Released: May 5, 2015
Genre: Symphonic Metal, Power Metal, Progressive Metal
Label: Napalm Records
Number Of Tracks: 13
Symphonic metal titans Kamelot return with a vengeance on their eleventh studio album "Haven."
HavenFeatured review by: UG Team, on june 22, 2015 3 of 3 people found this review helpful
Sound: Lineup changes within prominent heavy metal bands are almost inevitable, and when it comes down to introducing a new lead vocalist the results can be devastating to a band in terms of their commercial success. Somehow Kamelot is one of the exceptions to this rule; this symphonic metal band has always been driven by the sum of it's parts, with longtime frontman Roy Khan being the driving force behind the band for the majority of it's golden years. It was until the release of 2012's "Silverthorn" that the members of Kamelot introduced Tommy Karevik, whose near identical vocal resemblance to Roy Khan allowed for a fluent transition between singers and, unlike most cases where a band releases their first album with a new vocalist, allowed occasional listeners to become reintroduced to a version of Kamelot that seemingly hadn't changed since "The Fourth Legacy."
Continuing to build upon the strength of it's foundation, Kamelot's newly released studio effort "Haven" stands as a proud compilation of neoclassical metal in it's most assertive form. Upon breaking out of the gate with the ferocious themes of "Fallen Star," the album begins to take shape with the high octane "Insomnia." It's almost as though the members of Kamelot have their foot set on the gas with this number; galloping rhythm guitar work, fierce vocal harmonies, engaging symphonic arrangements and protruding bass lines all find their way to the surface here, and it's difficult not to become lost in the complexity of the piece. With find a similar take on this brooding formula on "Citizen Zero," a song centered around eerie artificial harmonics courtesy of guitarist Thomas Youngblood.
Kamelot soon trades their elegant complexity for straight forward aggressive metal on the following track, "Veil of Elysium." There's less of a focus centered towards the arrangements themselves; that attention is instead forwarded to all thrusters, as heart pounding percussion and almost indecipherable rhythm guitar work sets the groundwork for an array of symphony playing and the commendable operatic vocal stylings of Karevik. "Under Gray Skies" introduces articulate acoustic guitar, as well as two guest appearances from Delain's Charlotte Wessels and Troy Donockley from Nightwish. The power ballad/duet feel that Wessels brings to the table doesn't exactly play to the aggressive themes of the preceding "Veil of Elysium," damaging the album as a whole while remaining a memorable standalone track.
A more appropriate example of a fitting collaboration that doesn't interrupt the flow of the effort is "Liar Liar (Wasteland Monarchy)," which is highlighted by the commanding vocals of Arch Enemy's Alissa White-Gluz. Further playing to the notion that "Haven" is essentially the second installment of "Silverthorn," Alissa previously gave a commendable performance on the first Kamelot album featuring Karevik, and similarly returns for not just the aforementioned song but also for the energetic "Revolution," which arrives just before the instrumental finale found on the album's title track "Haven." // 7
Lyrics: Although the instrumental side of the new Kamelot album stands at a level most dedicated listeners should be well familiar with, the driving factor behind this installment is the performance delivered throughout by Tommy Karevik. "Haven" does have a somewhat wild assortment of styles that emerge over the course of the effort, and Karevik plays the role of frontman rather well by tying the entire compilation together with consistently formidable operatics. This degree of familiarity does benefit "Haven" as a body of work, rather than simply formulating songs that are decent upon being individualized. // 8
Overall Impression: Two decades since the release of their debut album, the members of Kamelot are still best represented as a sum of all it's parts. That being said, all parts are operating at full capacity on this latest installment from the symphonic metal heavyweights, "Haven." Although it may have a few rocky moments, the end result is right in line with what longtime fans have come to anticipate from the veteran unit, and a lot of that credit is directed right towards newly appointed lead vocalist Tommy Karevik. // 8
Tap Master, on june 23, 2015 3 of 3 people found this review helpful
Sound: He's no Roy Khan, but he's damn close. And with this second installment under a new era of Kamelot, Tommy Karevik (Seventh Wonder) has proven himself exceptionally fit for this classic power metal outfit. He takes the microphone by storm, delivering gorgeous, soaring timbres on the hard songs and gentle, ethereal tones on the ballads. As for the rest of the squad, you still have the usual lineup, all dominating their respective instruments.
Kamelot are definitely moving away from the gothic rock sound and more towards the fast power metal feel of "Silverthorn." The songwriting is pretty solid here, but the production is top notch. Symphonic power metal is the best power metal, and if balls-out metal with commanding orchestrations is what you like, then Haven is the album for you. // 9
Lyrics: The lyrical quality of Kamelot has decreased a tad with the departure of Roy Khan. The whole concept of "Haven" is that there is a fog (a "Veil of Elysium") over the town or nation or what have you. It comes off a bit like a typical dystopia theme, a motif that has been seriously beat to death across all media in recent years. Another thing that sticks out to me is excessive use of similes (i.e. "like a fly on the wall," "as dark as a fallen star"), which eventually becomes redundant. However, the lyrical rhythms and melodies are written quite well, following that classic quarter-note formula that has made catchy Kamelot choruses ever since "Karma." Trademark Kamelot writing is present on this record, and will no doubt please fans old and new. // 7
Overall Impression: The album plays like a slightly more mature, more progressive "Silverthorn" - no surprise there. It kicks off with probably the best song on the entire record: "Fallen Star." Strong vocal dynamics, catchy orchestral syncopation and monster riffs make this a phenomenal opener. Next comes Insomnia, the second single, which is a more mid-tempo tune but not without a little punch. This and the next song are not terribly strong, but it isn't until we come to "Veil of Elysium," the lead single, that the real power begins. It plays like a reincarnation of "Sacrimony (Angel of Afterlife)," the classic banger from "Silverthorn," featuring the unmistakable Kamelot chorus style. Following is the first and best ballad of the album - an instant classic! - featuring Charlotte Wessels of Delain in an intimate duet with Karevik (and perhaps Troy Donockley from Nightwish - someone can confirm that for me). At this point, the album begins a slow downhill descent. Honorable mentions are "End of Innocence," "Liar Liar" (featuring Alissa White-Gluz) and "Haven"'s eponymous orchestral outro.
Unfortunately, the album plays like it was designed to have a few great songs and then a bunch of fillers. I rate it an 8, however, because the great songs really are THAT powerful. Don't be hesitant to listen to this record; you WILL find something you like. // 8
damillion, on june 23, 2015 2 of 3 people found this review helpful
Sound: When the time came to review Kamelot's previous album "Silverthorn," which I wasn't very impressed with, I concluded my review by stating that judging by Kamelot's track record no first record with a new singer has been among the bands better offerings. So I was curious to find out if the second album with new singer Tommy Karevik (Seventh Wonder) would be a step up from the last one.
However, there was also cause for worry on my end. People who have read my review of Kamelot's previous album are well aware of my feelings towards producer Sascha Paeth's work over the last few years. I think none of his newer productions have enough bite and punch. Before hearing the album I was aware that the band had chosen to once again work with Paeth.
"Haven" is an album I'm very divided about. While it shares all the flaws of the previous album and though my fear about Paeth's production work certainly came true, this album features some cool guitar riffing by Thomas Youngblood and generally stronger songwriting. On "Veil of Elysium" the band shows they're still capable of putting out great symphonic metal without getting overly sappy and sing-along-y. It reminds me a lot of the bands previous work on "Ghost Opera" and "Karma." Both "Beautiful Apocalypse" and "Citizen Zero" showcase some industrial, hard-hitting composing that fits the band beautifully and is a welcome variation from the sappier songs of the album. "Insomnia" and "End of Innocence" are two songs worth having a listen too as well. Orchestration-wise that video game/movie score-wibe that was present on "Silverthorn" has followed into this record and possibly become even more pronounced. // 6
Lyrics: Tommy Karevik is ridiculously skilled at what he does. On a personal note, I'm not a huge fan of his vocal phrasing and sense of melody as it reminds me a lot of cheesy musicals I don't much care for, but there's no denying he is a professional at his craft. That said I'm sure there are fans of Karevik's singing who do not share my criticisms, and they will be overjoyed as his style is intact on this album. In my opinion I think his best vocal performance is found on "Citizen Zero." Concerning the lyrics I don't feel either way about them. There's nothing that stands out in either a bad or a good way. The general theme of the album, according to Youngblood, is "a grey cloud forming over our world." Alissa White-Gluz contributes some clean vocals as well as distorted growls. Her contribution can be heard on two of the weakest songs of the album, "Liar Liar (Wasteland Monarchy)" and "Revolution." // 7
Overall Impression: In conclusion I like this album more than I did "Silverthorn," but the similarities between the albums are greater than the differences. If you absolutely hated "Silverthorn" you're not going to love "Haven," but if you want to hear what Kamelot sounds like with Karevik and want to know which album to pick up to find out this is the one. It's not one of the best albums Kamelot have ever made, and it does have its share of bland and sappy material accompanied by a production often lacking in punch. At the same time it has beautiful moments of anthems and heavy goodness that will be worth coming back to during the following months, if not the following years. // 7