Review Summary: Colour me surprised.
Kamelot albums have looked interchangeable for a while. They settled into a comfy niche of power metal influenced symphonic metal with a slight gothic hue, never looking back. With each release songs began to blend more and more until the promise of a new release didn’t seem so promising. For whatever reason, The Awakening takes a different turn. I venture that Kamelot’s singer (Tommy Karevik) having an excellent release in Seventh Wonder’s The Testament last year must have been influential. Either way, I welcome the result — Kamelot sound refreshed and jazzed to be active. I am equally psyched. Get psyched!
As always the highlight is Tommy’s vocals. Yes yes, Kamelot are a heavy band, but their melody work is of a movie epic. The awakening raises that intensity further with an easily more memorable symphonic section including orchestral vocals. It’s bigger, it’s bolder, and with Tommy’s already excellent performance, the backing instruments are finally on the same level of dramatic pizzazz as he is. You may also notice Tommy sounding absolutely incredible here, there’s no holding back, he gives an impassioned cry-out for stunning emphasis. There is no corner of the album where his haunting performance is not readily felt.
Finally, a Kamelot album with a different feel. One of the standouts here is New Babylon, bursting in with a host of vocals, but also featuring growls and sung portions from Melissa Bonny — the harmonies in the choruses are breathtaking. Certain songs have choruses very typical of Kamelot, but recycling is no issue considering Kamelot are at the top of their game here. The choruses are huge and bright, but the charismatic orchestration of even standard verses is something to behold.
The final question is how The Awakening compares to their previous albums. It’s not much of a question though — it’s a new chapter/dawning for Kamelot. The passion infused in the album is clear from the sensitive piano playing to the catchy riffs. The album will surely win new fans who previously considered Kamelot average, though previous fans are in for a huge treat. This is the Kamelot I always wanted to hear, and I’m sure many will feel the same way.