Review Summary: Kamelot returns with a new vocalist and a return to their greatest era - with splendid results.
Kamelot is one of the top dogs in symphonic power metal, huh? I'd say they're there right along side Nightwish as THE symphonic power band - and like Nightwish, they'd turned away from their power metal roots in favor of a catchier, more symphonic sound with more recent releases. These recent releases - Ghost Opera
and Poetry for the Poisoned
have been shunned by traditional fans of Kamelot. Poetry
in particular seemed to be a real turn away from the undistuped masterpiece The Black Halo
(which is in my top 10 albums ever). When things were already low for the band, Roy Khan decided to leave. Any Kamelot fan could tell you that Roy was THE voice for Kamelot. He simply was an incredible vocalist and certainly among my favorites - among the favorites of many.
Two years later, enter Silverthorn
with new vocalist Tommy Karevik. With the voice of Kamelot being gone, could they ascend from the shame of the public? The answer is a deep, resounding "yes." Silverthorn
is a complete return to form for Kamelot - one which will more than make up for one or two lackluster albums for the traditional Kamelot fan, while still retaining elements that made previous outputs enjoyable for the more modern Kamelot fan.
Though I personally have never noticed a large change in sound, I must confess to being more in the latter category than the former. While I enjoy The Fourth Legacy
quite well, The Black Halo
is their first album I really loved. The two following it - yes, even the much maligned Poetry for the Poisoned
- are fantastic releases as well. As such, I was way more than skeptical when I saw everyone claiming this as some return to form for Kamelot. One of my favorite singers ever is gone, some guy from some band I never heard of replaced him (note to self: go listen to Seventh Wonder immediately), and the band has return to a sound more akin to The Fourth Legacy
definitely has a sound more akin to earler albums than latter, but I would say this has much more in common with The Black Halo
than anything else. Really, Kamelot just shines with their concept albums, don't they? The music is cohesive with a kind of flow where you know
this is a concept album, and tracks like "Silverthorn" and "Solitaire" would've fit right in there. Though lead single “Sacrimony (Angel of Afterlife)” – among the album’s highlights – sound similar to The Fourth Legacy
indeed (the first time listening to it, all I could think of was how similar the vocal melody “Forgive my sacrimony” sounded to “In following the fourth legacy”), there are certain nuances that remind me of "March of Mephisto" - from the black metal shrieks by Alissa White-Gluz (note: the guest appearances on this album are singers from terrible bands) to how certain lines remind so well of Roy's classic performance in the above mentioned song. Yet, despite these similarities, the song has its own character and is right there in league with some of the best music Kamelot has put out.
But really, the way the songs are written is in a style quite similar to The Black Halo
in almost every track. I've never been overly keen on Kamelot ballads, but "Song for Jolee" is simply beautiful, reminding me of (to the surprise of no one) "Abandoned" - maybe because "Abandoned" is the only other Kamelot ballad I really like, but I can't help but notice similarities in melodies, poignancy, or even the climax towards the end where the chorus is repeated with typical metal instrumentation (drums, guitar, etc) added... and even some symphonic fancyness right before that.
Nonetheless, tracks like "My Confession" and the longer expected-"epic" "Prodigal Son" are much more downcast, certainly bringing to mind moments of Kamelot's two albums prior. "My Confession" has more reliance on symphonics and drawing out emotion, and it recalls songs such as "Up Through the Ashes" or "Mourning Star." Though I expected "Prodigal Son" to remind more of "Memento Mori," its gloomy aura brings more to mind what the "Poetry for the Poisoned" tracks would've given off if united as one song. With arguably increased catchiness and powerful riffing, I'd guess even the stubborn haters of latter-era Kamelot will welcome these tracks despite their similarities.
Of course, with Khan being who he is, the biggest source of attention is going to be the new vocalist. And, well.... he sounds just like Khan. I have no prior experience with Tommy - as such, I have no idea how much he's TRYING, but he's very similar regardless. He sounds SO similar, in fact, I'd bet that a passing Kamelot fan would think it's still Roy singing. His work in "Sacrimony (Angel of Afterlife), "Veritas," and "Silverthorn" in particular remind me of Roy every damn time. Yet even so, he has his own touch and style that certainly makes him notably different. Worse than Roy? In my opinion, yes, but few can reach the echelons Roy reached. Tommy has a fantastic voice regardless, and I have never encountered another vocalist who could've been a better fit. He sounds utterly sincere and delivers a stunningly emotional performance in a way I thought only Roy could do. In other words: he done good.
I am endlessly amazed by this album. It's not among their best, and I'd still pick Ghost Opera
and Poetry for the Poisoned
ahead of this, but this is truly a surprisingly excellent piece of work from the kings of symphonic power metal. They took inspiration from all of their releases, melded them together, then thrust their greatest era to highest dominance. I fully expected this to be terrible without Roy - initially, my opinion on the album wasn't much better than that. But with every listen it has grown more and more, to the point I suspect this may very well one day sit alongside it's most glaring inspiration, The Black Halo
. I am a diehard fan of Kamelot's latter work and Roy Khan - if it can convince me, it can convince you.