I am not a Music Journalist. I am not even a Journalist. Heck, I am not even that knowledgeable about modern metal. This is also the ONLY Serenity album I have listened to thus far - it is their latest. I do know what I like, though, and I really like this album. I do think that some of the pieces are repetitive in construction, but the lyrics and musical skill more than make up for this for me. I am not sure how Thomas Buchberger is going to recreate his layered guitar sound on stage, but Im willing to watch and be impressed. Mario Hirzinger is a keyboardist I really look forward to watching and I dont spend a lot of time watching keyboardists. My favorite part of this album is Serenitys ability to weave a tapestry of songs about prominent historical figures not just retelling a story, but getting into the characters emotions and motivations. Explorers, Rogues, Artists, Royalty all are captured in song in a way that made this one-time history student sit up and take notice. Set Sail To (Intro)/New Horizons Epic sounding intro, complete with nautical sound effects interlacing with rapid bass riffs, double kicks beating into your brain and abruptly shifts to the piano heavy New Horizons, an interesting Historical Fiction piece telling the tale of Sir Francis Drake. This is a theme throughout this album 14th 18th century themes and putting them to some catchy, thumpy hard rock. The pianos in this piece are quickly supplanted by some nice guitar licks and melodic metal organ. The Chevalier Neuhausers vocals are rarely covered by instrumentals, probably due to the story each song tells. This is true as well for Ailyns (SIRENIA) part in this song, depicting the affair between a Lady and Casanova. Piano heavy during the interludes, guitars take back over during the rousing chorus. Far from Home This piece opens as a Power Metal classic: intertwining guitars, driving beats, and then the story begins I suspect the attempt by Bartolomeo Dias to travel from Lisbon to India. Beautiful guitar solo precedes the Crews Choir demanding the ships return to Portugal. Neuhauser captures the lament of Dias at having to abandon the quest prior to completion. Heavenly Mission Serenitys tale of the end of the Templars begins with a haunting intro. This is one of the many songs on this album which could really benefit from an actual symphony the keyboards are done very well, but violins, cellos, timpani and horns would be epic. When the symphonic parts arent playing, this is one of the simpler musical pieces but less is more. This song is all about the story of Grand Master Jacques de Molay, burned at the stake before Notre Dame in 1314. Solos are poignant, but not overly complex or fast. Prayer (Interlude) Church bells, choral chanting, Prayer in Spanish or Portuguese (sorry I cant discern the difference). Quite beautiful, but not sure of the point. State of Siege Slow keyboard buildup to a snare and fife (keyboard) tattoo, slowly increasing in tempo, complexity and volume. Guitars begin with catchy hooks, keyboard switching to thunderous chords only to abruptly halt for Neuhauser to begin to tell the tale of Cortez Conquistadores as they watch the native Aztecs turn on the Spanish adventurers. Vocal range is stretched pretty far on this song successfully. The use of the choral canon prior to the ending choruses wasbrilliantly done, and I had to go back and listen to it 3-4 times because it was simply that cool. Changing Fate Another song about Sir Francis Drake beautiful guitar (pseudo-classical arrangement) begins this piece appropriate for a tale of a sailor who abused the Spanish for decades. This is the first ballad of the album. Amanda Somerville provides the vocals for Queen Elizabeth I. This song focuses on Drakes perceived failures towards the end of his career, when England had a fear of a reorganized Spanish Armada. Gone is the optimism of New Horizons Drake is now pleading for a final chance to serve his Queen. The love story between Drake and the Queen is told well by these voices. When Canvas Starts to Burn For anyone who thinks that the first five songs were repetitive in style, this song and its predecessor break from that mold. This song makes me think of Da Vinci, but some aspects are inconsistent with that Artists life. Regardless, the vocal variety, the rapid tempo, the darker sound is refreshing at this point in the album. Serenade of Flames The dark sounding instrumentals continue, feedback and buzzy amps and then everything gets clean for lead vocals. Not that I mind, since this is the duet with Charlotte Wessels. Unlike the striking counterpoint Charlottes and Markos voices have in Control the Storm, Georg and Charlotte have voices that blend together beautifully. Im tempted to believe this is a recount of Joan of Arcs conversation with Cardinal Henry Beaufort prior to her execution. It could also be a recount of any witchs trial, given the reference to Malleus Maleficarum. The orchestration certainly helps one imagine the power, wrath, and inhuman cruelty of the medieval Catholic Church. Youngest of Widows Distortion and reverb is used in this tale of the life of Mary Queen of Scots. I can imagine heads bobbing in the pit, fists pounding in the air during this track only to be brought up short by the piano solo that comes out of nowhere then heads start banging again when the guitar solo hits, followed by the well-written and performed Chorus. This seems to be one of the shorter pieces, but catchy lyrics and upbeat rhythm make it easy to hit repeat. Below Eastern Skies (Interlude) These guys listened to Orphaned Land while smoking a hookah, and put together a neat little diversion here. Credits are given to Edenbridges Lanvall, so I presume the female chanting/vocals are from Sabine. Beyond Desert Sands The derision and disbelief for Marco Polos tales are captured as the traveler recounts the marvels he has seen and had ridiculed. Even higher energy than in Youngest of Widows, guitar work is soaring, transitions are seamless, and you can imagine hearing Polo recount his tale while in prison. To Indias Shores Driving rock anthem describing Columbus desire to reach India on behalf of Isabella. Breaks from guitar shrieks are provided by violin and soft keyboards. Chorus is longer than any verse, and can be a bit repetitive, especially since the song returns to the systematic nature of the first several offerings on the album. Great story, though, and performed well. Lament (Interlude) We now embrace another soliloquy in a Romance Language this time in Italian by bass player Fabio DAmore. My Legacy This song needs about 6 violins, 4 cellos, and a chorus in robes giving background it is that cool. Serenity has spent many of these songs telling the tales of famous historical figures from their own points of view typically in retrospect after they have fallen from grace. My Legacy is Galileo Galilei questioning what an astronomer does when blind and surrounded by the closed-mindedness of the Geocentric Catholic Church. This song is simply too damned short.