INIQUITY - Serenadium
GENRE: Death metal
LABEL: Emanzipation Productions / Diehard Music
WRITTEN BY: PSL
Serenadium is a CD I hold in high regard. Here 12 years after it came out I can still listen to the music and find it as captivating as I did in 1996 and to me that is what makes a classic. People who know something about death metal should be familiar with the Danish band Iniquity. The band underwent many line-up changes during the years before they unfortunately broke up in 2004. The 1996 debut Serenadium was for various reasons delayed a long time, but it proved to be worth the wait. It's rare that a band has their own distinctive sound and style on the debut, but Iniquity had. Of course you could hear a few references to Nocturnus and others every now and then, but not in a way that made the Danes sound like a copy.
Contrary to the later releases the music on Serenadium was gloomy death metal with a doomsday-like feel. The song-writing was intelligent and the band mixed both slow parts and more blastbeat kind of outbursts into their mid-tempo orientated death metal. Unlike a lot of death metal bands Iniquity had quite a few leads in the songs. This together with Brian Petrowsky's low and guttural growls gave Iniquity some of their characteristics. Other things that added to the distinctive sound of the band was the audible bass and the sporadically use of cello, piano and keyboard. All of these things coalesced made Serenadium the nuanced effort it is. The album was recorded in the widely used Borsing Recording. The production was meaty, dirty and in a way almost Sunlight Studio-like. It could have been better, but it fits the mood of the music very well.
Right after the recording drummer Jacob Olsen left the band and Jesper Frost joined right before the release of the album and that is why he is in the booklet. Soon after the release of Serenadium bassist Thomas "Gnist" Christensen also quit the band. He was then replaced by Martin Rosendahl. A month later guitarist/vocalist Brian Petrowsky was fired. Rumour has it that it was due to drug abuse, but I don't know if that indeed was the case. The band endured further line-up changes and that led to some adjustments in the direction of the music. The band continued to put out great releases like The Hidden Lore, Five Across the Eyes and Grime, but none of these could top Serenadium.
There's an anecdote on the Mighty Music website that Iniquity met up with Trey Azagthoth from Morbid Angel at a concert in Denmark and when the band introduced themselves, Trey went totally crazy and started memorizing his favourite riff from Serenadium. I don't know if that story really took place, but if it did it quite well sums it up. Serenadium is a work of genius. There are no weak songs or tiring filler on the album. It's an effort that belongs in death metal history alongside many of the other great releases.