Review: Serious Black – Vengeance Is Mine

Review: Serious Black – Vengeance Is Mine

AFM Records (February 25th, 2022)

Reviewer: Jason Hopper

Melodic Metallers Serious Black have returned with their fifth album and their first with new singer Nikola Mijić, longtime singer for Eden’s Curse. I own three other albums from the band and was disappointed to hear the band would no longer be fronted by Urban Breed. I loved him in his prior band Bloodbound and bought the Serious Black debut ‘As Daylight Breaks‘ as soon as I found out he was in the band. A change in singers can be detrimental to a band’s survival in most case. I’m happy to report that’s not the case here.

Dare I say it, but I prefer the vocal stylings of Nicola Mijić over Urban Breed for this new material. It sounds like he is doing his best to channel Avantasia/Edguy singer Tobias Sammet in what could arguably be described as a more angry, darker version of Edguy. While it may not sound like the Serious Black debut album, it’s as solid as that album was and is much better than other albums in their catalog like the disappointing ‘Mirrorworld‘.

Vengeance Is Mine‘ is an album full of the theatrical metal bombast for which the band has been known with some of the best songs the band has ever recorded. It opens up with lead single ‘Rock With Us Tonight’, not the most lyrically groundbreaking song, but what it lacks in originality it makes up for in craftmanship as the band showcases its tightness and ferocity. The kind of song that makes you feel the title and believe in their cause. From there, the album takes you for quite a ride.

Out of the Ashes’, ‘Fallen Hero’, and ‘Senso Della Vita’ (which translates to “Meaning of Life” but sounds better when sung in Italian) follow next in order and all these songs show the band to be in top form. Powerful, melodic vocals with heavy riffs to match. First class Euro metal all the way.

My favorite songs from the album are clustered together in the middle. ‘Tonight I’m Ready to Fight’ sounds like the best song Nightwish never wrote and seems inspired by their song ‘Bye Bye Beautiful’. A truly kick-ass endeavor. Strumming a closed E power chord is very cliché but there’s a reason it’s in so many songs, it just sounds great. When incorporated into a song like this with a strong, steady beat and lyrics about fighting, it’s perfection. ‘Soldiers of Eternal Light’ adds some power metal components with chants to open the song, choral vocal effects in a chorus heard on countless power metal albums and a smattering of double bass thrown in for good measure. Cliches be damned I still loved it!

Finally, there’s the power metal ballad ‘The Story’, a wedding song for metal heads who hate wedding songs. It could arguably be considered the strongest song on the album.  The song sounds similar to Avantasia with its theatrical, varying tempos. It conveys heartfelt emotion that is quite different from every other song and showcases Nicola’s best vocal performance.

There are a few critiques. ‘Ray of Light’, the other power metal ballad on the album, is the weakest track. The death metal growlings in the middle took what was an average song and drove it straight into the ground. The album loses some steam towards the end with tracks that are weaker than the ones that came before it.

Minor criticism for what is essentially a great album. As stated previously, your love for this album may depend on singer preferences and some may say that this album does not have the Serious Black sound. I don’t hold legacy grudges and tend to judge songs and albums on their own merits. I can say equivocally that this album is simply a great metal album. Please put all biases aside and check out this awesome collection of tracks.