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Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Review: Serenius - Cocoon


Serenius is a melodic death metal band from Paris, France. Founded in 2006 by Larry Etienne and Jeremy Plantaz, it has had a turbulent past. After having several line-up changes it went through a split-up after releasing two full-length albums called ‘Coming From Serenius’ (2010) and ‘Equilibrium’ (2012) and playing a boatload of live shows. Vocalist and guitarist Larry decided to keep Serenius alive and managed to form a line-up with both new and earlier members. Keeping up the tradition Serenius’ line-up still is very unstable, switching members at an alarming rate. Next to Larry the current line-up consists of Louis Borel on guitar and Cyril Gromoff on drums. According to the accompanying info sheet the position of bass player is vacant at the moment after the departure of Antoine Ambert, although on their Facebook page they state their bassist is Loïc Gallo. Apparently Serenius thrives on instability, because despite all their personnel changes they managed to compose a third full-length called ‘Cocoon’, which will be released in May this year.

Up until now I wasn’t familiar with Serenius’ music and sound, but considering the fact they have been around for over a decade and managed to release three albums despite turbulent times it was about time this would change. As stated above they play melodic death metal but not in a straight-forward fashion. Their lyrical themes cover the confinement and manipulation of the human being as a whole by society in order to shape him as society sees fit, a much used theme these days. Obviously many people are worried about the current state of our society and world, which seems to deteriorate on a daily basis at our own hands, and Serenius’ members are no different. And what’s more, they are not afraid to show it either. The album title, ‘Cocoon’, refers to the cocooned human being society tries to create, but it also refers to the cocoon we have to create to preserve the precious parts of us as individual human beings.

Music-wise it all starts on an easy note with ‘World’, which seems to serve as the intro to the album. Lyric-wise however the tone is immediately set to ponderous with what is best described as a summary of the band’s view on the world and us through gloomy, ominous lyrics. Right after that the accelerator is hit, rewarding us with fifty minutes of heavy, at times aggressive, but always accessible death metal starting with the gripping ‘Identity’. Throughout the album the guys explore every possible corner of the death metal genre, merging it all together into coherent, ear-pleasing and -teasing songs, complementary grunted together by Larry. Whether it’s the raging, relentless riffs backed by a blazing bass line and thundering drum lines in ‘Hate By All Means’, the soothing intro of ‘Infinity’ or the heavy metal hugging ‘Core Depths’, it all feels and sounds perfectly organic.

In my opinion Serenius is a well-oiled machine. Both guitarists are very much in sync, as are the drums and bass, regardless playing with or against each other, proving the roles the various instruments play in each of the songs are carefully composed. In fact, everything in the songs seems very well composed, it’s obvious Serenius has gone to great lengths to deliver a high quality album. Even though it never crosses the borders of melodic death metal very far it’s a varied album that keeps you focused and interested at all times. Highlights are ‘The Shell’, the inciting, intriguing ‘DMP’ (Daily Maddening Process) and the majestic ‘Infinity’.

So concluding it’s safe to say that in my opinion ‘Cocoon’ is a great release, well worth your undivided attention even if you’re not a fan of the genre. Not only are the songs very well composed, carefully thought out pieces of work, the excellent production, which can definitely be considered an asset here, is skillfully executed as well. Definitely recommended as far as I’m concerned.

Written by Henric van Essen

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