Review: Serious Black “Suite 226” [AFM Records]

Review: Serious Black “Suite 226” [AFM Records]

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Since their founding in 2014 Serious Black surprised with their fertility, releasing an album every year. It’s a lot, taking into account that some of the band’s members not only play in other bands but also live in different countries. However after release of Magic and First Light it 2017 the band fell silent for a long time. And now they come back with their new album Suite 226.

Actually there were some valid reasons for such a long silence: Serious Black worked on new concepts, new songs, built their own studio and changed the line-up. Now the band is a quartet: Urban Breed (vocal), Dominik Sebastian (guitar), Mario Lochert (bass) and Ramy Ali (drums).

In the new album the band stepped back from otherworldly things and magic stories. Suite 226 tells a complete narrative of a mentally confused man who is torn between his own dreamworld, reality and the evil. In real life the protagonist has been held captive for many years in this dismal, cold padded cell number 226. The inhuman condition of the rotten psychiatry has driven him to total distraction. In his imagination he is the mighty king who lives in his feudal castle, surrounded by courtesans, good food and wine, commands an invincible army. Staggering between illusion and reality, he continues to be drawn into the maelstrom of madness; his life becomes a ride through purgatory, accompanied by demons, anxiety attacks and paranoia.

It would seem that the music should be various and multifaceted with such interesting concept but no! Musically, Suite 226 is quite smooth, melodic Power Metal with lots keyboards, quite heavy riffs and melodic choruses. The only song that step away from some “patterns” is self-titled ending track “Suite 226”. In almost nine minutes it changes the mood and tempo a couple of times, going from ballad to quite fast Power and from melancholy to some bright emotions. Add some female vocals here that create a “dialogue” with Urban Breed and you will get a vivid, multi-layered track. It’s too bad that it’s only one here.

With this, the album can’t be called boring, at list its first half. The opener “Let It Go” sounds fast and heavy, perfectly showing what to expect from the album. “When The Stars Are Right” and “Solitude Etude” have some great keyboards, which take the songs to some Symphonic Metal a little bit and really good, catchy choruses. Quite melancholic and very “radio friendly” song “Fate Of All Humanity” is a great sample of nostalgia for 70-80s.

At the same time, something strange happens with the second half of Suite 226. These songs can’t be called bad, musicians didn’t started to play worse and the quality of record wasn’t changed at all, but somehow it don’t work anymore. It doesn’t cause any emotions: I listened to these songs a couple of times, trying to find at least something in them but I failed. I listened to the second part of the album with a poker face, hardly overwhelming the will to skip the track or put the last one on. Maybe it’s only my problem, I don’t know, but the fact is that these songs somehow just passing by.

But despite the things I wrote above, Suite 226 is qualitative and strong work (at least its first part). It is heavy, melodic; there is some interesting arranging, catchy choruses and powerful vocals. This album is weaker than its predecessor Magic, there are some lacks but I don’t think it’s a reason to be disappointed in the band. Rather it’s a reason to wait for the next album.

Suite 226 was released on January, 31th via AFM Records.

You can buy Suite 226 here – https://amzn.to/2Sd8ZyW

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