KAMELOT is such a tease – they always promise so much, but you never know exactly what you’re going to get. Sometimes your faith pays off, and you get an album like Karma, Epica, or The Black Halo. Sometimes, it all goes up in flames, and you get the gothic/emo metal mess that was Poetry For the Poisoned. Now that my personal perception of the different eras of KAMELOT is crystal clear, let’s talk about the new album, Haven (available May 5 via Napalm Records), shall we?
When Tommy Karevik joined KAMELOT as replacement for Roy Khan in 2012, I had really high hopes for a rebirth of the classic KAMELOT sound, and while I wasn’t completely disappointed in Silverthorn, I also wasn’t that thrilled with it. It was good, and it was a step back from the edge of the emo abyss that the band was teetering over, but it felt like Tommy was trying too hard to be Khan and wasn’t singing with his own voice. On Haven, Tommy really gets his opportunity to stand out and he doesn’t waste a note, unleashing some classic performances that rival his releases with SEVENTH WONDER.
The difference between the two albums is just unbelievable – I can’t tell if the music a little less dark, or if Tommy’s singing is bringing it up out of the shadows. Either way, Haven is a definite step closer to the classic sound, and that’s never going to be a bad thing with me. The music feels punchier with more of an attitude than the last couple of releases, and while it still heavily incorporates the symphonic elements, the power metal song structures, double bass drumming, and solos really come alive. My main disappointment with the disc is the almost complete lack of Sean Tibbetts’ bass; a notable exception is “Here’s To The Fall” which is a slow-paced, almost dirge-like song. The rest of the album lacks any real punch on the low end. I would have liked to have heard more of the bass and less of the symphonic elements that drown it out in the mix. Thomas Youngblood’s solos are much improved over the last two records, and Casey Grillo’s drumming is nice and solid, as expected. Oliver Palotai remains the master of the keys and keeps me coming back for their live shows.
There are some great tracks here. Some of my favorites are the songs that make a sincere effort to bridge the intense power metal sound of earlier KAMELOT with the later darker era like “Veil Of Elysium”, “Beautiful Apocalypse” and “Fallen Star”. “End Of Innocence” has Tommy singing so naturally that I almost thought I was listening to a track by SEVENTH WONDER, and the instrumentals (“Haven”, “Ecclesia”) are very nice little music interludes that move you from song to song seamlessly.
On the other hand, there is one track that I really just can’t stand at all. I tried to like it; I really did. It’s just not happening. “Revolution” feels like a train wreck from start to finish, and really only serves to force in the harsh death/black vocals that KAMELOT have decided need to be on every album. Unless you’re recording a new version of “March Of Mephisto”, stop. Please (fans of Alissa White-Gluz can leave hate mail for me in the form below if you feel the need to vent about that statement).
To sum up – Haven is a really good album. It’s not anywhere near the top of their discography for me, but it’s way ahead of the disappointment of a certain release in 2011 that made me want to gouge out my eardrums. KAMELOT has gone a long way towards winning back my fandom with this release, and I hope that they continue in this direction and get back to their strengths.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “End Of Innocence”, “Veil of Elysium”, “Fallen Star”, “Beautiful Apocalypse”, “Under Grey Skies”