SERIOUS BLACK – Mirrorworld [Limited Edition Digipack] (2016)
Last year started more than promising for fans of high class melodic metal: SERIOUS BLACK, a so-called ‘all-star band’ appeared on the scene and dropped their highly acclaimed debut album on AFM Records. Much to the surprise of many, Serious Black indeed proved to be a real band and they kept their promise of rocking the stages wherever possible. So during only a year they not only successfully released a fantastic debut album, but also toured all over Europe.
And guess what, they also recorded a new album, “Mirrorworld“, to be released tomorrow September 9th.
I can’t believe it’s already been a year since Serious Black‘s fantastic debut As Daylight Breaks, an album that proved dream teams can exist and can work. Not only that, but this supergroup achieved it via a style that I am not so addict to.
And now, a year later, Serious Black is back with “Mirrorworld”. But it’s not the same old Serious Black.
For one, Grapow and Staunch are gone, replaced by guitarist Bob Katsionis (Constantine, Firewind) and drummer Alex Holzwarth (Rhapsody of Fire, ex-Avantasia). Fortunately, Urban breed is still part of the band and it’s one of the group’s highlights, delivering his vocal lines with passion and a degree of authenticity.
After the atmospheric intro ‘Breaking the Surface’, with a sound grounded in a core of modern melodic metal Serious Black hits on all cylinders with ‘As Long As I’m Alive’, an uptempo rocker sure to be a killer live track that will induce plenty of headbanging. Fireworks are on display from each of the participants.
Follower ‘Castor Skies’ similarly allows the band to put on a pyrotechnic show, especially from the six-stringed instruments wielded so expertly by Katsionis and Dominik Sebastian. The keyboard parts, alternating between a Hammond organ texture and stringed instrument sounds, add some melodic lines but more importantly depth during the verses.
Dialing back the intensity with an ’80s feel, ‘Heartbroken Soul’ takes more of a hard rock path focused more on Breed‘s melody lines than the blazing fretwork of the guitarists. This is the Serious Black I love, a killer tune and a highlight.
Another song in this vein is the highly melodious ‘Dying Hearts’, almost melodic hard rock if you want. The verses tend to be predictable, but again, this is Serious Black for the arenas.
Cranking up the speedometer once again, the band returns to a more Euro Power Metal style on ‘You’re Not Alone’, complete with the Hammond organ. The title track follows and proves to be one of the best of the album, from the epic-like opening to Breed‘s aggressive delivery to the catchy chorus and building guitar solo.
This Limited Edition Digipack features several bonus / extra tracks, and ‘Emotional Blackmail’ is the first of them, a bouncy midtempo close to a power ballad with varied vocals and a nice vibe. Another extra arrives with ‘The Life That You Want’, a pumping rocker very well orchestrated by the guitar riffs and keyboard stabs.
Serious Black follows with ‘State of My Despair’, a song featuring some slightly different riffing from Katsionis and Sebastian. While that particular element is interesting, the remainder just kind of floats by without much of an impact.
‘The Unborn Never Die’ is the closer track on the regular edition, a light melodic metal number with solid vocals and a cool slow middle part.
The remaining 3 tracks are all bonus, starting with the melodic ‘This Machine Is Broken’ blending sharp riffs with a poppy (yes poppy) verses and choruses.
On ‘Hello Moon’ the band try something different, mixing rapid drumming (but not heavy at all) with lots of keyboards and layers of harmony vocals resulting into some kind of a ‘melodic rock’ sound, but they add a break in the middle and a boisterous solo. I like it.
Then ‘Goodbye My Angel’ is a ballad, a very slow ballad, and call me nuts, but remind me of a Marillion song from the past. It’s very melodic, and if someone didn’t tell you this is Serious Black you’ll never guessed. I’m glad the band is trying these more adventurous musical paths.
“Mirrorworld” is a solid new installment from Serious Black, much, much more melodic than before. I think metalheads will dislike a bit this new album but on the other hand, hard rock / melodic rock fans will appreciate it even more than the band’s debut.
Yeah, it’s not that melodic metal and a more commercial product, certainly highly enjoyable and perfectly executed & produced.
01 – Breaking the Surface
02 – As Long as I’m Alive
03 – Castor Skies
04 – Heartbroken Soul
05 – Dying Hearts
06 – You’re Not Alone
07 – Mirrorworld
08 – Emotional Blackmail (Bonus Track)
09 – The Life That You Want (Bonus Track)
10 – State of My Despair
11 – The Unborn Never Die
12 – This Machine Is Broken (Bonus Track)
13 – Hello Moon (Bonus Track)
14 – Goodbye My Angel (Bonus Track)
Urban breed – Vocals (Project Arcadia, ex-Bloodbound)
Mario Lochert – Bass (Emergency Gate, ex-Visions of Atlantis)
Dominik Sebastian – Guitars (Edenbridge, Shadows’ Grey)
Jan Vacik – Keyboards (ex-Dreamscape)
Alex Holzwarth – Drums (Rhapsody of Fire, ex-Avantasia)
Bob Katsionis – Guitars (Firewind)