Serious Black - As Daylight Breaks - (9/10)
Published on January 31, 2015
Grapow – Stauch – Breed – Locher – Vacik – Sebastian. Super group anybody? Many a time, when super groups such as these are announced, the air is bristling with excitement upon the sheer potential the names promise, but many of these times the excitement is fairly quickly replaced with disappointment, when the sum of all parts does not match up in the end. Serious Black (for the uninitiated, a word play on the Harry Potter character Sirius Black and already a very common bone of contention on the interwebs) are now trying to break the mould and live up to the expectations the members’ names generate with their debut As Daylight Breaks.
As is to be expected, Serious Black’s stylistic direction reflects the members’ musical past, power metal with some excursions into heavy metal, powerful, energetic and with great vocals. Many consider his albums with Tad Morose Breed’s crowning achievements, but this is probably the best he has been since Modus Vivendi in 2003. As to be expected, the musicianship is flawless, the execution tight and worthy the laurels bestowed upon the band in the lead-up to the debut’s release, yet the overall quality of the songs is what will be the decisive factor.
And one has to look no further than opening “I Seek No Other Life”, which without wasting time with an intro is a nigh-perfect opener for the album, upbeat, energetic, with excellent guitar work and an outstanding performance by Breed. While some might malign the use of the keyboards, “High and Low” follows it up with a more atmospheric yet no less emotive approach, giving the band an excellent 1-2 punch right out of the gate and with it deliver proof that not all all-star conglomerates are doomed from the get-go.
After Egyptian styled “Temple of the Sun” and “Akhenaton” (Egypt and Breed seem to go together very well, just see Tad Morose’s “Anubis”), we hit a little slump until the title track gives us a breather with a nice and quiet ballad, after which things pick up once more for a worthy ending in driving “Setting Fire to the Earth” and “Older and Wiser”. But even when on a “slump”, Serious Black still fire on pretty much all cylinders, so one should not expect them to have checked their quality at the studio entrance for these tracks.
If fans can see past the somewhat unfortunate moniker (and from the above mentioned discussions in forums and websites a sizeable part of the community seems to be having issues with this), then As Daylight Breaks easily is one of the big early surprises of the year, delivering an excellent piece of power metal that has the potential to become more than just a forlorn footnote in the pages of the book that is heavy metal in 2015. Strong, mature songwriting meeting Breed in top shape, how can you go wrong?