Kamelot were founded in Tampa, Florida, by Thomas Youngblood and Richard Warner back in 1992. There have been some line up changes over the years but the unstoppable creative force of Kamelot symphonic power metal keeps shining bright after twenty years from their debut album Eternity (1995) and twenty-three years on the international metal scene.
Haven is their 11th studio album and it is an incredibly epic-sounding journey to listen to. Produced by Sascha Paeth and mastered by Jacob Hansen it is crafted to perfection and it is indubitably Kamelot from the first to the last beat. Guest singers Alissa White-Gluz (Arch Enemy) and Charlotte Wessels (Delain) bring respectively the power of aggression and a touch of grace to Tommy Karevik’s intense performance on Haven‘s tracklist. It has to be mentioned I really like the consistency of the artwork’s quality of all their discography. The cover and artwork for Haven was created by Stefan Heilemann and additional art/layout was done by Gustavo Sazes.
The album opens on the delicate notes of “Fallen Star”, where the journey begins. It soon picks up pace, with harmonies, choruses and a sustained dialogue between Youngblood’s guitar playing and the signature power metal pounding of the rhythmic section of Grillo and Tibbetts. “Insomnia” takes you to a sci-fi thriller in an apocalyptic world where the only survival granted is for the chosen ones of Wasteland Monarchy. You will soon find yourself singing along to the chorus here.
“Citizen Zero” somehow reminded me of early Queensryche on the opening notes, well, for few seconds at least as they were soon forgotten amidst Kamelot own original sound. This song showcases operatic arias, mean keyboard playing by Oliver Palotai and superb guitar solos by Youngblood. Kamelot can successfully pack so much into each song, that after listening to this album few times I firmly believe they are onto another classic album.
“Veil of Elysium” is a trademark song for Kamelot, it has all the elements we are used to, I like it, but there is not any aspect of surprise here, it is the most predictable of an album that, despite not being innovative or moving away from their previous discography, Haven successfully holds ground to their back catalogue. “Under Grey Skies” opens with Troy Donockley’s Uilleann pipes and all the sweetness of a traditional ballad, Charlotte Wessels does a great job here and the duet with Karevik is a winning melodic piece.
“My Therapy” starts with a darker tone and a singing style that is both has vocal prowess and acting genius; I love that. A good symphonic metal band does a good job when listening to them suddenly take me to another planet. I want it all: out of this world musicianship, and a great story to back it up. “Ecclesia” is a short mood setting intro to “End of Innocence”, a song with some folk elements and resounding choruses echoing in the distance.
“Beautiful Apocalypse” is my favourite track on this album. It starts with some middle-eastern influenced style lines (anybody knows Loreena McKennitt here?) while mixing symphonic power metal with a touch of industrial metal too. It screams sci-fi to me and has some fantastic percussion throughout. Judging by ear, I think the clear singing is from Alissa on this one, this is definitely the one song that would really win me over on a live show….Scotland is waiting for you!
“Liar Liar (Wasteland Monarchy)” follows. It hosts another beautiful solo from Youngblood’s repertoire, matched by a similarly grand keyboard part and some brutal vocals from Alissa White-Gluz for good measure.
“Here’s To The Fall” has the breath and depth of a reflective moment in the unravelling of Haven‘s storytelling. If Nightwish and Kamelot had an offspring they could call it “Revolution” which is next on the track listing; asking Alissa to contribute to this song was great forward thinking, she brings a raw energy to the otherwise balanced compositions of this release. It is like adding a primordial vibe to an epic journey that is way too fast reaching its end with Haven, an instrumental epilogue and the closing track from this album.
After thirteen songs, I am still fresh and entertained, the album is on repeat now, I am hooked. It is however softer, more orchestral and symphonic than Silverthorn and I can easily see it as a soundtrack to an actual movie. Bass lines are not that prominent but guitar and keyboards are in a good place and the vocal performances have all the chemistry required. In my opinion it sounds more like a blended organic creation, you need to dig deep to isolate some instruments somehow. It is a very enjoyable album that will not disappoint all the Kamelot’s fans that patiently waited for three years for a follow up to Silverthorn. I love the production and mood of this release; cannot wait for the band to announce a UK tour later this year as they have just kicked off on a world tour, with Dragonforce supporting the North America and US dates. I have seen them before few times but not yet with the new vocalist Tommy Karevik, I think I will be up for a treat.
Haven is available for pre-order now at Napalm Records Webstore in multiple Ltd editions and special bundles. Official Pre-Order Website is www.kamelothaven.com and it will be released May 5, 2015 (North America) and May 8, 2015 (Europe and rest of the world)
- Fallen Star
- Citizen Zero
- Veil Of Elysium
- Under Grey Skies
- My Therapy
- End Of Innocence
- Beautiful Apocalypse
- Liar Liar (Wasteland Monarchy)
- Here’s To The Fall
Current line up:
- Thomas Youngblood – Guitars
- Sean Tibbetts – Bass
- Tommy Karevik – Vocals
- Casey Grillo – Drums
- Oliver Palotai – Keyboards
- Alissa White-Gluz / Vocals
- Charlotte Wessels / Vocals
- Troy Donockley / Uilleann pipes