Words Untold & Dreams Unlived is the stunning debut CD from Austria's Serenity. Filled with everything most listeners love about the power & progressive metal genre-solid guitar work, sweeping keyboards, histrionic vocals, catchy melodies, powerhouse drumming, and plenty of instrumental interplay, Words Untold & Dreams Unlived is a must hear if you haven't already checked it out. Sea of Tranquility Publisher Pete Pardo was recently in contact with keyboard player Mario Hirzinger to talk about the bands humble beginnings, their debut for Napalm Records, and future plans.
Read on for the full interview!
Sea of Tranquility: Can you give us a little history of the band first.
Mario Hirzinger: We started out in January 2001 performing our own style of melodic metal with some progressive influences. We rehearsed a lot, played several gigs, released a demo CD called Starseed V.R. in early 2002 and gained a quite high level of professionality until the end of 2003 when one of the founding members quit the band. In February 2004 I got in contact with three musicians who wanted to start a metal band (Thomas, Georg and Simon) and only a short while later we had a "new version" of Serenity. With this line up we felt we could really reach higher grounds. And so we did- a support show to DIO and many remarkable gigs (with bands like SYMPHORCE, MORGANA LEFAY, METAL CHURCH) brought the respect of the Austrian underground. Our demo CD from 2005 (Engraved Within) was "demo of the month" in some magazines and we thought it was the time to risk it all and produce a full length album. It was the right decision because finally we ended up with signing to Napalm Records in December 2006!
SoT: It apparently took a few years for you to put the finishing touches on the debut CD-can you talk a little bit about the writing process and the ordeals you went through to get this album completed?
Mario: The first "new" song for the CD ("Canopus 3") was written sometime around May 2005, and we entered the studio in Munich in February 2006 and the CD was released in April 2007, so you're right talking about a long time of production! As we all work in "normal" jobs we needed the time, for first we write songs very carefully and thus rather slow. Lyrics are also very important to me and I always spend much time on writing them. The songs of the last demo needed to be rearranged, so we searched for a cover artist and had to prepare for and play gigs – so we had enough to do! Then after the first weeks in the studio we had to wait for the contribution of the guy who did the orchestral stuff, the mix and mastering were done in Helsinki in September 2006 and when the album was finished we couldn't yet release it because we had to wait for the labels' answers. When it was clear that we would sign to Napalm they said they would not release it before Christmas, but in Spring! You can see why it took such a long time, but we promise the next one will follow next summer, not later!
SoT: What are some of the band's influences?
Mario: Here we have to look at who's doing the song writing in Serenity: it's Thomas, Georg and me. The two guys are huge fans of bands like KAMELOT, NIGHTWISH, SONATA ARCTICA, I like to put some SAVATAGE-vibes in our sound and we all adore THRESHOLD, SYMPHONY X, DREAM THEATER, EVERGREY and MERCENARY.
SoT: That's quite a good list to draw influences from! Much of the album is very catchy and memorable-how hard is it to write good melodies as well as throw in plenty of instrumental firepower, which is an aspect that fans of the prog-metal genre love so much?
Mario: It's the most hard work regarding song writing, believe me! We're always trying hard to combine these elements because we think a good song should have both, the melodies and the technical skills – and both should thrill and keep the listener interested! Of course we know we are no over-the-top musicians like Jon Petrucci or Neil Peart, but we know our strengths and will explore them to their boundaries. And be sure there will be very, very catchy vocal lines on the next output too!
SoT: What other current bands do you admire?
Mario: Oh, there are many brilliant, ass kicking bands which we like and are much too underrated in our opinion, among them PAGAN'S MIND, ZERO HOUR, CIRCUS MAXIMUS, MALPRACTICE, INTO ETERNITY and PAIN OF SALVATION. Listen to these f***ing geniuses! The latest band I discovered are LYKAION from Italy, check them out at www.lykaion.it if you can imagine NEVERMORE mixed with OPETH with female vocals!
SoT: Does Serenity have any touring plans?
Mario: We had been on tour this last March for ten days with MORGANA LEFAY and SACRED STEEL and we liked it very much – this is what we've always been dreaming about! Another tour should happen in September 2007 (almost three weeks across Europe) but I'm not yet allowed to talk about the headlining band as it is not fixed yet! I just can say we will go nuts if it turns out to reality!
SoT: Vocals growls are used sparingly on a few numbers on the new CD, adding an interesting contrast to the music. Any plans to expand on that in the future?
Mario: The first song we have written for the second album ("Rust Of Coming Ages") has even more growling parts than ever used by us! This is an element we surely will keep because we think it is something that separates us from other power metal acts. And it adds some "balls" to the music!
SoT: Are there immediate plans to record a follow up and strike while the iron is hot?
Mario: As I mentioned before we want to release the next album in Summer 2008 – and Napalm hope to do so as well! But first we have to promote the current CD as much as we can by playing live many times and establish our name in the scene.
SoT: Power metal and progressive metal is really starting to catch on here in the US, thanks in part to bands like Dream Theater and Dragonforce. What are the chances of Serenity coming to the US in the near future?
Mario: That is great to hear, although I also admire US metal bands like UNEARTH, KILLSWITCH ENGAGE, TYPE O NEGATIVE or BECOMING THE ARCHETYPE! According to what our label says, we would have a chance to tour the USA if we sell something around 3,000 units over there. So, to every metal head out there: please help us cross the Atlantic Ocean and give a listen to our album!
SoT: You hear that folks-check out the latest Serenity CD Words Untold & Dreams Unlived so we can get this band over to the US!
Mario: Thank you very much too & thank you for the awesome review of our CD! All the best from everyone in Serenity from Austria!
(Click here to read our review of Words Untold & Dreams Unlive)