Serotonal - _Monumental - Songs of Misery and Hope_
(Union Black Records, 2010)
by: Pedro Azevedo (8 out of 10)
Well, this is a bit of a surprise, consdering Serotonal's debut EP _The Futility of Trying to Avoid the Unavoidable_. The level of intensity has been noticeably increased on this full-length debut _Monumental_, and the result is better than expected.

Serotonal's main calling card is the presence of ex-Anathema frontman Darren White as their vocalist. A great many years have passed since his time with Anathema, and indeed since his subsequent involvement with The Blood Divine. In fact, I'm not sure whether there is some double entendre when Darren bellows "Do you remember me?" during "Wasteland"; I'm probably reading too much into the lyrics, but yes Darren, we do remember you -- those of us who were into doom metal in the '90s, at least -- and your return in such vibrant form is very welcome indeed.

I was surprised by Darren's relatively low-key return on _The Futility of Trying to Avoid the Unavoidable_, but based on _Monumental_ it seems unlikely that things will stay that way much longer. Despite a couple of less remarkable, standard metallic numbers (e.g. "Chaosmind" and "Hinge"), _Monumental_ often justifies its subtitle "Songs of Misery and Hope" in considerable style, with a good mix of aggression and emotion in some very accomplished tracks (e.g. "Unseen", "Wasteland", "Monumental"). Only a tendency to be a little hit and miss prevents a higher rating here, but things get really good frequently enough that this is not too much of a problem.

Full of energy and feeling, _Monumental_ is a solid album as far as the instrumental side goes; but with the at times spine-tingling vocals Darren White has provided, it becomes one of the most unexpectedly enjoyable albums I've heard in recent times.


(article published 10/10/2010)

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