Serious Black_As Daylight BreaksWhen I picked up the debut album of Serious Black for review, I knew nothing about this band. What I did know was that the band name Sirius-ly gives me an uncontrollable urge to hunt down Harry Potter and punch him in the fucking face. But once I decided to review this slab of melodic metal, I discovered that this sum bitch is serious-ly special. A new supergroup made up of current and former members of Tad Morose, Masterplan, Blind Guardian, Edenbridge, Dreamscape, and Visions of Atlantis? WTF?! Serious Black includes songwriters and musicians like Roland Grapow (Masterplan), Thomen Stauch (ex-Blind Guardian), and Urban breed (who needs no introduction from me). Supposedly the project was conceived by Mario Lochart (Emergency Gate, ex-Visions of Atlantis), who in turn convinced Grapow to join. After flipping through their rolodexes, they recruited their team and embarked on a collaborative songwriting journey. The result is As Daylight Breaks. Bad band name aside, this all-star band proves – yet again – that judging a book by its cover is just wrong (you were right, Mom).

Rarely do you find an album that flows as well as this – considering all the chiefs under the Serious Black catering tent. It’s also rich in energy and feels effortless from one track to the next. Opener “I Seek No Other Life” is just straight-up, old-school metal with some speed-happy riffage that would make Dio smile. It’s fun, catchy as all hell, and the 3:00 length swings in, slaps you, and is gone before you know what hit you. The best part about the opener is that while it’s good, it only gets better from here. Next track, “High and Low,” is one of the standout tracks on the album and Jan Vacik (ex-Dreamscape) kicks it off with one of the catchiest keyboard intros I’ve heard in a long time. The rest of the band joins the keys with a pounding Masterplan attack that backs off as breed’s vocals surface with an almost Kamelot-like delivery. Goddamn if that chorus didn’t hook me through the cheek.

“High and Low” is a good example of what to expect from the songwriting; alternating between fist-pumping riffs and sustaining chords/speedy licks that sink into the background so Breed’s vocals can rise to the foreground. Other good examples of this are “Sealing My Fate” and “Akhenaton” (this track cannot be listened to without the preceding intro, “Temple of the Sun”). The latter track sounds like something Iced Earth could have incorporated into Something Wicked This Way Comes. Conversely, tracks like the Blind Guardian-meets-Symphony X ditty “My Mystic Mind” and “Trail of Murder” utilize gallops and fast-picking riffs of old. The former fills the voids with lots of keys and a frenzied guitar solo to close it, and the latter is even more straightforward than the opener; it’s short, upbeat, groovy, and makes me want to pull out my old Blind Guardian stuff to hear more Thomen Stauch.

Serious Black_2015

As Daylight Breaks does a great job of mixing it up in its 40-minute length with songs like the Egyptian-themed “Temple of the Sun”/“Akhenaton” and the tear-jerking title track. Much like the beginning of “Sealing My Fate,” “As Daylight Breaks” is filled with sad pianos and Zippo-waving melodies reminiscent of HammerFall and Snowy Shaw-era Dream Evil. For those that dislike full-blown ballads filled with soft piano chords, sad vocal lines, sobbing guitars, Avantasia-like orchestration, and whimsical Nightwish keyboard flurries that are the audial representation of what fairy dust must sound like, then you are going to fucking hate this song. For me, I keep coming back to this damn song over and over again.

On a negative note, the combination of front-and-center vocals and the high compression makes for an ear-ringing experience at high volumes. I didn’t expect this album to have high dynamics, but it definitely would have been nice to hear them with all the orchestration and Breed’s stellar performance. Otherwise, all of these top-notch musicians can be heard as they bring their experiences to the table and take you on an enjoyable, no frills journey through supergroup-dom.

Rating: 4.0/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: AFM Records
Websites: Serious Black Official |
Release Dates: EU: 2014.1.16 | NA: 1.20.2015

  • Solaire

    That intro is cheesy as hell, but when the chorus kicked in I praised the sun so fucking hard.

    • Kryopsis

      The real Serious Black starts here!

  • I love that guy’s voice.

    • One of my metal highlights was seeing both Tad Morose and Morgana Lefay co headline Chicago Powerfest in 2004. The one two punch of Charles Rytkonen and Urban Breed on a small stage was perhaps the best vocal duo I’ve ever seen live!

      • That’s crazy! I would kill to see that double bill.

        • Morgana Lefay will be playing at Powerfest this year in Atlanta. Other headliners this year will be Angra, Anathema, and Riverside. I am excited for all 4!!!

      • Wilhelm

        That’s pretty amazing. I’m jealous.

      • brutal_sushi

        Dude. I hate you.

  • Kryopsis

    A surprising amount of quality Power Metal is coming out this year. Not that I’m complaining.

  • Thatguy

    Gratuitous key changes define cheesy and if the rest of the album is like this track then they will run out of keys……..this ain’t great – can’t be more than 2.5 surely

    • BaboonKing

      Yeah, that key change is certainly cringe worthy. Luckily, the other song available on YouTube sounds much more promising.

      • Thatguy

        Glad to hear that
        I have to confess a general dislike for much power metal and of this style of singing in particular…….but even allowing for the limitations of my taste I can appreciate it when it is done well and I don’t think this is done well

  • Wilhelm

    Urban is a great vocalist, but this is one big ball of uber compressed power metal cheese. His stint in Tad Morose completely levels what I hear here. Sorry for all the negative feedback but my ears hurt.

    • Maybe its just because its been so long since we’ve heard any new Tad Morose, that anything he does seems awesome! :)

      • San Eutocio

        Tad Morose released a new album on 2013, Urban Breed wasn’t on vocals though (ex Steel Attack singer took the vocal duties). It was a dissapointing album by the way :(

        • Wilhelm

          Agreed, it was not too good =(

        • Sorry, thats what I meant….its been a long time since a Tad Morose album with Urban on vocals! :) According to Wikipedia, the last one was 2003. My favorite however, was “A Mended Rhyme”. I have fond memories of that album!

          • San Eutocio

            Mine is Matters of the Dark. And that latest 2003 Modus Vivendi was great too :D

      • Greg Hasbrouck

        Urban released Trail of Murder, in collaboration with Daniel (Tad Morose) in 2011. I think that’s a better album than this.

        • Trail of Murder is far better. We reviewed it a while back. Great stuff like a mix of Bloodbound and Tad Morose.

  • AnnieK13

    Hello my name is Annie and I’m a power metal addict…

    Yes, I pre-ordered this!

  • Feeblejocks

    … and wouldn’t you know, I found my 80s throwback metal fix. This sounds awesome, and is giving me great HammerFall / Blind Guardian vibes. Power Metal to the rescue again!

  • El Lado Oscuro

    Not a 4, but the best effort among recents ‘superbands’. Maybe a 3 for me. Good review

  • Tanuki

    It seems a bit to generic for my tastes.
    But mostly I’m just disappointed by the lack of Jorn

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    Could be back to back power metal for this months honour roll

  • Feytalist

    Haha oh man that keyboard line.

    This comes close to exceeding my weekly cheese allowance, but it’s pretty damn good anyway. The drumming in particular is excellent, but that’s what you get with someone like Thomen Stauch wielding the sticks.

    Album cover is awesome, too.

  • I have enjoyed 3 power metal releases in a single month. I can’t remember that happening in… well, since I discovered the genre!

    Though, man. Can we please start producing power metal differently?!

    • I know, right! Im usually happy to get 3 good power metal albums in a YEAR!!! Are there ANY examples of power metal with good dynamic range? Or does power metal and brickwall always go hand in hand?

    • Ben Mccullough

      I miss that Divine Wings of Tragedy majestic feeling.

    • Troy Putland

      As a power/meoldic metal lover, what else would you recommend that’s similar to Kamelot and Sabaton? Keep up the awesome reviews!

  • Alexandre Barata

    So much cheese I thought they were french

  • James Ingold

    Enjoyed the embedded song but those guitars are so processed they may as well not be real instruments. Kinda ruins it for me. I may circle around for another listen later though; it sounds like a lot of fun!

  • Noobhammer

    Holy shit. Immediately a smile spread wide across my face as soon as that cheese hit, but god dammit, did I not love every second of it.

    It is so great to hear Thomen “The Omen” Stauch behind the kit again. He has always been one of my favorite drummers. The Blind Guardian albums with him are my faves. Especially “Imaginations from the Other Side”

  • brutal_sushi

    Is 2015 the year for killer power metal?!

  • Our Fortress Is Burning

    Please no.

  • Realkman666

    Cringed and lowered volume, but it’s catchy enough. Maybe live, I guess. Barely recognized Roland, too.