I must admit I hadn’t heard much of SERENITY until now. However, I consider myself quite familiar with the genre of symphonic/progressive power metal. Thus, I was quite aware of what to expect.
I cannot say that “Codex Atlanticus” is a record that will fascinate you with its originality, in the first place. In fact, you will hear things, that will remind you of many other bands, especially SONATA ARCTICA and KAMELOT, two bands that most of SERENITY’s influences are drawn from. On the other hand, due to the good quality of the songwriting, you will probably overview this minor flaw.
Chris Tian’s guitar work is one of the most prevalent elements in the album. His chunky riffs combined with smart and melodic leads, are nicely blending with the orchestral samples and choral parts, creating a grandiose and uplifting scenery. The rhythm section is also quite heavy and tight, creating a solid base for the rest of the band to lean on.
The rest of the band provides backing vocals, along with the two guest appearances, by Amanda Sommerville (Aina, HDK, Kiske/Sommerville) and Natascha Koch. Neuhauser, though, stands out above all others, with his strong passionate performances on vocals. Sounding like a well-balanced mixture of Roy Khan (ex-Conception, ex-Kamelot) and Tobias Sammet (Edguy, Avantasia).
After the theatrical intro, with the title track and the cheerful feeling of “Follow Me”, things get heavier with the “Sprouts Of Terror”, one of the most notable tracks. While “Caught In A Myth” and “Spirit In The Flesh”, are probably the highlights of “Codex Atlanticus”. The first standing out with its dark lyrics and galloping tempo, and the second featuring Neuhauser’s best performance on this album.
Bottom line, SERENITY deliver a decent and solid record, that both new and longtime followers of the band, and fans of the genre in general, will enjoy. Especially, for the new followers (like me), “Codex Atlanticus” is a good starting point, to explore the Austrians’ discography. Nowadays, the talented and interesting symphonic/progressive power metal bands are few, and SERENITY is one of them.
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