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What happens when a good band runs out of ideas - 20%

ijy10152, July 7th, 2012

Ghost Opera is only a decent album. I has several songs that absolutely require the skip button, though it's saved by having three of my favorite power metal songs ever on it. Ghost Opera, Rule the World and Eden echo are great songs. This album has one maybe two even remotely decent songs (more on that later). It's sad when a band as good as Kamelot whom released one of the greatest power metal albums of all time (The Black Halo), can release something so incredibly boring and bland as this. I hate how Roy Khan, one of the greatest power metal vocalists of all time just managed to be so incredibly boring on this album. He barely goes for any high notes and he pretty much stays in that mid range singing some really, really bland chorus's.


Where to begin... Well I suppose I'll start off with the high points (of which there are not very many). The Great Pandemonium and Necropolis are the only songs I actually enjoyed from this. You might notice that these are the only songs from this album they play live. These two are only mildly entertaining and there is enough good Kamelot material where these would be the last songs I would pick out of the good ones. Seriously, The Great Pandemonium is the only, and I mean ONLY memorable song on this; it's got a decent chorus though by Kamelot standards very average. Necropolis isn't really that memorable, but if you take the time to listen to it it's not half bad. It's one of those slow but epic songs that no power metal album is complete without. The rest of this is barely even listenable. The Zodiac had promise, but ruined it with the awful guest voice trying to be shagrath and failing badly. The rest of this is very unmemorable and just boring. There are almost no fast songs on this except Once Upon a Time and parts three and four of Poetry for the Poisoned. Once Upon a Time has such an INCREDIBLY generic chorus it would be laughable if it weren't so sad. With Poetry for the Poisoned they were clearly going for something similar to Elizabeth, but it epically failed; mainly because again, Roy Khan refuses to go high at all. Also The individual parts are so short and the the longest one is a ballad (of which there are already enough of in this album). Part 4 could actually have been a redeeming part of this album, but because it's so short and unmemorable I'm not giving any points out for it.

Kamelot's ship has sailed, they were once a great power metal band with four REALLY good albums in a row and one decent one with a couple of classics ending the streak. This one has made it quite clear that Thomas Youngblood has lost his creative touch and I think that the rest of the band needs to step in and help write their future albums more. It might be a little sad that Roy Khan left the band, but personally I think the sound they had with him is done. They got some great material out of their time with him as lead singer, but it's clear that Thomas has no idea what to do with his voice anymore.

This album was way over hyped as well as misrepresented by using The Great Pandemonium as the live song to play before the album's release. I really hope that Kamelot can get back on their feet with a new singer and really write some new and different stuff because I was kind of getting tired of their sound that they've been using since the 4th legacy. This is definitely their worst album to date and not only shouldn't be bought, it shouldn't even be looked at. It should be buried under several layers of rock and cement, never to see the light of day again.

When the sudden glory is gone - 52%

Metal_Detector, May 3rd, 2012

No streak can last forever. Eventually Queensryche released Empire, eventually Septic Flesh (as they were officially known back then) unveiled the misguided A Fallen Temple, and eventually Coroner came out with... okay, so that's one officially spotless band. In the tradition of the aforementioned disappointments, Kamelot delivered this half-baked mess after one of the most staggering strings of stupendous albums in power metal's existence. Everything from Karma (and not a note before) to Ghost Opera was melodic metal gold through and through, especially The Black Halo, a perfect record that I consider to be among the greatest ever produced. I once thought of 2007's appropriately titled Ghost Opera as a watered down misstep, but my opinion of it has only grown with time. Unfortunately, after one and a half years, I cannot say the same for its followup, Poetry For the Poisoned.

As with the Nevermore album also released in 2010, pre-launch signs were ominous. Single "The Great Pandemonium" didn't exactly whet my appetite with its annoying whispered vocals or completely forgettable chorus; and although I like his work for other bands and love his musical work for his own group, I never could quite dig the confusingly dark cover art penned by Septicflesh's Spiros Antinou here. Seriously, what the hell is that and what is it doing on a Kamelot album? Upon finally listening to it in full, however, I found it all too reflective of the music held within. The most important element of Kamelot apart from the obvious, melodic curb appeal is undoubtedly the uplifting and often passionate emotional quality that goes into their music. That's simply missing here. It's all been hidden under some dark veil of false maturity, succumbing to mild-mannered ennui. The liveliness, the joy, the energy... for the most part, they're missing or at least obscured to the point of near absence.

Of course, in a simpler observation, the actual songs are neither as effective nor as memorable as on earlier efforts. First of all, many are simply recycled with lesser results. "House on a Hill" is the obligatory power ballad with female vocals, but it doesn't even get close to the beauty and emotion of previous tries like "The Haunting" or "Love You to Death." "Once Upon a Time" is a carbon copy of previous fast, energetic numbers "When the Lights Go Down" and "Silence of the Darkness," but this time the fun and bounciness is out of the picture. Such shortcomings are technically intangible, but when one experiences a record as free from feeling as this, there's really nothing else to say. The lowest point of the record comes with the four part title track, which is a confused and ultimately pointless attempt at being progressive. After wasting too much time with trying to be fancy and profound, the song just awkwardly fades into oblivion. It's all too weird for this band, and not in a good way.

Not all is bad, however, and I shouldn't make it sound as if Poetry For the Poisoned is some type of irredeemable travesty of the ages. Some embers of the blinding light we're accustomed to from Kamelot still flicker here and there. "The Zodiac" is a powerful and atmospheric tune helped by the legendary vigorous guest spot of Jon Oliva, and one of the only forays into self-aware darkness included that doesn't utterly fail. "If Tomorrow Came" is a strange but efficiently modern piece that shows a an odd side of the band. "Necropolis" possesses something largely absent from the rest of the proceedings: a riff, and a tasty Crimson Glory-like one at that. My favorite track is probably "Hunter's Season," a great power metal anthem that rolls as easily as anything else here. For one sudden flash, I could have sworn I saw the glory and prowess once so strong in this band; but alas, it's all too brief and we're stuck with the rest of this soggy setlist.

Production-wise, everything is softer and more theatrical this time around, taking Ghost Opera's style and draining it of almost all of what made it interesting. Roy Khan's talent and range have sadly deteriorated over the years, but never have I noticed his inadequacy as I have here. Reluctantly I must say that his departure from the band might end up being a blessing in disguise. Hell, even the lyrics are worse. Where there were once eloquent stories of passion and pain (sometimes conceptual), Poetry For the Poisoned regresses into simplistic and often excessively enigmatic musings--rather ironic for an album with the word "poetry" right there on the cover. It all comes together as one cohesively mediocre, mundane release. I'd count it among my most significant musical disappointments, and a release that I'm definitely not confident Kamelot can come back from. To use a cliched expression, Poetry For the Poisoned sounds like a shark-jumping to me, and one that leaves a rather bitter taste after ingesting its poisoned contents.

(http://metallicfaithimmortal.blogspot.com/)

Across the Lake of Avalon - 89%

Twisted_Psychology, October 23rd, 2011

Originally published at http://suite101.com

Kamelot is another one of those bands that has gotten a lot of respect in the power metal scene for their balance of adventurous experimentations and great songwriting skills. 2007's Ghost Opera continued this trend, though it met minor controversy for seemingly moving away from power metal in favor of a more electronic/gothic approach.

In a strange response, the band's ninth studio album serves as a further extension of past experiments. In addition, it is the first Kamelot album to feature original Sean Tibbetts, who had left the band during its early years but has recently returned to replace his old replacement Glenn Barry.

As previously mentioned, this is easily the band's most experimental album to date and may be rather difficult to classify as a power metal album. There are still a few familiar moments of this nature on tracks such as If Tomorrow Came and Once Upon a Time, but even these only seem to last for rather short periods of time and soon way to slower flourishes.

Instead, the gothic elements of the past few albums have been expanded even more as songs are built around mid-tempo riffs, memorable choruses, and dark atmospheres. Of these tracks, opener and leading single The Great Pandemonium is the most memorable thanks to its bass driven verses, infectious chorus, and liberal use of harsh and whispered vocals.

Also worth noting are the slower tracks such as House On A Hill as well as the epic title song that spans over four separate tracks. The latter's divisions are somewhat unnecessary in comparison to the band's previous suites, but they do not detract from this particular suite's quality.

Despite the changes that have been implemented, the album's actual overall structure doesn't stray too far from past efforts. The Great Pandemonium recalls a cross between March of Mephisto and Rule the World, If Tomorrow Came plays out like a more electronic version of Ghost Opera's title track, the Poetry for the Poisoned suite reminds one of Momento Mori and the Elizabeth trilogy from Karma, and the closing Once Upon A Time is a more toned down version of Serenade and Eden Echo.

While the structure may lead some listeners to wonder if the band is merely repeating themselves, the use of this familiar motif does help to make some of the more unconventional elements easier to digest.

With all this going on, the band puts on an overall competent performance. The various keyboards and sound effects provide a great deal of atmosphere without getting in the way of the other instruments and the rhythm section gets plenty of chances to shine along the way.

Founding guitarist Thomas Youngblood may be one of the band's leading members, but the guitars on this album are somewhat underwhelming as they are mostly based around mid-tempo chugs and fairly simple solos. However, the riffs themselves are effectively composed and fit the songs better than any faster outbursts would.

But like all the other Kamelot albums that have come out since Siege Perilous, vocalist Roy Khan is the band's strongest member and carries the songs well with his commanding presence. He also shows a lot of variety as he whispers, wails, croons and processes his voice to great effect.

Speaking of vocalists, this album follows the tradition of recent Kamelot albums featuring a great slew of guest performers. In addition to the expected contributions by the talented Simone Simmons of Epica, we also see some appearances from other great figures in the power and extreme metal genres.

Of all these appearances, the contribution made by Jon Oliva of Savatage on The Zodiac is the most exciting as the song is greatly strengthened by his demonic snarls. The cameo appearance by Bjorn Strid of Soilwork on The Great Pandemonium is pretty cool as it echoes the March of Mephisto's sentiments quite nicely.

In a way similar to Iron Maiden's recent material, this is an album that may be a little harder to get into than previous Kamelot releases overall and has potential to be an even controversial effort than Ghost Opera.

It is hard to say where it can placed in the band's overall discography, but it is another great release that continues the band's tendency to intrigue, confuse, and ultimately satisfy listeners of various genres. But for the unfamiliar listener, I would highly recommend checking out The Black Halo before going here.

Current Highlights:
The Great Pandemonium, If Tomorrow Came, House On A Hill, Poetry For the Poisoned, and Once Upon A Time

More of the same, unfortunately. - 65%

hells_unicorn, February 2nd, 2011

It is all too common for fans of a band’s older album to come to a new release in a somewhat different direction with an innate sense of skepticism. Speaking for myself, this occurred with Kamelot when “Epica” was released, as it sparked a period of conceptual album writing that has offered up mixed results. Although said album was largely an endeavor in maintaining the band’s winning formula as heard on the first 3 albums put out with Kahn at the helm, it marked the beginning of a decline into a modernity of sorts that saw a side interest in electronic music and a more pop oriented character, albeit one that caters to the Hot Topic end of the mainstream paradigm. This alone doesn’t necessarily make an album bad, but it definitely testifies that something is wanting apart from image and promotion.

While the deepest fissure in this gradual decline was observed in “Ghost Opera”, Kamelot’s latest offering “Poetry For The Poison” suffers from a similar problem of centering things too much on techno grooves and vocal melodrama, while cutting back on the glory and triumph. There are a few references to what would resemble power metal orthodoxy amid all the industrial mishmashes in “Hunter’s Season” and “Once Upon A Time”, which tend towards the epic yet somewhat muddled renditions of the band’s sound heard on “Epica”, and are only slightly touched by the modernism pervading most of the album. “If Tomorrow Came” gets into the even more muddled territory of “The Black Halo”, and is loaded with percussive keyboard themes that almost transform the song into rave music, but it retains a strong enough chorus to be enjoyable by those who were hoping for something that cooks at least a little.

The rest of the album pretty well continues down the same road as the previous album, pairing up some good ideas with a barrage of unnecessary interludes and semi-gothic club music elements. “The Great Pandemonium” ushers in yet another in a long series of mid-paced, Middle Eastern influenced marches that first started cropping up in 2005. Suffice to say, it’s a catchy song with a solid vocal performance, but it comes nowhere near the majestic homage to Eastern music heard on “Nights Of Arabia”. There’s also a somewhat heartfelt yet largely redundant ballad in “House On A Hill” that tickles the ears with a few orchestral ambiences, but just doesn’t quite recreate that solemn beauty that “The Sailorman’s Hymn” and “Glory” deliver every time. The majority of what remains is largely forgettable, particularly the slow developing 4 part title song, which falls into the same general trap of overindulging in character acting and instrumental breaks that recurred throughout “Epica”.

There was a time when Kamelot wasn’t loading up their albums with guest slots and unnecessary additives and were actually churning out superior work, but Youngblood and company seem to be content to plant their flag on their current direction. The exodus of long time bassist Glenn Barry has seen the return of brief cofounding member Sean Tibbets (who never appeared on any of their full length albums), but unfortunately a newfound love of a glorious past did not immediately come in with him. This is something that will definitely appeal to newer fans of this band, and to anyone who has been more than lukewarm towards the further mutations in power metal that have been underway since 2003, but its appeal to me is limited. I’m not revolted, but I’m definitely not terribly impressed.

Originally submitted to (www.metal-observer.com) on February 2, 2011.

Kamelot Bounce Back - 85%

metal_bryan, January 7th, 2011

First off, Khan sounds as great as ever. No signs of slowing down for him at all. His performance is beautiful and moving as always, placing emotions into the music you really wouldn't expect at times. He is always the highlight of his albums with Kamelot.

Thomas Youngblood was a bit on the lazy side with Ghost Opera, but this time it seemed like he found new energy and had something to prove. This album is much more progressive even than the previous, but it doesn't fall into the doldrums nearly as often. Sure, there are a few songs that don't have much memorable riffing on the guitar, but those are the ones where the other instruments really shine! As far as his soloing, it's definitely improved and I'd honestly put it on the same level as their best albums in the past.

What an amazing debut for Sean Tibbets on bass! Literally from the first few seconds you can tell an entirely different direction in the band's sound and the bass is very much forward in the writing process for once. As a bassist, and having played with/watched Sean before when he was in Royal Anguish, I knew Sean was an exceptional player. His warm-ups before shows and the seemingly customary bass solo section of Royal Anguish's setlist really highlighted his abilities as a musician. So, for all you Glenn Barry fans out there who really worry about his presence missing from this album, you need not worry at all. Sean Tibbets fills his shoes and busts right out the sides.

Casey Grillo has always been the member of the band who strives to improve with each album and this one is still keeping up to his standards. There are a lot of great beats here with progressive elements outside of what you'd expect from his usual solid power metal performance. Sure, it's a lot of what we know and love from him, but it's the little things that really show on this album and Casey should be very proud. A lot of it had to do with the addition of Sean Tibbets, I'm sure.

Lastly, as with most newer Kamelot albums, there are guest musicians on some songs to make this album that much more diverse and grand in scale. Speed Strid from Soilwork turns in some understated harsh vocals intermittently in the first track and it's quit reminiscent of Shagrath's contribution to March Of Mephisto. Simone Simmons from Epica returns once again to deliver another beautiful performance on a few tracks. She's never out of place in Kamelot. Jon Oliva puts in a great deal of vocals in another track and it's strange to hear on a Kamelot album, yet still very cool and a nice addition. His song definitely grew on me! Lastly, we get a solo performance from Gus. G on a song which is phenomenal, as you might expect.

This is yet another must-buy release for 2010 if you're a prog/power metal fan.

Epic poisoning - 90%

metal_militant, January 5th, 2011

-------Originally written for www.headbangers.in ----------

Yes, it is that rare year again, when power metal giants Kamelot release a new sonic storybook. This time it has been titled ‘Poetry for the Poisoned’. As a band that delivered additive brilliance with every successive release, the expectation from a new effort is of gargantuan proportions. Fortunately, their track record with failing to impress is extremely poor.

The album begins with yet another silent but subliminally heavy intro to a soon-to-become rich epic. ‘The Great Pandemonium’ features Bjorn ‘Speed’ Strid of Soilwork on guest vocals along with Kamelot’s crooner extraordinaire, Roy Khan. As a song, it is a rich selection of riffs that create a consistently epic soundscape, complete with the Middle Eastern feel that ‘Rule the World’ from Ghost Opera had with the keyboards dancing artfully around the string riffs. But there also seems to be a new-found spring in the band’s step. The rhythmic choices have become more daring throughout the album, the writing has advanced a few notches higher than that found on the previous release Ghost Opera and yet has not reached the point where the technique totally bastardizes the mood.

The experimentation is a glaring factor on this album. ‘If Tomorrow Came’ features a hyperfast series of riffs fused with slower and widely-spaced tempos, ‘The Zodiac’ is a more theatrical tune with an emphasis on the emotion of loss and ‘House on a Hill’ is the quintessential Kamelot ballad but is also an experiment with heaviness of mood through heaviness of harmonics. The other big experiment on this album is the title track ‘quadrology’ (for want of a better word). Instead of having a mega opus, Kamelot broke the track ‘Poetry for the Poisoned’ into 4 Acts. Each act is of varying length and serve more as the chapters of a book, where the duration decides the impact on the listener. Every song has a different mood to it but they all seem to have a centralized theme of knowledge and its impact on the human mind.

There are a few experiments also with environmental and dialogue sounds. For example, the commentary on the Incubus on ‘Poetry for the Poisoned Act 1: Incubus’. There is also the filler track ‘Dear Editor’ which is entirely almost a film soundtrack with no music. It features a digitized voice introducing himself to an ‘editor’ as The Zodiac, most probably a direct reminder of the infamous Zodiac murders in the United States during the 1970s-1980s, the identity of the killer having still not been discerned.

Each and every track on this album tells a small story and adds to the bigger ‘book’ that the album represents and embodies. The songs are heavy both in sound and in emotional content and sound very relevant. Lyrically, this album truly is poetry. But anything poisonous about it? Definitely not. Another brilliant work of art by Kamelot.

Kamelot - Poetry For The Poisoned - 60%

ConorFynes, December 27th, 2010

While I'm of the belief that the speed and grandiose leanings of power metal has been to-date, a game for the Europeans to dominate, there are usually exceptions to any rule. Although they possess a very European sound about them, American act Kamelot are one of the few bands on the Western side of the Atlantic that I care about, and one of even fewer that rank as being kings in power metal. With each new album now, the expectations of their fans are always high, but the band generally manages to uphold their level of quality. 2010's 'Poetry Of The Poisoned' offers nothing new to Kamelot and shows very little development to their sound, but as usual, this band creates a very melodic, epic piece of work that should please the majority of their fanbase, and possibly catch the ear of a few more fans.

As with many of Kamelot's releases, there is the impression here that the songs are bound by a concept and storytelling narrative, although the lyrics and subject matter seem to dart around quite a bit more than usual for the band. Opening with the single-worthy 'The Great Pandemonium,' the listener is instantly brought on a dark, yet very melodic journey. The musical highlight here and throughout many of the songs is always the beautiful operatic tenor voice of singer Roy Khan, whose voice shows little sign of aging, and belts each note out with either grand force, or a vulnerable beauty. A soaring chorus, an exotic central riff and plenty of effective melodic hooks baked into the symphonic structure of the music works very well. Most of the other great songs on 'Poetry For The Poisoned' share the same strengths as the opener, including the intense second track 'If Tomorrow Comes' and the beautifully dynamic 'The Zodiac.'

Unfortunately, there are a handful of tracks here that don't share the same memorable quality, and therefore pale in comparison to the tracks that came before, despite the majority of the songs here sharing a similar formula. The fact that there is little variety beyond the operatic, melodic and chorus heavy anthems can lead to the album feeling a bit too one-tracked for it's own good, despite the fact that the band uses the formula very well. Towards the end of the album is the four-part title track, which despite efforts to give the appearance of being an epic suite, unfortunately isn't. Each track comprising the 'Poetry Of The Poisoned' suite generally sits around the two minute mark, leading one to wonder if it was really necessary to break the piece into sections. In any case however, the suite is welcome due to the fact that it allows the band to break out of their typical song structure, and try something a little bit different, although the suite is no far cry from the rest of the album.

'Poetry Of The Poisoned' is far from an excellent album overall, but the high marks here rest very high indeed, making the album a good addition to their consistent discography. There's no denying that the members of Kamelot are very skilled in their craft, and as one might come to expect by now, their skills and distinct brand of power metal continue to work pleasantly. Now, if only the band would break out of their comfort zone and do something a bit different, something absolutely astounding might be in store.

Ambitious Failure - 60%

Sargon_The_Terrible, December 5th, 2010

This is one of the releases I have been waiting for most eagerly, and now at last it is here: the ninth studio album from the awesome Kamelot. I was one of those who thought that Ghost Opera was a step back from the nonstop brilliance of Epica and The Black Halo, so I was hoping this new one would be a return to that pinnacle. In retrospect I was foolish to expect this, but what can I say? Poetry for the Poisoned takes flaws from the last album and further accentuates them, making for an album that is the weakest of the Khan era.

The music here has become denser than before, and the return to greater complexity after the rather straightforward Ghost Opera is welcome, but the intricacy is not so much added compositionally, but rather through studio tricks and layering of instruments. The last three Kamelot albums have been rather overproduced, only succeeding because the studio fiddling was unable to throttle the strength of the songwriting. But the overproduction has finally reached the point of diminishing returns, breaking the songs up into a billion separate parts and choking off the momentum of the compositions. The whole effect makes the music feel sterile and airless, even if it is a richly layered kind of airless. There are still too many vocal effects on Roy Khan, as they are apparently under the impression that we want to listen to a computer rather then one of the great voices of our time.

Not that there are not good songs here. Opener "The Great Pandemonium" is engaging, even if it is a virtual rewrite of "Rule the World". "Hunter's Season" is a great tune, and "Necropolis" gets back the feel of their best material, even if it does abuse the vocal effects horrendously. A lot of the songs on here are not bad, they just have a kind of flat songwriting – once you get past the first chorus they just repeat, without the surprising leaps and twists that used to be a hallmark of this band. "House on a Hill", "My Train of Thoughts" and "Seal of Woven Years" are all kind of like this – decent melodies, but compositionally they don't really do anything cool. "Dear Editor" is a wretched bit of narration about the Zodiac killer – if the Zodiac killer was a muppet with a squeaky voice. I'm not at all sure what it is supposed to accomplish except annoyance. It doesn't help that the song it serves to introduce is so boring.

The four-part title track is going for epic but really just comes off as shapeless and self-indulgent, with too many parts and not enough substance. I am forcibly reminded of the genuine epics on Epica and The Black Halo, and how much better those are than this, which is an attempt to create epic feeling without genuine emotion.

I hate having to say that Kamelot have made a substandard album, but they really have. The overproduction has reached an egregious level, the songwriting is thinner and less memorable, and Khan continues to obsess over half-tones and vocal effects rather than the singable hooks he is known for. The compositions and melodies are derivative of other, better Kamelot songs, to the point that the whole album has a kind of recycled feeling to it. Disappointing to say the least.

Originally written for www.metalcrypt.com

Kamelot - Poetry for the poisoned - 70%

Radagast, October 31st, 2010

A ripple of excitement always accompanies a new Kamelot CD, but I must admit I approached this one with a degree of trepidation. The gradual shift away from the upbeat power metal style of their breakthrough at the end of the 90s came to a head on 2007’s ‘Ghost opera’, and while it was still a mostly very enjoyable CD it carried the air of one of those warning shot efforts that signal worse things to come in the future.

After all, the down-tuning of the guitars and streamlining of songwriting to the point of over-simplification would have been a recipe for disaster in the hands of lesser musicians, and while I was probably doing the veterans a disservice with my concerns, it was still a worrying wait to see how far they could modernise their well-established style without destroying it in the process.

Now that ‘Poetry for the poisoned’ has finally made its arrival, all listeners nagged by similar concerns can breathe a sigh of relief, as despite a few wobbles it ends up as another worthy additional to the catalogue. The opening couple of songs had me a little thrown, and display the most questionable of stylistic choices, but the CD soon gathers pace from there and, a few weaker moments in the middle aside is overall close to its predecessor in terms of quality.

“The great pandemonium” begins things in slightly unusual fashion, being one of the CD’s more fractious songs, and despite an overall strong chorus and some nice symphonic flurries it doesn’t quite come together properly. What really drags it down though is the guest vocals from Soilwork’s Bjorn Strid, which end the chorus and are also used to plug a few of the gaps in the song’s loose structure, but in the end just confuses things further. I’m not a fan of him as a vocalist in the first place, but then the same could be said about Shagrath on 2005’s “March of Mephisto” and the song survived his presence with ease. Strid simply isn’t as well utilised and sounds a mile out of place, bringing down an already questionable opening track.

“If tomorrow came” is even more dislikeable, hampered by an irritating, buzzing keyboard sound (a rare misfire from a band who normally utilise the instrument with consummate taste) and the listless guitar chugging finally making good on its threat to derail a song completely.

Things immediately start looking up though with the unsettling “Dear editor” interlude that leads into the masterful “The zodiac”. One of the simpler arrangements on the CD, it nevertheless mounts a strong challenge to be crowned the best of the bunch. Khan’s looming vocal performance combines with the crunching guitars and ominous melody to craft a chilling portrayal of the serial killer of the title, but the real triumph comes with Jon Oliva’s understated guest appearance. His brittle voice bursts from nowhere in mid-verse to replace Khan’s smooth tones in a brief and jarring moment no doubt designed to invoke the sudden fluctuations in the mind of a sociopath, and defers esteem to the power of Sascha Paeth and Miro’s imerssive production style.

From here on the songs are in all honesty a little less on the surprising side, but are generally of a high quality and in fact often bear trappings of the more familiar power metal side of the band that has been downplayed over the course of the last 2 CDs, which is no doubt at least partially due to more energetic performances from Thom Youngblood and Casey Grillo.

Both return, on some of the songs at least, to the more intricate patterns they were known for before ‘Ghost opera’, with the guitarist in particular flexing his muscles more than he has in some time when it comes to his solos. There is also a considerable bit more high-speed double-bass drumming from Grillo, a style he had been happy to shy away from I recent years, but one that definitely offers more energy to the songs it is featured on.

Songs like “Hunter’s season” (which features a typically noodle-tastic guitar solo from Gus G.) and “Spell of woven years” evoke that classic romantic Kamelot sound of old, the melodies grand and inspiring, and in the case of the latter, featuring an incredible symphonic intro that is one of the most convincing examples of the style I have yet heard.

There are admittedly a couple more songs that don’t inspire in the same way that most of the CD does, but rather than frustrating like the opening duo, others like “My train of thought” are done in the right style but are just a little forgettable compared to the stand-out tracks.

Thankfully they manage to ensure that things end on a high, starting with the 9-minute-plus title song. Split into 4 parts (and also 4 tracks, seemingly just to piss off users of more primitive mp3 players) it twists and turns in many myriad directions, covering ballad territory, raging instrumental sections and sweeping symphonic arrangements, topped off by a typically stunning guest vocal appearance from Epica’s Simone Simons. The only thing that brings it down a little is the spoken section in “Incubus” where it sounds as though Khan is just reading a Wikipedia article over the song, but on the whole it is a masterful bit of progressive metal and really adds a bit of extra shine to a CD that is something of an inconsistent affair.

When you look at how much attention must have been diverted to this huge song it is maybe understandable how a couple of the others ended up a little uninspired, but on the whole ‘Poetry for the poisoned’ is another successful effort from Kamelot. Continuing to branch out in new directions while at the same time offering a few unexpected throwbacks to their older style, it will no doubt please as many old fans as it wins new ones.

(Originally written for http://www.metalcdratings.com)

Progressive, smooth and emotionless - 65%

kluseba, October 28th, 2010

This is my first Kamelot record. I have bought the album because there was a special offer at my local record store and because I have heard many positive things about this band. I also liked the album cover and was looking forward to listen to the collaborations with the legendary Jon Oliva and Simone Simmons.

As I know listen to this album, I must admit that I expected more. There are many average songs that are produced way too soft and not edgy enough. Roy Khan's voice sometimes sounds too smooth and almost emotionless. The instrumental parts on the album are well done but I'm really missing the emotions in here. This melancholy atmosphere is dominating the whole album and becomes somehow the concept of it. Even after multiple listenings, many songs just don't stay on my mind and aren't catchy or outstanding at all like the very weak opener "The great pandemonium" or "Necropolis". The whole concept and atmosphere of the album grew on me every time I listened to it again, but a real killer is missing on this album.

The most interesting songs on the album are the catchy, dreamy and soft "Hunter's season", the beautiful duet "House on the hill", the diversified and progressive title track "Poetry for the poisoned" that has been cut into four pieces as well as the orchestral and epic "Once upon the time". But none of these songs is an innovating masterpiece or something fresh.

This is a good album to listen to in the background with its smooth atmosphere, but you can also get drowned into its very melancholic atmosphere which is a very positive points. The album only works as a whole piece, but the single songs are quite mediocre and sometimes even boring.

I would not recommend to get introduced to Kamelot with this album and rather choose an older one. I would also only recommend this record to the fans of the band and not to everyone who likes melodic power metal. If you are not sure, you should listen to this album before you consider buying it.

Macabre tales from a morbid orchestra. - 89%

Empyreal, September 28th, 2010

Well, the new Kamelot is finally here after 3 long years of waiting, and is it any good? Okay, okay, stupid question. But how good is it? Well, let’s take a look at the very oddly named Poetry for the Poisoned now that it has finally arrived in my mailbox.

For one, the artwork is just weird as hell, depicting…two pale cyborg-ladies covering their faces with veils while their torsos just seem to be falling apart. It’s a very stylized cyber-goth sort of look that I guess we should have been expecting from this band after the last album was already sort of heading in that direction. But still – weird. The art inside the booklet is equally ornate, with a lot of artsy, demented pictures adorning the lyrics, which are written in different fonts from stanza to stanza, like some kind of a ransom note or something. Any booklet that has a picture of a four armed Hindu idol with the face of a Geisha holding a glowing red orb is at least trying.

The production here is tremendous, big and heavy and clear, and it really accentuates what is so wonderful about this music. Yes, folks, Kamelot has not changed its primary vehicle of musical expression…the music on Poetry is the same brand of cool, soothing melodic metal that they’ve been doing ever since Roy Khan’s entrance to the band. The reasons why this album rules are the same reasons why their last three have ruled – expert poppy syncopation tying together songs and making them memorable as hell, a sleek melodic sensibility that is simple but yet always refined and elegant, and the vocals of Roy Khan, who is one of metal’s finest singers ever with his silky, smooth crooning that is quite simply, absolutely infectious – even though he sings lower and deeper on here than he ever has. Poetry for the Poisoned does not change their tried and true formula, minus a few slightly darker moments. It is the same formula that made Epica and The Black Halo work – no need to fix what isn’t broken, after all. With strong songwriting that sinks its hooks deep into your brain Kamelot work their magic, and thus produces another fine, fine album. It’s a very streamlined take on the Kamelot sound, and simpler, too, but it works.

Opener “The Great Pandemonium” kicks ass with its opaque orchestrations, proggy riffs and hypnotic chorus, and the driving, haunting “If Tomorrow Came” has nothing to envy either, with its excellent verses sending chills down my spine every time. “Hunter’s Season” is one of the standouts, with its simple, mourning motif and cooking metallic guitar acrobatics that explode into a huge orchestration of languishing and sorrow, with a great chorus to boot. This album really does have some of the heaviest, liveliest Kamelot moments yet, as the pulsating, full-throttle prog of “My Train of Thoughts” and the following “Seal of Woven Years” will attest with their hooky, winding choruses and musical accomplishments. Other songs, like the creepy “The Zodiac” and the looming, romping “Necropolis” are cyclical and repetitive, drilling into your head with stomping choruses and slow, searing riff/keyboard combinations. “House on a Hill” is probably the album’s biggest let down, as while it’s not a terrible song, I just expect so much more from a Kamelot ballad. This one is just too simple and doesn’t have the kind of beauty and poignancy I expect from one of their slow pieces. And closer “Once Upon A Time” is a bit of a coming-down after the monolithic title track(s). It’s just too simple, and doesn’t have enough going on musically to justify being the last impression you’ll have of this album. It is pretty catchy though.

The centerpiece of the album is the four-part title song, divided into four separate songs here. It’s a very misanthropic, disjointed piece that comes off like it’s a trip inside the mind of some mental patient locked in a closed-off ward in the middle of the night, longing for some long-ago love. “Incubus” and “So Long” are more complete pieces with ghostly choirs and moving melodic orchestrations – “Show me how it feels to be alive…” – and “All is Over” and “Dissection” descend the affair into chaos and distorted feedback, with Khan’s despairing vocals laid over them in one of his finest performances since Epica. Masterful, really. This piece is pretty dense and complex, but it grows on you, and I really do think it’s the most inspired part of this album.

Undoubtedly this is one of the band’s simplest and most streamlined, catchy albums yet, even topping Ghost Opera in that regard by a little. I don’t think it’s quite as captivating as that album, and definitely not as much as the two before that, but it’s a good album. In a sense it is a step down for Kamelot, and I am sure we could speculate conspiracy theories all day about the band’s intentions and increasing commercial success, but really, they just know what works for them. Poetry for the Poisoned does not reach the heights set by the band on previous efforts, but it does provide an effective album of high quality riffs, choruses and gloomy atmospherics that I think any fan will delight in. Check it out.

Originally written for http://www.metalcrypt.com