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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Kamelot: Ghost Opera

Year released: 2007
Label: SPV/Steamhammer Records
Official website: http://www.kamelot.com


1. Solitaire [1:00]

2. Rule the World [3:41]

3. Ghost Opera [4:06]

4. The Human Stain [4:01]

5. Blücher [4:04]

6. Love You to Death [5:13]

7. Up Through the Ashes [4:59]

8. Mourning Star [4:38]

9. Silence of the Darkness [3:43]

10. Anthem [4:25]

11. EdenEcho [4:13]


Sorry about the long hiatus once again, I've had a spout of injuries and ailments while Shadori has had to deal with... positive changes to his relationship status (guess I've got the worse karma), so yeah, major adjustments in life. But now I've overcome the mental inertia of not posting anything for the past weeks by talking about one of my absolute favourite bands ever. Not that Kamelot isn't famous enough as one of the most prominent power metal bands around.

With 8 studio albums and 3 live albums under their name, Kamelot has been around for quite some time and with few line-up changes, save for the significant change in vocalist early on to their current charismatic opera-trained frontman, Roy Khan, and the more recent inclusion of Oliver Palotai as a full-time keyboardist, has been very consistent in their aesthetic brilliance. This is in spite of the fact that they have never particularly limited themselves within any genre and have developed their signature sound to be somewhere vaguely between power, symphonic and progressive metal.

This American band (albeit with a Norwegian singer and a German keyboardist) has gone down a markedly different path than its previous works, however, with Ghost Opera sounding exactly like its name suggests: more eerie and dark but also more symphonic, ultimately being less thought-provoking and discarding Kamelot's more energetic and powerful elements. As Kamelot's first album featuring a full-time 'boardist, it accentuates Oliver Palotai's talented keyboarding very much but perhaps at the expense of Thomas Youngblood's guitar prowess. While he continues to craft catchy riffs and intricate solos like at the start of "Rule the World" and in the middle of "The Human Stain", the only real guitar-driven song is "Silence of the Darkness" and otherwise, Youngblood just spends much of his time chugging along with Glen Barry's bass. There's nothing really wrong about this, just a difference in style, depending how each individual listener likes it.

Lyrically, Ghost Opera is a far cry from its immediate predecessors Epica (2003) and The Black Halo (2005), which were 2 parts of an epic philosophical concept story which not only managed to sound incredibly poetic but also intriguing enough for you to actually linger and ponder over what is being sung. The lyrics of this album, while still exceptionally beautiful, seems more personal and emotionally driven, which makes it more forgettable I guess. But it doesn't really matter all that much when we look at who's singing these words. I always tell people, anyone who doesn't appreciate Roy Khan's voice has seriously got to be tone-deaf. His soulful voice and dramatic singing, like he's carefully unfolding the next line to every story, is one of the main strengths of Kamelot and the largest motivation for getting this album. Listen to "Love You to Death" and you'll see just how profound the depth of emotion can go into his singing. Or "Anthem", which, in the absence of any rhythm instrument at all, is really just all about his voice.

From left to right: Thomas Youngblood (guitars), Oliver Palotai (keyboards), Roy Sætre "Khan" Khantatat (vocals), Casey Grillo (drums) and Glen Barry (bass)

Really, this is a great album- maybe not as awesome as Kamelot's older stuff, but then if I had to review The Black Halo, I'd probably give it 11 out of 10 (taking into account that I'm biasedly a worshipper of Kamelot XD). Its hauntingly beautiful, and after a few listens, it'll grow on you. This isn't powerful, energetic metal, but it is surreal art.

Below is the official music video for "The Human Stain", which is personally my favourite song from the album, and one of my all-time faves for all Kamelot songs.

Verdict: 9.2/10

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