Review Summary: Somewhere in time, I will find you and haunt you again....
After longtime vocalist Roy Khan’s departure from Kamelot in 2012, it was needless to say that there were some big shoes to be filled. At the same time though, this was the perfect opportunity for the band to reinvent themselves and make up for the rather average Poetry For The Poisoned
. Sure enough, Tommy Karevik quickly displayed his uncanny ability to match up against Roy’s vocal prowess, with Silverthorn
being a satisfying albeit somewhat familiar showcase of the band’s abilities. It was certainly an improvement over Poetry For The Poisoned
(to a lesser extent, Ghost Opera
too), but it still had a handful of mundane moments. Fast forward three years, and Kamelot unveil Haven
. Here, the band has crafted yet another vivid, symphonic journey while simultaneously making a step forward in the right direction.
Going into Haven
, you’ll pick up pretty quickly on some of the ideas the band is going for. The production feels cleaner and more fine-cut in comparison to some of their previous work, which contrasts with some of the darker tones and themes in the songs. “Insomnia” is a great example of this, with chugging, uncomplicated guitar riffs and piano melodies forming a supportive column for a sonorous chorus. Guitarist Thomas Youngblood and keyboardist Oliver Palotai both shine through on “Veil of Elysium”, with a breathtaking solo from the former and grandiose orchestrations popping up throughout from the latter. As mentioned previously, Karevik’s clean singing is remarkably similar to that of Roy Khan, but here it feels as though he is trying to distinguish himself more; mainly due to his higher tenor vocal range best displayed on songs such as “Under Grey Skies” and “Here’s To The Fall”. The guest vocalists perform excellently as well, with Charlotte Wessels of Delain and Troy Donockley of Nightwish providing ethereal harmonies on “Under Grey Skies”. Alissa White-Gluz’s harsh vocals also give off a nice sense of divergence on the more intense “Liar Liar (Wasteland Monarchy)” and “Revolution”.
What really sells the album though is the approach the band seemed to take in making it. With almost every single album Kamelot has put out in the past decade, there’s been some sort of general concept surrounding it. This worked very well for Epica
and The Black Halo
, but less so on Poetry For The Poisoned
. With Haven
, it feels as though the band decided to focus more on the substance and character in each song as opposed to thinning out their creative process along the album as a whole. Admittedly, not all of the tracks hit their marks, especially towards the middle of the album, with “My Therapy” and “End of Innocence” coming off as slightly more tedious due to the generally slow, repetitive nature between them. However, even those songs are salvaged by Tommy’s superb vocal work. His alluring, graceful style is the best fallback the band has at this point.
In the end, Haven
holds its own as Kamelot’s best album since The Black Halo
, and has plenty to offer for any fan, including those who were slightly let down by Silverthorn
. It seems as though the band has finally managed to rebound from a slew of painfully average works and slowly reclaim their former glory. Even with its few missteps, Haven
is an engaging listen from start to finish, and the future looks bright for the kings of American symphonic metal. Now, if only they could try taking themselves a little less seriously every now and then…