After releasing two albums in 2017 (‘Magic’ and the acoustic record ‘First Light’) the German/American outfit Serious Black took an 18 month break to recharge the individual batteries, write new songs and welcome new drummer Ramy Ali. Here they are in early 2020 with a fresh concept record. Singer Urban Breed and his three mates have written a concept dealing about a man suffering from mental health. He is confused and torn between his own dream world and reality. That sounds a bit like the life of yours truly, as I am always on a (musical) journey between heaven and hell…. No, just joking. ‘Suite 226’ is most certainly the most versatile record in the career of this group. Sure, the bulk of the songs are describable as melodic power metal with at times furious pace as one of the main ingredients. Opener ,,Let Me Go’’ is for starters a band fully focussed on power metal galore with Urban Breed leading the way. But you will find that as you explore the album further and further that in comparison with earlier material Serious Black sounds heavier and harder but at stages also a lot more versatile and even subtle. That acoustic album ‘First Light’ obviously taught the musicians that scaling back in gear can have its advantage. Listen for instance to ,,Fate Of All Humanity’’, where the pace goes down, Urban sings more laid back and the result is quite stunning. Or the very subtle ballad ,,Welcome Home’’ that for me is an absolute masterpiece and shows a completely different side of Serious Black and their vocalist. But the song that impresses most is without a doubt ,,Suite 226’’, a 8.40 minute long epic track with several mood swings, heavy and fast parts and built in more laid back atmospheric pieces. It seems to go all over the place but is a song that has been thought about. The break has done Serious Black a lot of good. They have come back with an inspirational, adventurous and most enjoyable CD, in my humble opinion the best in their career. Fans of power metal and melodic rock that are familiar with earlier material of Serious Black must most certainly try this one for good measure!
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