The professor has returned with another tale meticulously researched from history and matched with the perfect symphonic soundscape. Serenity capitalizes on a fledgling stale symphonic metal scene by just going out an creating the best that the subgenre can offer. On "Lionheart" it certainly isn't about reinventing or adding modern elements, but rediscovery. There is an instrument that has been beaten down and whitewashed out of this subgenre for the past half decade. It is a device so powerful that if it is wielded property, it has the ability to destroy all before it and Serenity found it stuck in stone looking similar to something taken from a Metal Church cover.....the guitar. It hath returned and the band continues its an even more powerful assault up the ranks of the worlds finest bands.
Don't take the lighthearted emphasis on guitar to mean that Serenity stripped down what has made it what it is. All of the symphonic elements in all their bombastic glory are in full force, engulfed in the topic of the album - the famed Richard I. Serenity maintains a staunch record in creating some of the best soundscapes to accompany the lyrical stories and while "Lionheart" isn't necessarily a "concept album" in a linear time sense, it does draw some of the best tales from the life of Richard I and is able to create the perfect soundtrack. Perfect examples are "Rising High," where you can hear Richard rallying the Crusaders; "Lionheart," the perfect tribute to the man and legend and the albums best soundscape - "Eternal Victory" where the chorus rolls with the stormy seas.
Now back to the guitar...which Christian Hermsdörfer brings with authority in both riffs and compelling solos. Get a load of "Empire," "Lionheart" the brilliantly crunchy "Stand And Fight," where the mighty Fabio D'Amore (bass) gets to show off his fantastic vocals, and the album's heaviest - "The Fortress (Of Blood and Sand." Hermsdörfer also offers his death metal backing vocals on the grand finale, "The Final Crusade."
It wouldn't be a Serenity album without some female guest stars and soulful ballads and on "Lionheart" you will find two rising stars - Sleeping Romane's Federica Lanna, who comes in towards the later half of "The Final Crusade" and Faun's Katja Moslehner on the stunning Celtic ballad "Heaven."
Where "Lionheart" ranks compared with the previous effort "Codex Atlanticus" all depends on whether you prefer more or less orchestration. For those seeking a more guitar driven release, "Lionheart" is the album for you, as the band showcases it in spades without losing any of the symphonic beauty Serenity has been known for. Oh Neuhauser, my Neuhauser.