Serenade - _The 28th Parallel_
(Deviation Records, 1996)
by: Alain M. Gaudrault (6 out of 10)
Their label calls them "progressive doomrock", and while the band, comprised of John Alexander on vocals, Gerry Magee and Fraser McGartland on guitars, Stephen Mitchell on bass, and Graeme McGartland on drums, prefers not to be labeled, I can't say that it isn't a fitting description of the music composed by this Glasgow-based outfit. Combining doom, death, plenty of Iron Maiden, and 90s prog metal stylings, Serenade are out to write epics. On their first full-length album, they chose a concept album format "based on the voyages of Christopher Columbus and the discovery of the Americas" (from The Crypt Fanzine, see Writer's Wrath). Pretty strange move for a Scottish act to delve so deeply into Spanish history, but delve they did through songs such as "Introduction: 1492", "Oceans of Despair", and "Eden After the Fall". Thin guitar sound aside, I found the tone of the greater part of the music somewhat same-y, although relatively complex and intricate, rendering it mildly enjoyable to listen to. What will keep me from ever listening to this album again, though, are the truly horrid vocals. Part death growl, part clean, and occasionally spoken, I can't begin to explain just how poorly sung this material is. I'll give Alexander a few points for effort, but basically, his growling voice is monotonous, weak, and directionless. What's more, they just don't seem to mesh well with the accompanying music. His clean vocals are even worse, grating sorely on my nerves whenever they come up, being off key, and lacking in control. With a singer having such a poor grasp of melody and harmony, and lyricist(s) with such a lack of depth and sense for the poetic, these Dream Theater/Queensryche aficionados will be hard-pressed to attract the same type of audience, if that's remotely what they're after. Despite there being so few Scottish metal acts, I'm sad to say I can't much recommend this release other than to those who are more forgiving of such singing limitations.

Contact: SERENADE, 19 Castlehill Drive, Newton Mearns

(article published 18/11/1996)

9/1/2002 Q Kalis 7.5 Serenade - The Serpent's Dance
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