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Serenity - "War Of Ages" (CD)

Serenity - "War Of Ages" CD cover image

"War Of Ages" track listing:

1. Wings of Madness (6:01)
2. The Art of War (5:15)
3. Shining Oasis (5:15 )
4. For Freedom's Sake (4:42 )
5. Age of Glory (6:50)
6. The Matricide (5:03)
7. Symphony for the Quiet (5:06)
8. Tannenberg (5:59)
9. Legacy of Tudors (5:09)
10. Royal Pain (4:51)

Reviewed by on March 7, 2013

"Serenity songs are like opening Russian dolls in reverse…you start with a hint of grandiose and by the time the solo hits the full amplitude is revealed. Getting there is peeling onion layers of melodiousness complete with the whimpering."

Many bands attempt to play symphonic metal, but Austria’s Serenity has mastered the art to such a degree that the mere mention of a new release spellbinds fans of the subgenre. The follow-up to “Death & Legacy” was teased in my interview with the band at ProgPower USA just before the group brought the house down with the best performance of the festival. “War of Ages” is Serenity’s fifth album and it continues in the band’s tradition of creating exquisitely and tastefully bombastic material to satisfy my symphonic sweet tooth. While it doesn’t completely rise to the pristine perfection of its predecessor, “War of Ages” comes dangerously close.

One of the highlights of the album is the announcement of former Whyzdom vocalist Clementine Delancy as the band’s permanent female presence, having relied on guest appearances in the past from the likes of Charlotte Wessels (Delain), Amanda Somerville (Trillium/Kiske-Somerville), Ailyn (Sirenia) and Sandra Schleret (Siegfried). Like hinted in the ProgPower USA performance, her presence gives stability to the female spot, truly making Serenity a two vocalist act. Her beautiful, soft, and serene but powerful voice is captured all over “War of Ages,” bringing that feminine balance to Georg Neuhauser’s commanding presence and Thomas Buchberger’s six string mastery.

“War of Ages” brings more of the band’s trademark of dignified melody cloaked in concentrated historical references from Master Neuhauser (who is currently seeking a doctorate in the subject). This time he touches on subjects that include Alexander the Great and his “Shining Oasis,” the clash between the German and Russian Empires at the battle of “Tannenburg,” and the aftermath of the Wars of Roses that led to the rise of a powerful family in England in “Legacy of Tudors.” Neuhauser is as much a mastermind of history as he is vocalizing about it.

At the core of the album, like all Serenity albums before, lies the band’s greatest gift to music: paeans with multitudes of harmonious layers. Serenity songs are like opening Russian dolls in reverse…you start with a hint of grandiose and by the time the solo hits the full amplitude is revealed. Getting there is peeling onion layers of melodiousness complete with the whimpering. Examples can be found in the complex “Tanneberg” (complete with Neuhauser’s Germanic “wictim”) and “Legacy of Tudors” with it’s a Cappella opening that erupts into the band’s typical “serine heaviness” that glitters with every release. Favorites include the stunning and guitar driven “Art of War,” which also presents the album’s chorus, the building beauty of “Shining Oasis,” and the elegant ballad “For Freedom’s Sake.”

There is a feast for the ears that awaits those who have opened their hearts and mind to the Austrian masters of symphony. With as much pomp and circumstance that Italian symphonic master’s Rhapsody had laid before and since the early 90’s, Serenity takes all that majesty and fashions its own undeniable sound with a distinctively progressive element. Let the “War of Ages” begin.

Highs: One of the finest examples of perfect symphonic metal.

Lows: A tick less than the perfect "Death & Legacy." Not for extreme fans.

Bottom line: Serenity takes the symphonic metal world by storm with its "War of Ages."

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)