Sound — 9
Ghost Opera' might not be the most diverse album, in terms of musical direction and the overall sound of each song. However, that is because it doesn't have to be; Kamelot have come up with their sound for this album and they plan on sticking with it. They develop upon it across multiple songs while never really branching out in new musical directions (with a few exceptions). Let it be known, though, that the album doesn't suffer because of it. With the opener Solitaire', we are treated to a relaxing violin instrumental, backed with ominous synth-strings. Slowly it builds to a slight crescendo, which flows smoothly into the next track, Rule the World'. Here you can find what to expect throughout the album: heavy and driving guitars, perfectly utilized orchestral backgrounds, powerful vocals from Khan, and drums that, while never really managing to stand out on their own, do compliment the other instruments nicely. The album is littered with tremendous riffs and soaring choruses, which leads to a truly amazing listening experience. Some of the most interesting riffs on the album can be found in Rule the World', Blucher', Love You to Death', and Up Through the Ashes'. There are very few songs that can be considered mediocre' on this album, and those that seem like they might be dipping towards mediocrity are saved by a few great riffs or an interesting twist. The album does seem to sag near the end, most notably with the ballad Anthem, which although serves as a break from the sound of the rest of the album, never seems to live up to its potential.
Lyrics — 8
The lyrics are where the album suffers the most, although they are most certainly not bad, which I think is a testament to the strength of this album. They may not be the most compelling lyrics to ever be sung on a record, but they do provide good stories for each song. The lyrics cover a wide range of subjects, none of which seem very happy or uplifting: isolation, insanity, death, the prospect of lost love, the long, hard journey of life; the list goes on. The reason these lyrics fit the album so nicely rests on the shoulders of one man. The lead singer, Roy Khan, has a compelling voice that fits the music perfectly. He does a spectacular job on this album, as do guest vocalists Simone Simons (of Epica) and Amanda Somerville, who sing on a few songs each. The vocals help set the mood of the album, and never once do they hold a song back from reaching it's full potential.
Overall Impression — 9
This was the first Kamelot album I ever heard, as I tend to not like Symphonic Metal bands. That stands true to this day. This album, however, is spectacular. It is one of only a few symphonic albums that I like to listen to. Everything seems to flow together smoothly and there are minimal complaints. Perhaps the biggest setback of this album is the length of the songs themselves. They all seem to end much too quickly, and I believe there are multiple songs that could have been built upon to make them even better. Aside from that, this is a most enjoyable listen. Perhaps the finest songs on the album are Rule the World', Ghost Opera', Love You to Death', and Up Through the Ashes'. There are no songs that should be skipped as each one seems to hold something special, though some are less special' than others (I'm looking at you, Anthem). If you can get past the similarities between the songs, the short lengths, and the less-than-spectacular lyrics, you'll find yourself a tremendous offering from Kamelot, one that might not live up to the exceptional work of art that The Black Halo' was, but still manages to be one of the (if not THE) finest symphonic metal albums of 2007.