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Serenity - Nemesis AD review

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Band: Serenity
Album: Nemesis AD
Style: Symphonic power metal
Release date: November 2023

01. Memoriae Alberti Dureri
02. The Fall Of Man [feat. Roy Khan]
03. Ritter, Tod Und Teufel (Knightfall)
04. Soldiers Under The Cross
05. Reflections (Of AD)
06. Sun Of Justice
07. Nemesis
08. The End Of Babylon
09. Crowned By An Angel
10. Just The Sky Is The Limit
11. The Fall Of Man [feat. Roy Khan] [orchestral version] [bonus]

With over 20 years under their belt, Serenity are now genuine veterans of the power metal circuit. Their previous album, The Last Knight, raised fears that the band might be growing weary with age, but they’re firmly back on track with Nemesis AD.

My introduction to Serenity was debut album Words Untold & Dreams Unlived, a really solid power metal release that ended up being one of the few (not released by Blind Guardian or Iced Earth) that I acquired a physical copy of. Despite this strong start, I’ve admittedly found their career since to be slightly patchy; for every Fallen Sanctuary or Lionheart that’s demonstrated their virtues, there’s been a Death & Legacy or Codex Atlanticus that’s not quite done it for me. Their shift throughout the 2010s towards a Kamelot-esque symphonic power sound has been fairly successful, but The Last Knight was far from the best rendition of the style. Thankfully, they’ve followed it up with one of their stronger efforts in the form of Nemesis AD.

The Kamelot reference has never felt more pertinent than it does here; after the customary intro piece, Serenity kicks things off with “The Fall Of Man”, which features Roy Khan himself as a guest vocalist. It’s a song that does feel indebted somewhat to Khan’s former band, particularly with the opening double bass drum assault and lively guitar leads, not to mention some of the lyricism, but there’s plenty of Serenity in the song as well, most notably with the solo. Vocalist Georg Neuhauser, one of two remaining members from Words Untold & Dreams Unlived, effectively complements Khan during the chorus; the two voices bear similarities, but differ enough to bring distinct strengths to the table.

“The Fall Of Man” isn’t the only song that is liable to appeal to Kamelot fans, with a potent one-two of songs later in the record similarly scratching that itch. “Sun Of Justice” has a very The Black Halo-esque seductive touch to the verses, which are contrasted nicely with the lively, bright up-tempo chorus that serves as a great vehicle for Neuhauser’s extensive talent. Immediately afterwards is the similarly anthemic title track, which like “Sun Of Justice” opens with scene-setting symphonic arrangements before shifting into a verse reminiscent of Kamelot and then a driven chorus powered along by rampant drumming; hey, if a formula works well, no harm in sticking to it, and while the songs have quite a bit of overlap, the hooks are strong enough and different enough from one another to minimize the déjà vu.

As much as the shadow of one band in particular does linger over parts of Nemesis AD, this album is more than just the sound of a tribute act. “Ritter, Tod Und Teufel (Knightfall)” delivers some more bombast outside of the chorus with a nicely passionate pre-chorus that leads into the suitably hooky chorus; the symphonics also bolster out some of the metal melodies a bit more clearly on this track. The record’s other real feature of particular note is 8-minute centrepiece “Reflections (Of AD)”, on which the band go all in with the symphonics; from elaborate orchestrations in the softer intro to the triumphant choirs premonishing the jubilant tone of the song’s triumphant chorus, Serenity give a grandeur to “Reflections (Of AD)” that fits the almost Meat Loaf-esque rock opera vibe. I think this song has to rank among the band’s more unique, ambitious and delightful efforts.

With all that positivity, where’s the ‘but’ that’s going to explain why the score isn’t higher? Well, if I have to point towards anything that hampers the album experience, it’s not any specific song but the record’s structure. Serenity actual demonstrate themselves to be firmly above average when it comes to power metal ballads on “Soldiers Under The Cross” and “Crowned By An Angel”, and as slower anthems go, “The End Of Babylon” and “The Sky Is Our Limit” are perfectly capable.

However, when listened to as a full album, Nemesis AD really loses a lot of momentum in the aftermath of the title track; after the epicness of “Reflections (Of AD)” is followed up by the power and hookiness of “Sun Of Justice” and “Nemesis”, having “The End Of Babylon”, “Crowned By An Angel” and “The Sky Is Our Limit” back-to-back-to-back really drains some of energy from the experience, and while none of those tracks are bad in isolation, in succession none of them have enough charm to overcome the whiplash from the major shift in tack. Given the extensiveness of their similarities, perhaps “Sun Of Justice” and “Nemesis” could have been distanced a bit from one on the tracklist to counteract this, and “Reflections (Of AD)”, as well as it works as the record’s centrepiece, feels like an obvious closing to ensure the album ends on a real high.

Still, when considering Nemesis AD on a song-by-song basis, it stacks up very favourably against most of their material from the past decade or even more, with 5 songs that would easily make their ways onto a ‘best of’ playlist for the band. In particular, it’ll be exciting to see whether Serenity dabble more with rock opera epics along the lines of “Reflections (Of AD)” in the future, as they really pull it off with aplomb here.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 8
Songwriting: 8
Originality: 5
Production: 9

Written on 13.11.2023 by Hey chief let's talk why not


Comments: 1   Visited by: 35 users
15.11.2023 - 21:57
Rating: 8
I got to know them with the war of ages album, and that is still may fav album . the previous one was a letdown, but it seems this time around they released a better one, however still not fully back to form. the cooperation with Roy is a really good one though.

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