Seraphim – Ai
Seraphim – Ai (2004)
Reviewed by Sebastian Kluth
Two years after the female fronted symphonic power metal milestone The Equal Spirit, Seraphim came around with another high class genre release that would mark singer Pay Lee’s swansong. The band kept the strong elements of the predecessor, such as epic symphonic elements, emotionally driven guitar, and the mixture of heavenly female vocals, dark growls, and a few clean male vocals. In addition to this, the band added a few clever instrumental tracks to lighten things up, as in “Gone“. Seraphim also finally honored its origins by including more Asian folk elements than before, as evidenced by the atmospheric and almost spiritual “Resurrect“.
Despite these positive elements, I give a slightly lower rating to this output than the previous. The reason is quite simple: because The Equal Spirit boasted an exclusive mixture of addicting and catchy tracks on one side, and intellectual epics on the other that directly touched my heart and soul. This third record still has four truly outstanding pieces that easily exceed the quality of many genre colleagues. The first highlight is without a doubt the aforementioned and quite original “Resurrect“. Then comes the epic, “Instantaneous“, with its diversified changes, sacral arrangements, great keyboard leads, technically impressive guitar solos, and the brilliantly grounded and powerful vocals by the now-deceased Pay Lee. Another positive is the great power metal anthem “Can’t Take”, with a sacral middle part that reminds me of the beautiful Pachelbel’s Canon (one of Baroque music’s very finest moments). Another track that caught me by surprise was the epic “My”, that stands out thanks to the best clean male vocal performance in the career of the band. The clean vocals perfectly harmonize with Peggy Lee and this dreamy power metal tune reminds me (in a very positive way) of Edenbridge. I would have liked to hear more tracks in this new vein. This song is probably my favorite track on the release.
The other songs simply don’t really discover new ground, and have lost some of their heavenly light atmosphere. A good example would be the track “Implementation”. It features growls and the soft female vocals, but these two elements harmonize less than usual, and add a rather confusing and hectic note to the song. This little imperfection isn’t anything that would bother your overall listening experience, but are an example of the kind of thing that was completely absent on the almost unbeatable predecessor. The same formula works marginally better in the haunting “Desperate”, but it’s still not on the same level as similar songs on the last release.
Nevertheless, these criticisms are still made at a very high level and under the big impression of the groundbreaking predecessor. What we have here is, in the end, a record that might still easily make it on my list of the ten best records of the year in 2004. Any symphonic power metal fan should know this high quality record, despite its obscurity.
4.25 // 5