Monumental: Songs Of Misery And Hope

New album by Serotonal

Reviewed by Matt Ford (18/5/10)

Since Serotonal's initial inception in 2004, the band have spent their creative energies on concocting the huge sound which pervades their debut full-length album 'Monumental: Songs Of Misery And Hope', all the while struggling with personnel changes and a Liverpool scene largely uninterested in the kind of music they offer. Serotonal's relatively low profile belies the influence that frontman Darren White has had on a global scale with earlier bands Anathema and The Blood Divine, and the fact remains that hard rock and metal appeal to a very limited audience on Merseyside. Despite this, the band's intensity is rampant, and they have produced an album which successfully conveys the power of their live performances.

As is very often the case with the most involving of music, attempting to classify Serotonal seems a futile excercise. Due to White's association with doom metal, it would be too easy to fix the quintet with that label, and - for the most part - it would simply be innacurate. In fact, several of the nine songs on offer here speed by with a confident and self-assured pace a thousand miles from the doom realm. Live favourites 'Chaosmind' and 'Self Control Seizure' are positively brimming with metallic energy, and the venomous 'Hinge ( )' bursts out of the traps with a bitter vengeance.

However, it's not all raging guitars; there is plenty of room amidst the heaviness for the softer, more atmospheric moments to breathe, and shine through. 'Monumental' - arguably the centrepiece of the album, clocking in at just under eight minutes - is built on a tasteful ambience and emotive, luscious guitar chords, while 'Isolated' is driven along by its hypnotic, swirling bassline. Vocally, White's contributions range from pure aggression to an almost whispered form of melodic speech. His lyrics - particularly in these more reserved moments - are often flavoured with a meditative and adept philosophy, culminating in the stunning 'Natureality', which closes the album in dramatic style.

These are songs of substance and scope. This is dynamic and astute songwriting, with the wisdom of a hardened, experienced band, and the enthusiasm of a group of teenagers let loose in the recording studio for the first time. In other words, 'Monumental' is not too shabby for a debut album. Let's wait and see what Serotonal's future holds.

'Monumental: Songs Of Misery And Hope' is out now on Union Black Records, and can be purchased from

Serotonal and read an interview with the band here.

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