Comprised of Roland Grapow (Masterplan, ex-Helloween), Thomen Stauch (ex-Blind Guardian), Mario Lochert (ex-Visions Of Atlantis), Dominik Sebastian (Edenbridge), Jan Vacik (ex-Dreamscape) and Urban breed (ex Tad Morose), Serious Black have some weight behind them to back up the tag of being an “all-star power metal band”. Set to release their debut offering, let’s see what shines though as daylight breaks.
Opening the album is “I Seek No Other Life”. A thick sounding guitar riff accompanied by some intense atmosphere building synths leads into the full band. The vocals are like most Power Metal bands – melodic and commanding and the music is fast paced but quite heavy sounding too. The fast paced feel of the song is backed up by the precisely timed rhythm section and the lead guitar work is fluid as it glides across the track round the mid-point of the song. It’s an attention grabber and it does open the album up rather well. “High and Low” opens with a synth line and some pounding guitars. It’s the same as last time round, cleanly sang with some beef to it for emphasis where needed but unlike the opener, this track has a less frantic feel to it. The slower pace allows for some interesting harmony lines in the chorus and in the final chorus, it works out quite well to close the track. “Sealing My Fate” opens with a piano section which screams out ballad to the listener. The softer, more emotional approach with the vocals backs this up when they come in and when the rest of the band comes in, the guitars mirror the piano line but with more kick to it. With the distortion now in play, the drums are powerful and the guitars alternate between twisty riffs and big chugging sections. It’s not a typical ballad in the sense of the style, but it does have that feel to it and it works well enough.
“Temple of the Sun” is a short instrumental track which is like an atmosphere builder. It’s got that epic feel to it and wouldn’t seem out of place in a film about Ancient Egypt or someplace like that. It acts as an intro to “Akhenaton” which it seamlessly transitions too and the first line of the track directly name drops the previous short instrumental. It retains that middle-eastern vibe, and lyrically it deals with Ancient Egypt, so it all ties in. It’s a moderately paced track with some great rhythm and vocal work and it does have a sense of grandeur about it, but it would have worked better as one single track. “My Mystic Mind” follows on with a similarly epic feel in its intro with the dramatic synths and harmony guitars before it descends into a full speed power metal assault with some stunning rhythm work. It’s your typical European styled melodic power metal track – passionate sounding vocals telling a story over fast paced music, like Sonata Arctica but with a slightly less grating vocalist at times.
“Trail of Murder” follows up with a similar sounding intro but as it goes on, there is a slower pace and a slight groove at times, courtesy of the traditional heavy metal gallop feel rhythm at times. It’s a short track, but it works well, bringing the album out of that story-telling phase and bringing focus back onto the music and its delivery. The title track “As Daylight Breaks” is up next, and it opens with a piano and string section which much like “Sealing My Fate” earlier in the album is a ballad styled track. The vocals on this one are stunning – full of emotion and well delivered and the piano and string accompaniment compliments it well. In the final third of the song, the rest of the band joins in, keeping the slow pace. The guitars are solid and sit well in the mix, helping add a slight heavy touch to the gentle sounding track and on the whole, it is a well worked piece of music. “Setting Fire To The Earth” brings back the metal feel once again with its impressive harmony guitar opening and slightly groove driven feel. It’s not as heavy as some of the other tracks, but the vocal melody and riffs sound good, especially when it picks up under the verse with its more traditional metal feel. Just after the halfway point there’s a lead section with some good harmony lines which leads into the big build up for the ending which is worked well.
“Listen To The Storm” is the penultimate track on the album and it opens up with some dramatic sounding synths and thunderclap samples. The clean sounding guitars give way to some distortion and mood building synths, punctuated by storm sounds before it transitions into a bass driven verse. The guitars and synths kick back in and the song stays at a relatively slow pace. It’s a bit of a comedown from the previous track but that all changes when the guitar solo comes in two thirds of the way in. It’s one of the best lead sections on the album as it builds up and twists and turns, keeping the melody and feel of the song without going over the top before a slightly faster feeling outro comes. “Older And Wiser” closes the album with a real classic euro-metal feel to it. Fast chugging guitars and tight work from the rhythm section with strong vocals pick the pace back up for the last time on the album and it’s a good closing track to the album, especially the guitar solo halfway through which has some real bite to it and sounds and feels like a real metal solo. The song keeps the pace up till the end and the album ends much like how it started, with some classic power metal!
On the whole, “As Daylight Breaks” is a good, solid slice of power metal which goes for melody over heavy. Repetitive at times and occasionally suffering from a lack of diversity in approaches from some elements of the band, it’s a good album and worth a listen if you are a fan of any of the member’s other works.