Review Summary: Another attempt at a darker atmosphere by a band this year results in another lackluster album. There is good, but not as much as there should be.
*insert rant about the state of American metal today*
Yeah. You’ve heard it before, there’s no point to post it again. You’ve also heard that there’s bands that aren’t part of the American metal mainstream that are actually doing interesting stuff (figures, doesn’t it...). Kamelot is one of them.
Kamelot isn’t a complete American metal band though. Singer Khan and keyboardist Oliver hail from Norway and Germany, respectively. That’s not important though. What is important is that Kamelot have quietly been producing absolutely brilliant power metal music for over 10 years now and have yet to slow down.
Ghost Opera brings a darker vibe to the music that we know and love. Blistering solos, powerful riffing, terrific vocals and great orchestral work all come together with an underlying feeling of malice that has only really been seen in a few of their songs before, such as March Of Mephisto or the Elizabeth trilogy.
The darker atmosphere works at first too. After the minute intro we are treated to Rule The World
, a deliciously evil song that ranks up there with one of Kamelot’s best. It’s heavy, with trademark Kamelot riffing and what may be Khan’s best vocal performance on the album. In fact, the first three songs are some of the best on the album. The title track, and the first single off of the album, mixes the faster paced music found on Karma with the orchestral capabilities of The Black Halo to create a trademark Kamelot song. It doesn’t stand out from anything you might find on The Black Halo, but it’s a solid song.
On The Human Stain
, we really see where Kamelot is taking their new sound. Possessing what may be the most evil vibe on the album, we are treated to chunky 7 string riffing and creepy piano parts that sound like a musicbox in that dark room where the killer awaits. The guitar and bass parts are very simple, in fact, but they work well with the vibe of the music. The chorus of the song is the most suprisingly part, though. The chorus sounds like something you might hear on everyday radio, yet it’s done better than any other band. I think if the band didn’t have Khan fronting them, this song would have crashed and burned and got the offhand compliment of being “high concept”. However, Khan’s vocals make this one special.
It’s around the time where we hit the 5th track that the album starts to lose its polish. Blucher
starts off alright, but it’s hopelessly ruined by robotic voiceover parts scattered throughout the song. Seriously, there hasn’t been as big a trainwreck as this since Collision Course (you know, the Jay-Z/Linkin Park mashup). Love You To Death
is actually a pretty decent song, barring the stupid title and lyrics. There’s some pretty cool Eastern styled instrument parts, and the chorus is big. Gene Hoglan big. Khan’s genuine emotion turns this one into an epitaph for a loved one instead of a failed love letter. Thomas Youngblood gets a cool solo in this one too. Instead of shredding up the neck like he usually does, he tones it down a bit and lets the feeling of the song shine through.
Actually, the problem with this album is not that any of the songs are BAD (besides Blücher), its just that they aren’t GOOD. Not one of them besides the 3 at the beginning stick out at all. They’re just decent tracks. For an American metal band, they’re very good. For Kamelot, they’re hopelessly under par. Even with the expanded orchestral capabilities, the riffing is much more uninspired than on previous albums, and that kinda kills the whole deal.
One other thing is Khan’s insistence on using vocal effects. Songs start off fine with him singing normally, and then he goes and puts on some distortion or what have you and kills the mood. Khan can SING. In fact, he’s probably one of the best power metal singers around today. He doesn’t need vocal effects to show that he can sing. I just wish he would let it shine through.
The last two tracks provide some saving grace to the album. Not enough to elevate it, but enough to keep it from crashing and burning. Anthem
is the album’s ballad track, and Thomas and Co. did a great job composing here. Strings and piano interplay and weave in and out with other orchestra instruments and create a very pretty piece of music. And yes, Khan uses some vocal effects on here, but thankfully they aren’t terribly noticeable.
sends the album off in grand fashion with another traditional Kamelot song. Chugging riffs and orchestra work give the song a Karma styled vibe while still keeping the dark atmosphere that this album produced. Good choir work as well. Again, this one doesn’t really stick out among tracks on Kamelot’s earlier albums, but given the nature of this album, this track is quite good.
Kamelot’s latest album does have some good tracks on it. You just have to sort through the bad to get to them. As was said before, for an American metal band, this is a very good album. As a Kamelot album, it’s merely passable.
Rule The World
The Human Stain