Nemesis AD

rating icon 7.5 / 10

Track listing:

01. Memoriae Alberti Dureri
02. The Fall of Man (feat. Roy Khan)
03. Ritter, Tod und Teufel (Knightfall)
04. Soldiers Under the Cross
05. Reflections (of AD)
06. Sun of Justice
07. Nemesis
08. The End of Babylon
09. Crowned By an Angel
10. The Sky Is Our Limit
11. The Fall of Man (Orchestral Version)

It takes much talent and resolve to stand out in an overcrowded power metal marketplace, but SERENITY have plenty of both. Meticulous narrators of historical and fantasy tales, the Austrians are more progressive than the upbeat norm, and unusually gifted when it comes to writing soaring, dramatic melodies. Recent albums like 2017's "Lionheart" and 2020's "The Last Knight" have been hugely enjoyable, largely because the band's broad-minded approach has enabled them to keep evolving, rather than simply sticking to the power metal script.

"Nemesis AD" is another historically obsessed affair, inspired by the life and times of Albrecht Dürer, a 15th century painter, printmaker and philosopher who was integral to the German Renaissance and, apparently, a contemporary of Maximilian I, the Roman Emperor upon whose life "The Last Knight" was based. Even if the music sucked, one could reasonably argue that SERENITY are providing an educational service here.

Fortunately, "Nemesis AD" continues on from its predecessors in musical terms too. From the opulent bombast of "The Fall of Man" (featuring guest vocals from kindred spirit Roy Khan, ex-KAMELOT) onwards, SERENITY demonstrate a refined ear for the natural flow of a conceptual record. With lavish arrangements and a production job that renders everything in cinematic colors, this can clearly not be faulted for sonic standards. Pleasingly, these are all songs that aim to live up to their extravagant surroundings.

"Ritter, Tod und Teufel (Knightfall)" and "Soldiers Under the Cross" are object lessons in economical songcraft: both contain melodic multitudes and many layers of synchronized sound, but it is their big melodies delivered by SERENITY frontman Georg Neuhauser that tie it all together into neat, four-minute anthems. The band's innate theatricality is given more room on "Reflections (of AD)" : a multi-part odyssey with at least three huge, melodic payoffs that classily unfold as a strong whiff of Broadway musicals permeates the pomp. At an indulgent eight minutes, it amounts to a grand centerpiece, but "Nemesis AD" has a momentum that endures to the end.

"Sun of Justice" is a straightforward, melodic metal rabble-rouser and arguably the kind of song that SERENITY could write in their sleep, but "Nemesis" is a real gem: dark, edgy and progressive, it crams an absurd amount of ideas into its four minutes. Equally riveting are "The End of Babylon" — a grandiloquent, stately set-piece with a sumptuous AOR sheen — and bruised ballad "Crowned By an Angel"; while the closing "The Sky Is Our Limit" is the ideal, overwrought way to end an album as rich in detail and dynamics as this one. "Nemesis AD" is another strong showing from one of power metal's most consistent bands, and a top-tier example of how big, bold and satisfying this genre can be when executed by the experts.

Author: Dom Lawson
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