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Sad Serenity: The Grand Enigma

In essence Sad Serenity is the play-thing of one man - guitar and piano teacher Marcell Kaemmerer - who, like so many people out there decided to put his lockdown time to good use. Constructing The Grand Enigma, the German multi-instrumentalist then set about embellishing things with a trio of top-line guest stars and a few other talented helpers. Hence, while Marcell plays guitar, keys and bass on the album, as well as programming the drums and producing the whole shebang, the voice you hear conveying some deep, thoughtful lyrics is that of Wardrum’s George Margaritopoulos. Add in some growls from Andrew Huskey on a couple of tracks and a guitar solo on one song from Richard Henshall of Haken and we have some stellar players involved here.

Thankfully, unlike so many of these cameo laden releases, the basis from which everything grows - the songs - are of a high standard, Sad Serenity providing a proud punch of progressive metal that convinces throughout. The downside, however, is one that a lot of these more organically grown albums come with - obviously programmed drums and a production that’s good enough to convey the album’s core message but never quite lithe or broad enough to raise things the notch or two that a larger budget might have done. The pay-off here, however, is that the dramatically inclined “Clinging”, one of three songs to reach convincingly over eleven minutes, or frantically energetic “Dukkha” are simply too good not to be sent out to a wider audience.

Margaritopoulos proves to be an inspired choice as the voice of this project, his rich tones passionate and believable, and yet ever so slightly commercially inclined in a way that provides clever counterpoint to some of the more aggressive moments. In places I’m taken into a slightly less theatrical Damian Wilson like frame of mind. Never one to see himself - or anyone else for that matter - short changed, Richard Henshall lays down a cracking solo on closing track “Second Awakening”, but thankfully the song itself is strong enough to stand toe to toe against its star guest. And impressively, the three instrumentals on the album - one short, one long and one landing somewhere in-between - also hold the attention.

The Grand Enigma is an impressive release with a very grand, almost soundtrack like feel, and while it never really set out to break too much new ground, it is also individual enough to not simply remind of other acts within this sphere. That in itself is a compliment and one that is hopefully rewarded by a label offering Sad Serenity a hand as they continue their musical journey.


Track Listing
1. Vivid Dreams
2. First Awakening
3. Clinging
4. Treacherous Calm
5. Dukkha
6. He Who Floats Thy Boat
7. Boomerang
8. Second Awakening

Added: October 14th 2023
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Score:
Related Link: Sad Serenity @ bandcamp
Hits: 361
Language: english

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