REVIEW: Serious Black – Suite 226


The international ensemble SERIOUS BLACK strikes again with their fourth studio release in five years, entitled “Suite 226”. The band, which originally brought together icons from the power metal scene like Roland Grapow and Thomen Stauch, has undergone multiple changes in their lineup but has kept its founding members Urban Breed (vocals), Dominik Sebastian (guitars) and Mario Lochert (bass). This album sets the studio debut of former live drummer Ramy Ali, who came to replace permanently another old well-known power metal legend, Mr. Alex Holzwarth. “Suite 226” is a conceptual work that tells the story of a character who has spent years imprisoned in a cell to the point of going crazy and imagining that he is a powerful king with courtesans and an invincible army at his disposal. The band mentioned that with this album they would return to their power metal roots after experimenting with hard rock elements in their latest two releases.

The journey begins with a couple of mid-tempo songs like the catchy singles “Let It Go” and “When the Stars are Right,” and continue with the first true bombastic power metal gem: “Solitude Étude,” which becomes immediately one of the highlights of the album. Then follow a series of songs with a more melodic metal tone filled with nice hooks such as “Fate of All Humanity,” “Castiel,” “Heaven Shall Burn,” and “Way Back Home,” which help to develop the story and maintain the momentum of the record. Towards the end we find three tracks that stand out from the rest: I’m talking about the highly dynamic “We Still Stand Tall,” the really moving “Come Home” (for me the climax of the album and one of the best power ballads I’ve heard lately), to close with the epic and operatic eight-minute feast “Suite 226,” which incorporates interesting oriental music elements.

“Suite 226” is an entertaining album that flows smoothly from start to finish, incorporating plenty of different elements to make it a highly refreshing and enjoyable experience. Just as life, it has uplifting moments and others that are filled with melancholy, maintaining a consistent thread throughout the narration. Given the background of the story, Urban Breed‘s vocal performance is full of histrionism, mood swings and outbreaks of madness, and he excels at it. The guitars and keyboards are mixed in the right proportions, complementing each other perfectly, and I think the final result is much more satisfying than what they achieved with “Magic” and “Mirrorworld”. It’s not a perfect album, but it is clearly a step forward in their career and will give them the opportunity to perform in front of more massive audiences during their next European tour with power metal titans such as HAMMERFALL and BATTLE BEAST.

Written by David Araneda


01. Let it Go
02. When The Stars Right
03. Solitude Etude
04. Fate Of All Humanity
05. Castiel
06. Heaven Shall Burn
07. Way Back Home
08. We Still Stand Tall
09. Come Home
10. Suite 226


Urban Breed – Vocals
Dominik Sebastian – Guitars
Mario Lochert – Bass
Ramy Ali – Drums


AFM records


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