Sound — 9
I think the best way to do this would be to go song-by-song. I will point out right here that in comparison to the other albums of theirs I own, this one doesn't seem as guitar-heavy, but have no doubt that everything on this album lives up to The Black Halo. 01.Solitaire: this track is really just an extended intro. It features a solo violin leading directly into the first full track. 02.Rule The World: this song features the violin playing a little after the verse & chorus. The guitars enter heavily in an almost Metallica-esque rhythm. The solo is outstanding, if a little short. The lead-up to it and the rhythms after it are outstanding passages. 03.Ghost Opera: the title track lives up in every way to the first few seconds and every expectation I held for it. The symphonic element of the band takes a lead spot here, contributing lovely melodies (which are surprisingly metal) over a heavy guitar riff. The passage leading up to the solo preapres you for greatness and does not disappoint. The solo is one of my all-time favorites and really shows how tasteful a musician Thomas Youngblood really is. 04.The Human Stain: a guitar intro leads into a nifty little melody. I personally felt this song was a little lacking, probably because it followed a brilliant title track. The guitar work here is interesting, but it gets repetetive. 05.Blucher: the 'u' ought to have an umlaut over it, but I can't write that in. The first minute is devoted to what sounds like German dialouge in an airplane. The riffage in this song is interesting and well done. 06.Love You To Death: this is the second-softest song on the album. It tells the story of a romance torn asunder by an untimely death. The guitars take a backseat, leaving keyboardist Oliver Palotai to form lovely melodies over a steady, soft drum pulse. Also featured is Amanda Sommerville as the female vocals, 07.Up Through the Ashes: this song is one of the best on here, I think. The intro prepares the listener for the almost hateful singing Roy Khan injects into the song. As always, nothing here is lacking in the least; this band is one of the strongest I've ever heard. 08.Mourning Star: I don't know why, but I never listened to this song much. It is a good track (as if I expected a bad one at this point). A Gregorian chant leads directly into guitar riffage and symphonic melodies all over the place. The singing is above-par once again. 09.Silence of the Darkness: another track that has few listens from me. In lieu of a guitar solo, this one features a great keyboard solo following two-and-a-half minutes of solid power metal. Overall, a good track, if a little forgettable. 10.Anthem: this track is the lightest and softest on the album. Overall, a good track, but I think in comparison to the fast riffs from the last track, it seems too long to me. 11.Eden Echo: The closing track is excellent in every sense of the word. It begins powerfully and never lets the listener's attention stray. The piano interlude towards the end is just right. An excellent way to end the album.
Lyrics — 9
Here is something I rarely encounter: Roy Khan is a capable, operatic singer in metal. Let that sink in: a male opera singer in a metal band. If you've listened to their earlier albums, he is perfectly in tune here almost without flaw. The only weak point in his singing is on Anthem - there are some notes that should be left to sopranos. Speaking of which, the guest singers, Amanda Sommerville and Simone Simons (of Epica), are perfectly suited for their roles and are flawless as far as I can tell. The lyrics range from the power-hungry anthemic words in Rule the World to Biblical themes in Up Through the Ashes to a wounded romance in Love You to Death.
Overall Impression — 10
The Black Halo set the bar very high for Kamelot's next album. Ghost Opera cleared that bar and left it in place for the next challenger. As power metal goes, these guys are among the best in the genre, hands down. The first two full tracks really set the mood and leave the listener anticipating more great tracks, and at no time will one be disappointed. If I lost my CD, I wouldn't worry greatly because I have a digital copy, but I think the guy who took it would suffer a little (more likely a lot).