs definitely give me that feeling of Once era Nightwish.

Codex Atlanticus is a heavy record, but it’s full to the brim with pomp and mostly delivers in several piles of sing-along choruses. When you’re buying Codex Atlantica, you’re buying a record that you can sing at the top of your lungs to while you’re driving down the road after getting home from the late shift. The disc will undoubtedly turn your vehicle into what sounds like a full orchestra, and despite whether these songs are hard-edged like “Sprouts Of Terror” or a bit more balladic like “My Final Chapter” you’ll certainly have a lot of fun with it. There’s even some Queen influence rolling into “The Perfect Woman” which I didn’t expect to hear at all, even though it’s certainly refreshing. I feel that nearly every operatic act owes their existence to Queen and hearing such a tribute like this seems quite fitting. Neuhauser is by no means a Freddie Mercury, but that man’s voice has scientifically been considered something quite unique and I certainly would never make a comparison.

Most of all, Codex Atlanticus is quite uplifting for a heavy metal album and I think it’s important to have discs like this that offer hope in such a bleak world as ours. Make sure that you pick it up if you haven’t, as I’m sure you’ll be quite impressed by what has been composed and what comes across as catchy as popcorn and hot sauce. (Trust me, try it.) As of late, the band seem to taking a very religious tone with the lyrical content here, but I don’t feel that’s a detraction for me as you may have even noticed me giving good marks to Stryper. I don’t really feel that lyrical content has ever affected a record’s score unless it is just poorly written and forgettable. The listener gets a lot of heavy metal and pomp, along with a wonderful vocal performance that also features guest spots by Amanda Somerville (Trillium) as well as Jan Vack (Serious Black) and others. When you purchase the limited version of the disc, you’ll get two extra tracks as well as an orchestral piece. It should be sold out by now, but you might still get lucky.

In any case, this is one that I’d certainly recommend in the very bombastic synth/power/prog genre and you need to get your hands on it as soon as you can. It’s definitely worth a listen. As I said, it seems to be the band’s greatest record to date and you’re truly going to love it.

(11 Tracks, 52:00)

9/10

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