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Two years ago, American power metal band Kamelot released their critically acclaimed masterpiece The Black Halo. They were already quite well-known, but that album had something special - it was so unique, musically, lyrically and atmospherically, nothing has really sounded like it before or since. How do you follow up such a monumental record? Kamelot knows, oh yes they do.
Opener Rule the World greets us with one of the band's heaviest riffs to date, and then for about 48 minutes Ghost Opera just continues to bring the listener the high quality metal we have come to expect from this band. The gothic influences are more prominent, and the power metal feel overall has been drastically reduced. The atmosphere is not really as dark as on The Black Halo, even though practically all of the lyrics deal with death or sorrow in some way. I also find Ghost Opera to be catchier than previous releases - it won't take many listens before the choruses are stuck in your head, I guarantee you.
There are, of course, also a couple of ballads on here. First we have the very gothic sounding power ballad Love You to Death, which is a really beautiful song. The other one is an orchestral piece called Anthem. It lacks any form of powerful guitar but relies instead solely on the incomparable voice of norwegian vocalist Khan, whose performance on this record is just as outstanding as anything he has ever done. He might just be the best singer in metal - ever. The other members do their job just fine too: Guitarist Thomas Youngblood gets to play some excellent solos, the limited edition bonus track The Pendulous Fall being a great example. Bassist Glenn Barry does a great job in the industrially flavoured The Human Stain, and the drum fills of Casey Grillo in Rule the World are astonishing. The newest addition to Kamelot, German keyboard player Oliver Palotai, is brilliant - when I saw Kamelot live not long ago he was remarkable, and on Ghost Opera he gets to be heard a great deal, even getting a (to be honest, quite unnecessary) solo in Silence of the Darkness.
But this album has its flaws, of course, just like everything else. My main problem are the lyrics - they just don't even come close to the intelligence, depth, complexity and sheer fucking emotion of those from its predecessor. And that can actually be said about the music on here to, but only when comparing to The Black Halo - it's too simple. But still, Ghost Opera might surpass Karma as the second best album by these melodic metal kings - when listening to songs like Love You to Death and The Pendulous Fall you can't argue that this is yet another worthy addition to the Kamelot catalogue. Most impressive.