Review Summary: An otherwise decent debut album is dragged down by sub-par vocals.
Power metal is a very love it or hate it genre. To its fans, power metal is full of epic songs with top-notch musicianship. To its detractors, power metal is cheesy and overdone, with overly fast guitar, and generic fantasy lyrics. However, Kamelot has largely escaped the typical criticism that most power metal bands get, largely due to their successful albums Karma
, and The Black Halo
. Kamelot are even sometimes cited as one of the best bands in their genre. However, if someone were to listen to their debut album Eternity
, they would fail to understand why.
is not a poor album. On the contrary, in most respects it is a decent album. Thomas Youngblood, while not being the guitarist he would one day become, still provides solid riffs throughout most of the songs, and has several entertaining solos, such as on "Red Sands" and "One of the Hunted." Richard Warner is a solid drummer that, while never really standing out, does a good job of keeping the band together and keeping the beat. His best work is showcased on "Warbird," where he plays some quite entertaining patterns in the beginning and end. Bassist Glenn Barry and keyboardist David Pavlicko mostly blend into the background, but still have their brief moments. All this would normally be acceptable, especially considering that this is that band's debut, and thus minor flaws and uneven points can be forgiven. However, one thing that cannot be forgiven is the vocals.
Vocalist Mark Vanderbilt is primarily responsible for the weakness of Eternity
. He sounds like a complete Geoff Tate
wannabe, while being not even close to Tate's quality. That wouldn't be so bad, but Vanderbilt is simply not a very good vocalist. He frequently sounds shaky, and when he attempts to pull off high notes, it sounds absolutely awful. The worst part of this is that he drags the whole band down with him. There are several moments on this album where is sounds as if the band will begin to rise above "decent", and then he comes back in with his awful high notes, such as in "Warbird" and "Fire Within". His sole passable vocal performance is on the ballad "What About Me", which is easily the best track on the album.
The other aspects of the album vary in their quality. Another weak aspect of the album is that most songs have some noticeable tempo change take place. While sometimes that changes are executed well, other times, most notably on "The Gleeman", the change is very sudden, and it can be rather jarring to hear it. The lyrics range from good to passable, never managing to stand out in either a good or bad way. Occasionally, the album suffers from lack of variety, mainly from the lyrical topics, and occasionally some guitar riffs.
shows how one member can seriously weaken the entire band. However, if the listener is willing to forgive Vanderbilt for his worst moments, Eternity
is a solid debut record that features decent performances and songwriting, while leaving plenty of room for improvement.