It’s off to the deepest, darkest south again as I strive for excellence in European power metal. Hot off last year’s jaunt with Delain, Serenity are invading Cardiff and London, with some new friends. I went down to check them out. This text will be some sycophantic nonsense about how awesome the interview was, until then you just have iffy italics.

Sadly, Nemesea had to pull out of the tour. They’ve been replaced with, as far as I can tell, local outfit Pet Slimmers Of The Year. Their pedal boards are as big as their sound, and blast out some truly thunderous post-apocalyptic post-metal.  Lots of post, unlike Christmas with the Royal Mail. These boys obviously know they have a job to do to win over the power metal fairies who like nothing better than a good sing along. The music ranges from the eerily fragile to a wall of noise that feels like being assaulted with a mountain, but a lack of stage presence and the fact that they just don’t fit leave us relatively un-warmed up.

Thankfully, femme/folk band Pythia drag the music back into familiar territory with tight palm muted riffing, songs about wizards and dragons (snakes at the very least) and a lady in a corset. It takes the band a few songs to hit their stride with a slightly shaky start, but by the time they get round to Kissing The Knife, events are in full swing. Breaking out the full leather armour stage gear, Pythia are an extremely competent band who fully deserve all the credit they get alongside with their slot at Bloodstock a few years back, and with their blend of aggressive riffs, sweeping melodies and crystal clear vocals they stage the way for the main event.

Serenity, by their own admission, don’t have a fan base in their home country. By the time the intro tape comes on, it’s a bit cosy down the front. From the off, it’s clear that tonight will be a mass sing along, adorned with leather pantaloons of the highest order. As Rust Of Coming Ages explodes in the tiny venue, it’s quite apparent that if you’ve heard of Serenity you like them a lot and keep up with Georg Neuhauser who lets rip an hour and half of perfect singing. The newer material from Death & Legacy goes down the best, although there’s only a smattering of songs from the album that has arguably pushed them further into the limelight. That said, each handpicked song from the record has a barnstormer of a chorus, New Horizons and Far From Home played and sung with as much intensity by the crowd as the band.

The setlist is enough to please any diehard Serenity fan, material from the debut Worlds Untold & Dreams Unlived. Although it’s the album this writer is least familiar with, the material is much more progressive than the later albums, with Mario Hirzinger’s intricate keyboards sweeping effortlessly across tangled melodies, backed up by Thomas Buchberger’s relentless guitar. Mario supplies backing vocals along with Italian bassist Fabio D’Amore, the tightness of the melodies on Heavenly Mission is something that you rarely see outside of the top tier of bands, let alone a guy who’s a full time nurse.

Joining in the vocal fun is femme de jour, Clementine Delauney, who joins for Fairytales and Serenade Of Flames. Wherever they found her, they’ve been looking in the right place, her harmonies wrapping effortlessly around Georg’s lower range, the on stage chemistry adding to the intimacy of the slower moments and the aggression of the big choruses. The band also break out a song never played before (unless it was played in Cardiff the night before) live; Journey’s End, that they wanted to do especially for their fans explains Georg.

After a brief finish, the band are dragged back on stage for the set piece from Fallen Sanctuary, the fantastic Velatum. There isn’t a closed throat in the house as everyone screams back the chorus at ringmaster Georg Neuhauser who has been down in the face of the crowd for the last 90 minutes, drenched in sweat. The grand finale is Engraved Within from the debut, the haunting keys giving way to roaring guitar and pounding double kick and final screaming chorus.

If every band put as much into every gig they did as Serenity, I would be stone broke from travelling all the time. An absolutely cracking set from a criminally underrated band. Here’s looking forward to the new album and a return to English shores