Review Summary: Kamelot finally strike gold with their fifth album, marrying subtle theatrics and stellar songwriting in a way unique to them
It took quite a while for Kamelot to develop their signature sound. They began as a fairly standard US power metal band on Eternity
with fairly decent songwriting but a rather annoying vocalist in Mark Vanderbilt. Siége Perilous
featured the introduction of the extremely talented Roy Khan on vocals, but also displayed a notable drop in songwriting quality. The Fourth Legacy
featured a switch to a more European-inspired brand of power metal, combined with progressive undertones. Karma
is largely a continuation of the new sound that the band has established with The Fourth Legacy
, where they iron out the kinks and make a much more enjoyable listening experience.
Easily the biggest strength of Karma
is it's consistency, with all twelve tracks maintaining the same level of quality. Every song on Karma
provides a rewarding listening experience, whether the songs are a personal tale (Forever, Don't You Cry) or a mythical tale (Karma, Elizabeth).
In addition to the very high songwriting quality, Kamelot has also included plenty of variety on Karma
. Rather than every song being full speed ahead, as par the course for a typical power metal band, only a third of Karma
could be counted among those ranks. Kamelot have included healthy helpings of mid-tempo rockers, including "The Spell" and "Karma", and ballads, such as "Don't You Cry" and "Temples of Gold". They have also placed the songs in a very concise running order, ensuring the listener is never bombarded with too much too soon of the same type of song.
While Roy Khan had done well with his end on both Siége Perilous
and The Fourth Legacy
, on Karma
he goes above and beyond being simply great. He feels almost like a theater actor, being able to convey the words that any role requires while bringing to it the subtle layers of emotion that will make one practically hypnotized by his words. Whether he is telling his own tale on "Wings of Despair", playing both the grieving son and the watchful father in "Don't You Cry", portraying a dying king reminiscing about his violent past on "Karma", and even Elizabeth Bathory herself, one can count on Khan being in top form.
In many ways Karma
fees like the album Kamelot have spent their whole career attempting to make up to this point. All their previous releases have had their good moments, but none of them manage to rise above "great" status. Even The Fourth Legacy
, which was much better than any preceding release, felt more like a precursor to an amazing album rather than an amazing album unto itself. Karma
combines subtle theatrics and stellar songwriting in a way that no prior Kamelot release does, setting a template for it's successors to follow.
All too often one finds a band that produces their best album with their debut release, with none of the successors ever reaching the same heights. But sometimes it takes a while for a band to strike gold. Kamelot have finally done so with Karma
, giving them the final boost above simply being "great", and making them "outstanding". If you're a fan of power metal, and you're sick of the cheese-fest that most of the modern scene has become, Karma
will be very much to your liking.