Published on October 27th, 2016 | by Justin G.
Serious Black: Mirrorworld
Multi-national melodic metal supergroup Serious Black came seemingly out of nowhere with their 2015 debut As Daylight Breaks, an album that (deservedly) graced a lot of “best of 2015” lists. Not wasting any time, they’re back with a follow-up, titled Mirrorworld.
There have been some changes to the Serious Black roster since As Daylight Breaks, most notably the departure of guitarist Roland Grapow, who has been replaced by Bob Katsionis (Firewind/Outloud). Thomen Stauch is out on drums as well, with Alex Holzwarth (ex-Rhapsody of Fire) stepping in. Vocalist Urban Breed (ex-Bloodbound, ex-Tad Morose), guitarist Dominik Sebastian (Edenbridge), keyboardist Jan Vacik (ex-Dreamscape) and bassist Mario Lochert (Emergency Gate) remain on board for Mirrorworld.
Serious Black had a tough job here. Not only did they have to follow up an extremely strong debut album, but they had to do that without Roland Grapow, who is such a major songwriting talent at this kind of melodic metal. For the most part, they’ve succeeded. Mirrorworld is a very strong album that fans of the debut should enjoy. It suffers a bit in that the melodies are not as instantly memorable as they were on As Daylight Breaks. That was an album where you could sing along with just about any song the first time through. Aside from “Castor Skies,” these songs don’t have that same instant impact. That’s not to say they aren’t strong; they just take a few spins to really sink in. Once they do, “As Long As I’m Alive,” “Dying Hearts” the title track and “The Unborn Never Die” in particular all become favorites.
In terms of musicianship, Mirrorworld is every bit as strong as As Daylight Breaks. Katsionis is a more than capable replacement for Grapow, and he and Sebastian turn in some terrific riffs and melodies. Likewise, they don’t miss a beat (pun intended) adding Holzwarth to the drum kit. And of course, any album with Urban Breed on vocals already has an incredible advantage. He brings a fantastic sense of power and emotion to these songs, and just seems so much more “at home” in Serious Black than he did in any of his other post-Tad Morose projects.
If there’s a downside to this album, it’s that Mirrorworld is a very short album. At least the proper album is, with just nine songs totaling a mere 36 minutes. As with the debut though, that’s only part of the experience. The deluxe CD version of Mirrorworld comes in a digipack and features a whopping seven additional tracks, effectively cancelling out any complaints about the album’s brevity. Five of the bonus tracks are full-on studio songs, and two are acoustic versions of songs from As Daylight Breaks. They do a great job of rounding out the album and making it a more satisfying experience. “State of My Despair” and “Hello Moon” in particular are as strong (if not stronger) than anything on the main album. You definitely want to spend a little extra to get this version of Mirrorworld.
Mirrorworld may not have the same immediate magic that the Serious Black debut had, but it’s still a very strong follow-up, and a very strong melodic metal album overall. If you enjoyed As Daylight Breaks, you will absolutely enjoy this album. And if you’re new to Serious Black but enjoy the bands that merge melodic and power metal – especially Masterplan, Jorn, Pretty Maids and even Vanden Plas – Mirrorworld is well worth checking out.
Summary: It takes a few spins, but this is a fantastic melodic metal album overall.