Serious Black, The ‘Allstar Power Metal’ band are back again. 18 months on from their debut effort “As Daylight Breaks” which was a respectable, melodic slice of European inspired Power Metal leaning to the more melodic side of the musical spectrum, the formidable six-piece are taking us once again on an epic audio experience, so with that being said, let’s see what lies beyond the glass.
The instrumental opener, “Breaking The Surface” has that dramatic build up feel to it. Ripe with piercing synths, massive percussive effects and a real melodic progression which loops on itself, it gives the impression of entering another world of sorts. Climaxing with a sudden cut off, it bursts straight into “As Long As I’m Alive”, the first actual track of the album. After the steady build, it surges forward with that familiar Power Metal sound. Galloping riffs, clean vocals which ring out perfectly clear and solid sounding guitars, it acts a good taste of the album. As the vocals lay out the story contained in the lyrics, it draws you in and the heavy melodic music keeps you held in place, allowing you to experience it in full.
“Castor Skies” has a slightly darker and more exotic edge to it. With its twisting, descending lead runs in the intro, the track catches the attention almost instantly and from there, the power comes in. Well paced and timed riffs synchronise with the piercing synths to create an intense atmosphere and the hook laden melodic chorus rings out well. Vocally solid, combining a raw passion in the verses with a more uplifting harmony lead vocal line, the contrast works well and helps augment the feel of the song, a familiar trick from their previous release. “Heartbroken Soul” has that steady chug feel to it. With its solid bassline and drum work, coupled with the moody clean sections and emotion charged vocal delivery, it doesn’t pack the same punch as the previous tracks, but it does resonate well with the theme of the track and the atmosphere it creates. Following on and keeping the slightly gloomy feel is the moody “Dying Hearts”. Packed with powerful riffs, dramatic synths and solid rhythmic work, it’s got a solid structure to it, but the little things are what stand out the most – the subtle riff turn arounds, the faint cleans ringing out over the steady muted chugs in the verse and the real passion in the vocal delivery.
Speeding things up a little is “You’re Not Alone”. Opening up with that harmonic minor neoclassical approach widely popularised by the likes of Yngwie and Ritchie Blackmore, it’s fast paced and has a soaring feel to it. Piercing leads, dramatic vocals and rapid-fire riffs and rhythm work, it comes across as a full on Euro Metal assault. Shred worthy soloing, dramatic harmony lines and a real epic feel run through the track and after the slight slowdown and serious section it seems things are back to normal, just in time for the title track of the album too. “Mirrorworld” is a dramatic slice of metal from the start. Groove laden with a killer hook to its main riff, it’s got a steady pace to it and plenty of attitude to back it up. Powerful in both vocal and musical delivery, it’s got all the things you expect from a power metal stormer like this – harmony leads, expressive vocals, cutting guitars and a solid rhythmic foundation. Sounding more metal than power, it has a real catchy nature to it and it does show some diversity in the band’s repertoire, but “State Of My Despair” which follows up quickly pulls it back to the expected delivery. Rhythmically strong, having a solid tempo and thick sound to it, the more Scandinavian styled Power Metal approach works well for this track. Using the clean verse with subtle distorted build up which peaks in time for the chorus, it’s a lot like one of the earlier tracks in the album but without the darker edge, instead coming off as powerful more than anything else. Finally, we reach the end of the album and closing track “The Unborn Never Die” wraps it all up. Cutting riffs, slightly venomous in the vocal delivery and more intense than the rest of the album, this philosophically titled track serves as a fitting curtain call. Mixing the classic epic synth and lead intro stylings of melodic power metal and undercurrents of NWOBHM, drawing some slight similarities to Iron Maiden’s ‘Only The Good Die Young’ from the iconic Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son but lacking the venom in the delivery of that track, it’s got good pace to it. Powerful rhythmically but melodic and approachable in a listening sense, it’s a fitting end to a solid album.
Overall, ‘Mirrorworld’ is an improvement on the first offering from this Euro Metal supergroup of sorts. More melodic and with a good flow musically from start to finish, it works well, and it’s sub forty minute length adds to the replay value, ensuring it isn’t too long and allowing far more listens if that is desired. Look into the mirror and break the surface with Serious Black, it’s melodic power metal with some serious kick to it.