Saturday, October 27, 2012

Kamelot : Sliverthorn

So lets go ahead and get the elephant in the room that is Tommy Karevik out of the way. The bottom line is he isn't as bad as I thought he might be. Primarily because of the Roy Khan impersonation, not as convincing as the old Alice in Chains trick they pulled with much better results due to Jeryy Cantrell's heavy harmonies. There are frequent guest vocals and choral vocals as well as studio tricks but his rather star search like vocal tone has more in common with James Labrie than Geoff Tate who I associated as an influence of Khan. The YouTube videos didn't lie and he has a more generic rock sound than Khan who's voice was darker in some way.

I started writing this review on my second pass through on the album, so began to notice sections which took on a happier prog metal element that I don't like because it reminds me of Europe, though I suppose they are going for more of a Helloween feel. I associate it with what I don't like about bands like Stratovarious and Hammerfall, though this album is not as shreddy or obviously metal as those.

Now on my fourth pass through I think I can have a more even handed listen.
"Sacrimomy" is one of the albums better tracks so a fitting opener, they are going for another " march of Mephisto" as The Agonist vocalist Anissa Gluz does her best Shagrath impersonation, so there's a lot of mimicry going on, as Amaranthe vocalist Elize Ryd doesn't have a distinct style of her own but tries to be a metal Sarah Brightman, fitting as the new singer Tommy was inspired to start singing after he hear Phantom of the Opera...the Andrew Loyd Weber musical not the Iron Maiden song.

The problem with this song that is more forgivable seems like the made a table of possible power metal chorus progressions and just rolled a twenty sided dice to pick them, they are very generic for the genre see Symphony x for way to happy and frolicking for me where Roy Khan vocals had tighter hooks and don't sound so obviously European Festival in the rousing fist pump.

"Ashes to Ashes " works for me even though the bridge had a very radio hrs rock feel to it like Trapt or Lost Prophets mixed with Dream Theater. Granted Kamelot has a big itch to scratch as they are only of the only bands I still listen to who do the whole symphonic power metal thing , aside from Night Wish.

"Torn" the melodrama goes up a notch and the stage fans really start blowing the frilly pirate shirts once the chorus kicks in where the problems occurs and it begins to become a test in how high my threshold for cheese. The progressive metal label once tabbed to the band is even more unfounded as songs are even more straight forward than the previous two albums

"Song for Jolee" the ballad I knew was coming, isn't as offensive as I was braced for. Sure there's the whole Dream Theater almost Styx element, I like what is voice does on this one and might even say I like him as a balladeer better than Khan, just not better for Kamelot.

"Veritas" yTakes a darker turn like classic Kamelot and chorus isn't as offensive as the bulk of the albums the counterpoint the chorus the choir provides helps ns the "you will confess I am god" hook works well. This one gets in and out pretty quick so there not chance to muck it up with too much cheese.

"My confession" stays darker in the verse , with the chuggy pre chorus but were turn to the twenty sided dice for the chorus. I know Youngblood is the bands primary song writer so I began to think this is more of his doing and the new kid just came in and sang pre-written melodies, which explains the blandness because I session singer never holds as much emotional investment as one who shares in the song writing process. His girlish head voice which pops up before the guitar solo is one of the few original moments on Karevik's part.

The title track lays on the symphonic element from the get go. The get s heavy in a ghost opera sense. The chorus here skips going to the default dice roll though this one isn't very compelling, as it's more of the same.the choral break midway through is different bunch stays consistent with the more of the same feel to the album. The guitar blazes into attempt change, but it doesn't feel heavy at all.

"Falling like the Fahrenheit " clever song title though it's apparent they are trying to re create Ghost Opera here than break any new ground , the lyrics " like the shadows in my head/ you will play that ghost again" take a little different meaning here and I wonder how many of these lyrics are about Khan. The chorus goes slight Dream Tehater but are a little more like a Hoobastank power ballad. The final two minutes there's a brooding symphonic breakdown,another formulaic element to this album.

"Solitaire" starts off with a riff straight from one of the Helloween rip off bands, then the pre chorus gives you a little hope before the dice come out forte chorus. They tease you with the one heavy riff that only pops it head in for the pre-chorus.

The ballads are actually this albums stronger moments now which is an inverse of the Khan years."Prodigal son" is very ambitious but well executed it starts off as almost an aria with Karevik singing in a delicate sotto voce head register. It builds there skimming some of the happy territory I dislike and the guitar solo was a rather uninspired Brian May knock off. The guitar solos on this album seem to be an obligation to the genre rather than ever adding something to the song , they could stand to take a lesson from Karevik's country men the Swedish Shining on this front .

In scoring this album I didn't bother factoring in cinematic opening and closing pieces as they are not really needed. Since I was surprised this wasn't as bad as my fears of a Roy Khan less Kamelot had me imagine, I rounded the score up a half a point to an 8.5 which might be generous considering I don't see this being something I am really going to wear out like "Ghost Opera" which is a clear 10, even with the ballad missteps.

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