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Kamelot - 'Poetry For The Poisoned' Hot

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Written by Central Electronic Brain     October 20, 2010    
 
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Too early to tell if it'll have the impact or longevity of ‘The Black Halo', but for now it's enough to know that it just might.

It's actually been a remarkable journey that Florida's Kamelot have embarked upon since hooking up with Norwegian singer Roy Khan, growing from their humble power metal beginnings to being genre-spanning icons with complex arrangements and their own unique sound. It’s been three long years since Kamelot’s last outing ‘Ghost Opera’, which despite being a strong album with some fine individual songs, sadly failed to match the majesty of their epic 2005 opus ‘The Black Halo’, which summed up the symphonic, progressive and power metal genres in one complex package. They just seemed to get everything right with that release and almost every track became a live favourite, but it was almost like it could also become a millstone around their necks. On ‘Poetry For The Poisoned’ they’ve taken another leap forward with even more adventurous arrangements and the occasional use of industrial sounding loops and samples, but it still sounds like the Kamelot we know and love.

From the opening strains of ‘The Great Pandemonium’ it’s obvious that the band are thinking in panoramic terms with even bigger dynamics and a more dramatic delivery, Khan’s rich tenor augmented by operatic female vocals and the death growls of Soilwork’s Bjorn ‘Speed’ Strid, whilst the music ebbs and flows from powerful riffs to beautiful orchestral melodies and back again. Basically it’s everything Kamelot are about condensed into one song. The modern samples make their presence felt amongst the ensuing tempo changes of the eastern-tinged ‘If Tomorrow Came’, and the raw vocals that duet with Khan on the majestic light and shade of ‘The Zodiac’ are none other than Jon Oliva.

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One of many highlights would have to be ‘Hunter’s Season’ with its memorable chorus, Casey Grillo’s double-bass drum work and manic guest solo from Firewind/Ozzy guitar virtuoso Gus G., but even that is eclipsed by the duet between Khan and Epica’s Simone Simons on the simply wonderful ‘House On A Hill’. There’s plenty more where that came from with ‘Necropolis’ riding on a slower stomping rhythm and dual vocal parts, the haunting female vocals of Amanda Somerville on ‘My Train Of Thoughts’ and the four part epic title track, which covers more ground musically than most metal bands do in their entire careers. The album ends in typical Kamelot style with the memorable ‘Once Upon A Time’, which is actually one of the few tracks that hit me immediately, some of the others only started to sink in after a few plays, but for me that’s generally a good sign.

With ‘PFTP’ guitarist Thomas Youngblood and Roy Khan have written an album that vies with ‘The Black Halo’ as the definitive Kamelot CD, and whilst it may lag behind its predecessor in originality (some of its melody lines and riffs may be just a little too familiar for long time Kamelot fans!), it more than makes up for it in sheer scale and grandiose execution. Long-time producer Sascha Paeth has skillfully put together an amazing number of different sounds and created a powerful whole that takes the Kamelot sound into the next decade. It’s too early to tell if it’ll have the impact or longevity of ‘The Black Halo’, but for now it’s enough to know that it just might.

Phil Ashcroft

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