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Automaton's music can be roughly and vaguely- labelled atmospheric sludgy Doom , or, for lack of a more accurate description, Post-Doom . It...
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Serenity : Then Came Silence

I am still nonplussed as to why many fans of emotional, atmospheric doom metal do not like this band. The best excuse that most can muster is that Daniel Savage, the vocalist, cannot sing in key. Nonetheless, I have been a fan of this CD and the absolutely choking black mood that it creates for years, and I have never once been bothered by Savage's purported tunelessness. Taken in context with the sluggish, incredibly crushing rhythms and unearthly melodies created by underrated guitarist Lee Baines, the miserable moaning of Savage undeniably fits the traditional doom ambience of Serenity's music.

The CD begins with 'Black Tears', and begins rather inauspiciously, at that. Yet not terribly far into what seemingly is a standard traditional doom anthem, the drums and bass drop out, leaving the guitars locked in harmony reminiscent of old Anathema's warm phrasings. Such an abrupt shift from the 'Sabbath/Trouble-influenced harshness to sheer atmospheric beauty is an unexpected, but welcome turn, and lends to the overall feeling of hopelessness and despair. The entirety of this CD features similar shifts between the tranquil and brutal, but still maintains a sense of modality which literally screams "doom metal".

'Change' is an extremely short piece, and is not too bad as far as ballads go, save for the fact that the main acoustic riff is a carbon copy of a riff in Novembre's 'The White-Eyed', off of an album released two years prior to Serenity's. It is too similar to be a coincidence.

Moving along to the title track, the listener is battered with sluggish, relentlessly somber metal riffing, and a similar drumless chorus to 'Black Tears'. The centerpiece of the album, though, is 'The Darkest Things'. The chorus riff to this song is so chilling and memorable that it warrants recognition, and is just a seconds-long example of why Serenity deserves your attention. My only overarching complaint is that after 'The Darkest Things', the album ceases to be as interesting as the first four songs. It is as if the band spent all of their emotional energy on the first four songs, and somehow neglected to maintain the same level of quality for the remaining songs. Yet the album as a whole has just enough darkness and despond to satisfy any die-hard doom fan.

If I were to compare Serenity to more well-known acts, I would bill them as a marriage between the sounds of Solitude Aeturnus and older Anathema. Ironically, a rumor once abounded that Serenity guitarist Lee Baines was to try out to replace Anathema's Vincent Cavanagh, leaving Vincent to concentrate on vocal duties. One could only wonder what intense guitar harmonies Daniel and Lee could have concocted together!

All in all, I would definitely recommend 'Then Came Silence' for fans of English '90s doom/death and traditional '80s doom metal, for this CD is about as close to a happy medium between the two sub-genres as one is going to get.

Reviewer's rating: Unrated


Tracklist :
1. Black Tears
2. Change
3. Then Came Silence
4. The Darkest Things
5. Spirituality
6. One For the Red Sky
7. I Am With You

Duration : Approx. 41 minutes.

Visit the Serenity bandpage.

Reviewed on ??-??-???? by Ryan Henry
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