Sound — 9
When I first heard about Kamelot through Pandora (an internet-radio website, comparable to lastfm.com), I thought there had been some sort of mistake: This just sounded far too amazing, and there was no way that the band I wanted to be in was already out there! And yet, it was, and though I'm probably the last to hear about these guys, I feel that this CD deserves a review. If you're a fan of music, above the seemingly standard "metalhead" fan base, and you have a healthy respect and admiration even for orchestral music as well as heavy music, then this band is for you. Violins symbiotically harmonizing with heavy guitars and stadium rock vocals, with a drummer that challenges Neal Pert make this band something truly amazing. This album demonstrates the diversity of the band, showcasing their orchestral roots, and ability to mash classical strings with pinch-harmonic guitars. Each track has a lot to offer to the overall album feel, and while they all share the same sound and feel, they are each different, and bring something unique to the listening experience. 01.Solitaire: Solitaire is the introductory song to the album. It hosts some excellently melodic violins in the beginning, with synth keys in the background, that give the song an overall beautiful aesthetic. It's a short, yet beautiful track, that leads directly into: 02.Rule the World: Rule the World is the only track that sounds like it has slightly main-stream qualities to it. The song is heavily guitar driven by a Metallica-esque riff that mixes well with the tasteful repetitive toms in the background. The chorus has some excellent vocals that captivate the listener, and there's a nice key change in the song that has a very nice Steve Vai feel to it, but the best part of this song is definitely the chorus and it's larger-than-life vocals. 03.Ghost Opera: so now we come to the albums namesake, and what could possibly be considered the album's "single". This is the first track I heard from Kamelot that drove me to listen to them in the first place. It has some very nice timings in the beginning, going from a direct 3/4 into a 6/8 and 5/4 trade off, leading in the 4/4 verse. The song definitely has an 'epic' feel to it, but the lyrics are very weak, which is why it's good that the music is so fantastic. A lot of chugging in this song, with some atypical drum work, the strings doing something very subtle, yet very beautiful in the background. The most noticeable and pleasurable part of this song would have to be the intro into the verse. Not the best song, but a very good one. 04.The Human Stain: starting off with an Industrial feel, this bass-driven masterpeice quickly gives way to it's classical roots with a piano-initiated verse. It almost reminds me of Muse at some parts. It's a very busy song with repetitive, but enjoyable segments, and an ever-present choir in the chorus that really makes the song. The guitars are not as present in this song, and the drums aren't doing anything really noticable, but it's an overall ok song. 05.Blcher: one of the albums darker songs, starting out with an audio feed of what appears to be a busy aircraft carrier, then going into a guitar driven intro. The verse is confusing tonally, as the music is doing some strange minor key riff that the vocals don't seem to match. The chorus is beautiful and deadly, but I could do without the verses. One of the weaker songs on the album, with a lot of experimenting on a voicebox. The chorus makes it worth it, but just barely. 06.Love You to Death: from the moment it starts off, this song draws you in. It actually reminds me a lot of the intro from Dead or Alive, by Bon Jovi. It stays pretty captivating, with some very interesting synth, and a female guest vocalist. This is one of the most orchestral songs on the album, with very prominent vocals. You don't see the chorus coming at all. It's characteristically a very good chorus, very "big", and beautiful with a nice key change. The lyrics are strongest here, and they tell a story, which is a nice additive. It has a beautiful acoustic/violin segment with the talented guest vocalist, which quickly follows with a simple, yet superb guitar solo that eventually goes into Iron Maiden style dual-guitars. 07.Up Through the Ashes: another excellent showcase of the violin/guitar mashup! The vocals are very tame here, but also very strong in the song. Once again, the chorus is amazing, with a choir in the background supporting the already stellar voice of vocalist Roy Kahn. The song stays melodically-brutal throughout, and ends with a fantastic guitar peice. 08.Mourning Star: despite the cliche title, this song does not fail to deliver, starting off with a beautiful synth intro with a male choir, remniscent of Gregorian chanters. The song quickly changes styles, with very distorted vocals, and iconic chugging guitars. The chorus once again features a guest vocalist, and a female choir. A good song off the album, but not the best. 09. Silence of the Darkness:starting off with a very familiar sounding guitar riff, this song is one of the more style-esque songs, with a hook around every corner. It keeps your interest with a very interesting riff, and vocals you won't forget. The chorus is sadly slightly boring, and not as good as the rest of the song, but the versus are a good listen. There's a part that sounds like The Doors on drugs... Well, The Doors on stronger drugs than the ones they were already on. A strange clashup of decade-old riffs, and modern guitar sound. 10.Anthem: every generic band needs to have at least one song on their album that is considered gorgeous, and Anthem could fit into whatever film you choose. This piano-driven song is nothing short of beautiful, with the vocals and lyrics fitting in absolutely perfectly. A lot of synth and chimes in this song, which gives it a very uplifting feel while keeping it 'pretty'. My only complaint: It's a tad too long, and gets old a little quickly. 11.Edenecho: edenecho gives you a nice and expected transition from Anthem, making it not as heavy as the rest, but still pretty heavy, and not as melodic as Anthem, but still more melodic than the others. It's one of the more diverse songs on the album, with a more definite Muse feel to it. A nice addition to the album, and a great ending to a great ride.
Lyrics — 6
Sadly, the lyrics are not as up to par with the music, but that can be ignored simply by listening to the overall sound of the singer with the band. It's a perfect fit, beautiful and sonorous, yet deadly and delivering. The lyrics often focus on the nature of human emotion, and the way that it can seem to manipulate the afflicted person's world, in positive and negative ways alike, although they have been known to center themselves around apocalyptic themes, and forgiveness for some ultimate crime.
Overall Impression — 7
Great album. Not the best one out there that features both an orchestra and a heavy metal guitarist, but definitely a great album. The songs are catchy, and beautiful, while being different enough to capture the attention of all who hear. It's got a little something for everyone, and that's what I love about this band; They're not afraid to use a violin in a metal song. Worth buying if you're into slightly more complicated music, but it's hard to listen to if you don't like classical music in any shape or form. I love how it can be melodic and heavy at the same time, but I'm not a fan of the fact that no song sticks out in general as a "favorite", and every song, although great, seems to have a flaw at some point, or at least something that I'd prefer not be there. Not really an impressive album, as far as guitar playing goes, but an overall good experiance.