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4.0 1
CD Reviews CE Central Electronic Brain August 21, 2011 12221
Serpentine - Living & Dying In High Definition
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Review by Woody
The second album from the Serp’s features Tony Mills (Shy/TNT) on vocals for the last time and this album comes out at a transitional point for the band. A new singer has already been found in Matt Black who is of a similar age to the rest of this very young band and I predict a very bright future for this band. The Serp’s once again have recorded the album at Mad Hat studio’s in Wolverhampton.

I still love the debut album from these guys, but I found when talking about it opinions were polar opposites people either loved it like I did or hated it viciously one person even telling me “It’s not a nice album really is it!”, the music seemed to have no grey area with people. Whilst I stand by my assessment of the debut album and still regularly crank it up and sing along to “In My Blood” I have listened to people’s criticisms of it and see where people are coming from but it doesn’t change my mind. I think perhaps the album was a little too safe for some people and Mills was accused of “Sleep Walking” during the writing process of the album.

I don’t think the same criticism’s can be aimed at “Living & Dying In High Definition”! Tony really pulls out all the stops in his contribution to the song writing on this new album and he has crafted some wonderfully beautiful vocal melodies. Tony’s swan song with the Serp’s definitely sees him bowing out with a bang and he adds to that by delivering a more measured vocal performance. The safe element has definitely been booted out the door as musically the band has really carved out their own sound and their influences are less obvious as previously.

Gaz Noon has probably put in the stand out performance on this album, with his keyboard work been less “Asia” influenced and his playing sees him grow far more in his own style and his playing seems more confident. He has laid down some extremely memorable keyboard riffs and licks which gives a lot of power to many of these songs which just wouldn’t have shone half as much without them. That’s not meant as any disrespect to the remaining members Chris Gould (Guitars), Gareth Vanstone (Bass) & Roy Millward (Drums) who have probably done the most to carve the bands own sound out creating a thumping and crunching backbone to all the songs. This album sees the band take a heavier stance and it really suits them and that heavier stance is provided by the backbone of this band.

Spot on choice for album opener “Deep Down (There’s A Price For Love)” is a driving rocker with a wicked keyboard riff from Noon. Tony’s multi layered soaring vocals are outstanding on this! There is some excellent keyboard moments combined with a thumping backbeat creating a really infectious song. “Philadelphia” is a full force rocker with a fantastic back beat and a crunching guitar riff from Gould. It has a stunning melodic chorus which sticks with you making this an instant hit! “Dreamer” shows off the bands new heavier stance really well complete with galloping bass line. The lush vocal harmonies on this track are immense. Heavy yet highly melodic!

The Serp’s first original ballad “Love is Blue” is a bit of a corker which features some great guitar playing from Gould. Noon’s keyboards really give this song some real emotive power and Mill’s vocals are suitably melancholic on the huge chorus. “Where Do We Go From Here” features more killer key’s from Noon! It’s an instant sing along song which I’m sure will become a staple of their live set! “Cry” is an anthemic melodic beauty with an addictive and lush chorus. A song chock full of delicious melodies and I absolutely love this song which also sees Tony’s vocals shine!

“Best Days Of Our Lives” has a powerful emotive keyboard riff which drives the opening of this song and it’s another one that delivers instant gratification. It’s another sing along with lots of hook filled harmony vocals and upfront keyboard licks. “Heartbreak Town” is a driving rocker with some crunching hook filled guitar riffs. The urgent chorus packs a punch and will get your head nodding. “Nuremberg” is another song with an urgent and punchy chorus. The energy of this song really makes it stand out and Noon’s keyboards are beautifully littered throughout this song – there’s even a great keyboard solo in the mid section! “Forgotten Heroes” closes the album and although the lyrics are quite jovial it doesn’t stop this song been an unforgettable tune. With Its anthemic sing along chorus, stellar vocal melodies and fantastic keyboard licks we get another Serp’s classic!

I absolutely love this album and it is even better than the debut, it may be heavier but it still delivers to us more Anthemic AOR songs full of lush melodies and sing along choruses, everything that we have come to expect from the Serp’s. An essential purchase for Melodic Rock fans! Now with the fun loving and charismatic Matt Black taking up the mic, I predict a very long and exciting future for the Serp’s.

Track Listing: Deep Down (There’s A Price For Love) / Philadelphia / Dreamer / Love Is Blue / Where Do We Go From Here / Cry / Best Days Of Our Lives / Heartbreak Town / Nuremberg / Forgotten Heroes

Album Rating: 9/10

Woody’s Essential Track: Cry

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