I am ashamed to say that I had not heard of Serdce before now. This is one heck of a prog album. Over the past few years I’ve been growing more and more disillusioned at the prog metal scene. While this album certainly has some innovations, I think its main strength is that it takes the sound and style of many familiar prog bands (Cynic and Dream Theater come to mind), but actually does it right. I want to review this album by pointing out how they avoid certain common pitfalls to make excellent music.
I’ll start by deconstructing “Loss of Feelings or Feelings of Loss.” The song starts with a slow piano, strings, and clean vocals. First, they aren’t afraid to let this section go on long enough to really establish the chord progression and melody. I think a lot of prog metal bands feel a need to get to the metal too fast, and this causes a lot underdeveloped sections that quickly switch styles disjointedly.
Once the first section wraps up, the song progresses to the next section. This section picks up the tempo a bit, adds bass and drums, and changes the style slightly through the accompaniment. This is exactly what needed to happen. The first section ended and we progressed to the next section. The style change was subtle enough to just naturally flow between sections. The type of changes that were made all contributed to the sense of building and progressing (it got louder, faster, and so on).
This faster section is fully developed as well. They take their time before the third section begins. The point I’m trying to make is that this band really understands pacing. They let sections go for long enough to get some development done, but they don’t let them drag on too long. The lengths are really good. We then move on to a guitar solo to mediate the change to the third section which brings in more instrumentation (notably a saxophone). Again, the section is a bigger, faster, larger version of the previous one.
I think the soloing after this section really sums up what the band does so well. The guitar playing eventually builds into nice technical work, but before it builds to that climax, the solo is based on the melody with very minor ornamentation first. Once the technical part happens, it is very classical. The ornamentation is almost Baroque style. This allows you to keep a good sense of what is going on.
Not only does this show that the band really understands the tools that go into a good composition, but they use the tools in the right way. I think a lot of technical bands forget that technique and ornamentation are just tools. They aren’t the song itself. There has to be a solid foundation on which to build with these tools.
Serdce really show how good they are by their musical sense and knowing what not to do. They know how far they can go with the mixture of modern tech death, jazzy prog elements (that fretless bass is so good for this album), and neo-classicism. The combinations are really interesting, and they work! They pull from all sorts of places to craft unified pieces that have good songwriting underlying everything. The technique enhances the songs rather than just being the song. Even “Quasar” which is essentially a study on chromaticism sits on a solid foundation which reveals itself at the end.
The range of styles make songs that are sometimes beautiful, sometimes fun, sometimes powerful and moving. The songs always have a clear sense of direction. They are driving towards a climax or tapering from one. Overall I have thoroughly enjoyed this album. This album is without question prog album of the year so far for me. There are some minor standard issues like the synthesized orchestration dominating at a few points, but I can easily overlook that for what they’ve done here. I give it a 9.5/10.
Here’s a sample: