So guitarists Roland Grapow and Dominik Sebastian, drummer Thomen Stauch, bassist Mario Lochert, keyboardist Jan Vacik, and vocalist extraordinaire Urban breed have decided to get together and give us SERIOUS BLACK. I’m not gonna be like every other goddamn writer out there and rattle off each one of these guys’ résumés because any self-respecting Power Metal fan should know who this cast of heavy hitters is, quite frankly. How the stars aligned to bring such heavyweights together in one band may be above the comprehension of us mere mortals, but I for one am glad this has happened. Their debut album As Daylight Breaks comes out January 20 on AFM Records and when it does it should have fans of melodic Power Metal grinning from ear-to-ear. Urban Breed is definitely a favorite for me vocally so I was all over this one as soon as it showed up at my doorstep.
“I Seek No Other Life” comes in with a vicious smack upside the head that quickly sets the tone for the rest of the album and features the first of many blistering solos on the record and some thunderous drumming from Stauch to go with it. Vacik’s keys drive the melody of “High and Low” while Breed absolutely soars on the chorus. Add in thick basslines from Lochert, stir in some crunchy guitars, brown slightly, and serve. Simple, understated piano at the beginning had me thinking “Sealing My Fate” was a ballad at first, which had alarm bells ringing in my head because it’s just too early after this kickass vibe we’ve established. My worries were unfounded, because it heavies up rather quickly and has lush harmonies and more delicious solos.
A brief interlude is next in “Temple of the Sun”, an instrumental with an ancient Egyptian flair that bleeds over into next song “Akhematon”. You can almost feel the whips cracking across the backs of the Pharoah’s slaves and Vacik’s solo enhances the tune perfectly. “My Mystic Mind” is grandiose and sweeping while at the same time retaining its heaviness and speed, making it one of the album’s best. I can only imagine this one in a live setting. Have I mentioned the guitar solos yet? Yet another ripper right here, folks. More riffage is afoot for “Trail of Murder” and then things slow down drastically for the title track, which is pretty good but it almost grinds the momentum to a halt as far as I’m concerned. By no means is it a bad song; it just feels out of place alongside the other ten tracks until it kicks in, which I would have liked to seen happen a bit earlier.
The band engages full kickass mode once again for “Setting Fire to the Earth” another favorite from the word go, with another smashing chorus that warrants repeat listens. “Listen to the Storm” starts out with a darker edge to it, and is a bit more brooding than the rest, but not at the expense of the melody, which is there in abundance especially over the final two minutes which are downright majestic for lack of a better word. Breed owns every inch of this one, no question. This brings me to album closer and number one favorite “Older and Wiser”. If “I Seek No Other Life” kicked the door open, this song is the fragmentation grenade that knocked down the frame and took out the rest of the wall! The whole band is on fire and the tune is already on three different driving mixes for fuck’s sake! I love it! In short, SERIOUS BLACK have something special on their hands and I hope they keep giving us the good stuff like they did on As Daylight Breaks.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Older and Wiser”, “Setting Fire to the Earth”, “I Seek No Other Life”, “My Mystic Mind”, “High and Low”