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Kamelot
The Black Halo
April 2005
Released: 2005, SPV
Rating: 5.0/5
Reviewer: Madman

For Kamelot it’s been ten years of progressive power metal. Ten years since ETERNITY, Kamelot’s first album, was released. With Kamelot’s tenth year comes their 7th full length studio release, THE BLACK HALO. One thing’s for certain, I was not a fan of Kamelot coming into this album and as a matter of fact I’ve always seen them as major underachievers with vocalist Roy Khan’s other band Conception being held in a much higher regard than Kamelot. This time though, things have changed…



With THE BLACK HALO Kamelot have finally realized the promise and potential I saw in their prior albums. With prior albums I always felt Khan’s vocals were of a much higher quality than the music; his passionate vocals were layered above music that was came off as rather bland, not to say it was all bad or terrible, there were some shining moments (especially on THE FOURTH LEGACY) but overall I was left feeling rather unfulfilled. This time the music and vocals fit together perfectly, the music matches the passion and plays up the strengths of Khan’s melodies.



If you’ve heard Kamelot prior to this album you aren’t going to see much of a difference style wise, it’s very much progressive power metal with slight orchestral tinges and some middle-eastern melodies. As I said prior, the main difference is in the song writing. The band took things to the next level; crafting songs that are instantly catchy and powerful while being more than just a couple of poppy hooks that will have you listening to the album for more than just a couple weeks.



“March of Mephisto”, which happens to include an interesting guest appearance by Shagrath of Dimmu Borgir, kicks off the album. The song utilizes soft vocal passages and a simplistic marching rhythm, both being rather typical and fairly predictable of Kamelot but it works to great effect. “When the Lights are Down” is a nice, fast, double bass song with keyboard layered nicely overtop but it’s the chorus where the song really shines. Alternating multi-layered vocals and Khan’s lone voice each line the chorus instantly had me perking my ears up and had me take serious note of the album. “The Haunting (Somewhere in Time)” is, at least for me, the true highlight of the album. Like most Kamelot songs the focus is on Khan’s voice as well as female vocals that make a strong presence close to the middle of the song. It’s pacing being slightly plodding while bouncy and carrying with it an insanely catchy chorus. Later in the album “This Pain”, while being a bit heavier, sounds a bit more melancholic than some of the other songs on the album. The song gives a slightly restrained, yet heavy, verse before an open chorus that swells with multi-layered vocals. Title track, “The Black Halo” starts off reminding me of some of the heavier moments of Dream Theater with its stop/start riff and it’s slightly off drum beat.



For me, THE BLACK HALO is Kamelot’s best album and is quickly becoming one of my favourite albums (I’ve already had many sessions at work where I’ve gone on to play the album 4 times in a row). Kamelot aren’t reinventing their style and they definitely aren’t breaking any boundaries BUT they are creating music that is far above what most of their peers have been able to accomplish. This album took me by surprise and I love it that much more for it. Nothing less than a perfect score would be criminal.
Track Listing

1. March of Mephisto
2. When the Lights Are Down
3. The Haunting (Somewhere in Time)
4. Soul Society
5. Interlude I: Dei Gratia
6. Abandoned
7. This Pain
8. Moonlight
9. Interlude II: Un Assassinio Molto Silenzioso
10. The Black Halo
11. Nothing Ever Dies
12. Memento Mori
13. Interlude III: Midnight - Twelve Tolls for a New Day
14. Serenade

Lineup

Roy Khan – vocals
Thomas Youngblood - guitars
Glenn Barry - bass
Casey Grillo – drums


Next review: » Kamelot - The Black Halo
Previous review: » Kamelot - Silverthorn

Kamelot
The Black Halo
April 2005
Released: 2005, SPV
Rating: 5.0/5
Reviewer: EvilG

For the past 5 years Kamelot has been no stranger to these pages. Their unwavering path to perfection continues with THE BLACK HALO, the band’s first release for SPV. If you’ve been into the band over the past 5 years you will no doubt love the new album. Some minor changes are in store, but nothing drastic as the band matures into one of the world’s top notch power/prog/melodic-metal bands.



On THE BLACK HALO the band doesn’t go for the accelerator as much. Thankfully there are still speedy songs because this is what first attracted many to the band, myself included. There is also not quite as much in the way of over the top guitar soloing. Of course the solos are still there, but it sounds as if the band is thinking more along the lines of the song because unless you are really looking for it, you won’t notice them. I’m not sure how he did it, but vocalist Roy Kahn has managed to squeeze even more emotion into his already amazing vocal performance. His vocal control and vibrato is astounding. There is still orchestration on the new album, but it doesn’t sound at all overdone. The band has used some guest vocalists, the oddest one being Shagrath of Dimmu Borgir on the track “March of Mephisto”. After you hear the song, it won’t seem as odd of a match as it seems. Shagrath is also in the video for the song. Currently, I’d have to say that this one is my favorites on the album. Hot on its heels though is “The Haunting (Somewhere in Time)” which features duet (female) vocalist Simone Simons. Every song on here is ace, the ballads are not quite as exciting, but that’s because this reviewer has never been much for ballads. As far as ballads go, they are listenable and do not make one want to hit the skip button like some bands’ ballads do! Rather than run through run every song on here, let’s leave it to you, the listener, to discover the brilliance that is THE BLACK HALO.



With THE BLACK HALO, Kamelot has once again proven that they are on a whole other plateau above and beyond most bands in their style of metal. If you at all like prog/power/melodic metal, and have yet to check into Kamelot, I feel sorry for you. It’s never too late to discover this amazing band though! For fans of the band, I’m sure you’ve already bought the new album, and if you were holding off on buying it…don’t because you will not be disappointed.
Track Listing

01. March of Mephisto
02. When the Lights Are Down
03. The Haunting (Somewhere in Time)
04. Soul Society
05. Interlude I - Dei Gratia
06. Abandoned
07. This Pain
08. Moonlight
09. Interlude II - Un Assassinio Molto Silenzioso
10. The Black Halo
11. Nothing Ever Dies
12. Memento Mori
13. Interlude III - Midnight/Twelve Tolls for a New Day
14. Serenade

Lineup

Roy Khan: vocals
Thomas Youngblood: guitars
Glenn Barry: bass
Casey Grillo: drums

Guest musicians:
Keyboards and orchestral arrangements - Miro
Additional guitars - Sascha Paeth
Keyboards solos on "March of Mephisto" and "When the Lights Are Down" - Jens Johansson
Mephisto character on "March of Mephisto" and "Memento Mori" - Shagrath (Courtesy of Nuclear Blast)
Cabaret singer on "Un Assassinio Molto Silenzioso" - Cinzia Rizzo
Marguerite character on "The Haunting" - Simone Simons (Courtesy of Transmission Records)
The Usher at the Theater and Mayor of Gatesville - Geoff Rudd
Helena character on "Memento Mori" and "Abandoned" - Mari
Baby Alena on "Soul Society" - Annelise Youngblood
D-bass on "Abandoned" - Andre Neygenfind
Oboe on "Memento Mori" - Wolfgang Dietrich
Rodenberg Symphony Orchestra
Kamelot Choir: Herbie Langhans, Amanda Somerville-Scharf, Michael Rodenberg, Gerit Göbel, Thomas Rettke and Elisabeth Kjaernes


Next review: » Kamelot - The Expedition
Previous review: » Kamelot - Silverthorn





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