Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Hump Day Hot Ticket: Serenity “Lionheart”

Photo credit: Manuel Janus Mair

In music, there are certain lyrical themes that are just tailor-made for a particular genre; the two elements gelling together so perfectly that one is oftentimes unsure whether one depends on the other in order to flourish.

For example, because symphonic metal is so steeped in classical music influences, historical themes within the lyrics are almost a given. Just hearing the orchestra or choirs instantly hearken imagery of the Renaissance, of lords, ladies, and gallant knights. The two are so intertwined that it would be difficult to determine whether the sound influences the lyrics, or the historical themes influences the music! Of course, the fantasy element is also a huge component of symphonic metal's lyrical content, but that is another discussion for another time!

Within the symphonic metal scene, credit is often given to the band Sabaton for being the premier historical experts, and there is no denying that their moniker of “History Channel Metal” is not undeserved. However, if any one band was next in line to the throne at the metal historical society, I would give a strong nod to Austria's Serenity: a band who wrote a concept album about the life of Leonardo da Vinci; whose songs feature titles such as “Legacy of Tudors”, “The Chevalier”, and the latest song I am reviewing today, “Lionheart”. (It should probably be mentioned here that the band's frontman, Georg Neuhauser, is a history teacher, which is one reason the band knows its material so well!)

Based on Richard I, the song's namesake, the video for “Lionheart” tells the story of Richard's oath to take up the cross and lead the Kings' Crusade into Jerusalem. At this point, as I am no history expert, I am merely going to make observations on the video itself, and the history buffs reading this can figure out what the imagery means.

The video starts with Georg (presumably in the title role) climbing up a craggy, rocky hill, armed with sword and shield, bearing the royal standard. The band plays inside a cave (again, presumably inside the rocky mountainside shown in the video), faces and arms coated with dirt and dust, as if they have been unearthed after years in the mountain. Georg (as himself) sings the lyrics as a large cross looms behind him, emphasizing the religious angle to this tale of old.

The camera alternates between scenes with Georg as Richard the Lionheart, and shots of the band playing in the dark cave. As “Richard” enters the darkened corridor, he kneels before a woman dressed in white, wearing a crown of thorns (spiritual symbolism, perhaps?), moving before him as he looks on in awe. Before long, she is seen wearing almost nothing (more symbolism?), as Lionheart makes his way to the summit, the royal standard waving proudly in the wind.

For more information on Serenity, or to pre-order their new album Lionheart (out on October 27th), visit their official website.

Thanks to Claudia Steinlechner at Napalm Records.

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