Sure it's melodramatic and Tommy Karevik is still in the shadow of Roy Khan, but right from the first song I can tell this is better than what most of the other bands in this sometimes awkward sub-genre of metal. They have a a little more heft in their chug and darkness in their song writing even though Karevik has more of a Broad Way tone and less grit than Khan. The chorus to "Insomnia" is a little on the over done side , but the verses have a multitude of cool colors in its depth. Then the chorus begins to stick with me before the songs over.
There is a more ominous pitch harmonic march to "Citizen Zero" that could have been a song from the Khan era, though the chorus once again has some much pageantry its hard for me to latch onto in first listen and I find the variations in verse to be more interesting. Queensryche used to be one of my favorite bands, and during the Khan years so did Kamelot, "Ghost Opera" is a classic in my book ...for what it is. They get into some Andrew Loyd Weber vocal layers and Dream Theater like synth solos. They succeeded in making something larger than life. The majesty of the massive sound feels like than band is more confident that they can get the job done with out Khan, where the last album there was some hesitation to go as big. Which is what made "Ghost Opera" work and the last album just a more commercial step away from "Poetry For the Poisoned".
They chug almost gets heavy on "Veil of Elysium" until the go all "Final Countdown" on the melody that sweeps in leaving the singer to pick up the pieces on the verse. This song just sounds like every other band that does this sort of thing. Five songs in and it's ballad time. Even worse it's a duet with some Nightwish like female singer. It's more than I can even though technically his voice sounds great on it. "My Therapy" is more along the lines of what I want from this band. The vocals can soar all they want as along as there are balls and it's not too happy. The latter can be a challenge with this genre. This band is unique in the sense the guitarist cares about the songs and is not just looking for the right riff to solo off of .
I'm all for keyboards in metal. Hell, I am a keyboardist, but sometimes not only Kamelot , but many of these power/prog bands use them in a way that puts a coat of cotton candy over the guitar, which is what takes the edge off of "End of Innocence" and the chorus doesn't help this song out much. The band does give me more of what I do want from them on "Beautiful Apocalypse" which might be their best song that Roy Khan doesn't sing on.They come close to keeping up the intensity on "Liar, Liar". It's clear on this album every one has a better understand of how this machine works best. Even when they back off to give Tommy his American Idol moments it works with the song. I think the first guitar solo on the album is on here is as well. They throw in some mean riffs and harsh vocals come in as do female vocals that work better than those on the duet.
"Here's to the Fall" sounds more like an interlude or the intro to "Revolution" than a song in its own right. "Revolution" is another one that packs the kind of punch these guys could get away with always delivering because they throw so many dynamics in. The title track track is pretty much just an outro. I'll give this one a 9 as it's moving in a much better direction than the first album they did with this guy which wasn't terrible, this is just better and worth Khan fans giving them a shot.