SERPENTINE – Living And Dying In High Definition
In one of the strangest lineup shuffles for the history books, live singer Matt Black didn’t record the vocals on this second album from UK’s Serpentine, even though Tony Mills was stepping away from the band due to health reasons and his concentration on TNT duties. From what I’ve read, the studio investment on “Living And Dying In High Definition” justifies Tony’s inclusion, and I certainly believe songs like “Deep Down (There’s A Price For Love)” and “Where Do We Go From Here?” have the lively AOR charge that comes with musicians who know what they desire in their music and possess the charisma and talent to write addictive arrangements.
The sound of Serpentine is classic melodic rock, led by the keyboard sounds of Gareth David Noon, the fluid guitar technique of Christopher Gould and the magnificent melody mastery of Tony Mills. The multi-part harmonies sweeping through breakout track “Philadelphia” are sophisticated and lift you off your feet, and even when the band approach a ballad like “Love Is Blue”, there’s a full nature to the power chords and Roy Millward’s drum fills that keep the song from pure sugar sweet territory. Expanding their sound is the 6:23 epic closer “Forgotten Heroes”, something that crosses the lines of latter day Rainbow with possibly Magnum and Maiden as energy boosters through many of the instrumental parts.
The sound has improved one hundred fold thanks to Sheena Sear (Magnum) at the helm, as everything has this even, warm quality which is so necessary for melodic rock and AOR music in general. Given their recent touring with Houston, Crashdiet, and Miss Behaviour, I think all the stars are aligning for Serpentine to ascend to possible heights like fellow UK act FM based on this impressive 10 song record. Another highlight for 2011- Serpentine strike sufficiently to believe a long career is in the cards.