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While Roy Khan joined the band prior to the release of 1998's Siege Perilous, it wasn't until The Fourth Legacy that the band really began to grow into the new era of Kamelot, going for a more ambitious and mature sound. The execution of this sound is largely successful here, though it's clear the band is still experimenting and growing into what they really want to do, which would eventually see itself realized in the unparalleled Epica and The Black Halo. The Fourth Legacy, though, is certainly no slouch, as is evident from the scorching opening riff in the title track, followed by the full use of Khan's absurd range and power. While it's not as focused and carefully constructed an album as some of those that would follow, the sheer energy here is enough to make the listening experience a very enjoyable one.
The best tracks from the album, such as the title track, "The Shadow of Uther," "The Inquisitor," and "Lunar Sanctum," are certainly among the best Kamelot ever wrote, though unfortunately there are some tracks that are merely decent if not outright boring (I'm looking at you, "Glory"). Khan also still seems to be still working on maturing his vocal approach, as despite his wild energy, he never really achieves the passion or conviction of performance that we'd hear on the following 3-4 albums. He's still fantastic, but he sounds like a more standard, if highly skilled, power metal singer than the virtuoso he would later become. The production is also thinner than I'd like, with Khan's vocals being a bit too high in the mix for my tastes and the guitars sometimes lacking crunch, but it's not enough of an issue to call the production truly "bad."
The lyrics here are certainly entertaining as well - not somber and thought-provoking (most of the time), but adventurous and sometimes skirting close to sexual themes in a goofy and adorable way. There is no song that portrays this better than "The Inquisitor," though I really have no idea whether this was intentional or not. I think it would be funnier if it wasn't. Still, with lines like Won't you let me ease your sorrow / Let me guide you through the night..., what else can you be thinking of? Other lines like I will ease your pain / the fire's burning wild or the hilariously brilliant Come all you witches / my procedures are approved certainly don't dispel the idea, and in combination are so suggestive I have trouble imagining the band weren't at least aware what it sounded like. Either way, though, its cheesiness is wonderful, and at the time of the album's release Khan was certainly a virile young buck whose procedures would likely be approved by many of the listeners, male and female alike (myself included!). This feeling is bolstered for me by a comment once made on the official Kamelot forum (when it was still around) of a woman saying "my husband and I played 'The Inquisitor' while we had sex last night."
"Nights of Arabia" also has a brief mention of such themes, albeit in a less physical and more romantic way, with "It's easy to let you feed my nights, someone to touch, someone to hold, someone to feel, someone to love". Granted, sexual themes are no stranger to metal, but they're more often seen in swaggering, sleazy heavy metal bands like WASP, rather than in europower bands, who are more likely to sing about knights and dragons. The context only makes it even more entertaining, though. "Lunar Sanctum," the album closer, is something I"d briefly like to give a specific mention, as it departs to an extent from the sound and lyrical ideas of the rest of the album, presenting a more mature and experimental framework which wouldn't sound out of place on Karma or later albums. Opened by a mysterious, introspective-sounding acoustic guitar riff, the song builds up slowly and dramatically, and the chorus is probably has the most emotional depth of anything on the album. Everything about the song is just very strongly constructed and shows a depth and maturity that, like the album as a whole, serves as a precursor to what the band would do over the course of the next 3 albums. The Fourth Legacy is a rather transitional effort, but it's a good one, and worthy of being kept in the repertoire of any Kamelot fan.
Kamelot isn't a simplistic 'riff and chorus' band, nor are they meant for easy listening. On the surface, they play pretty generic sounding power metal, with some very catchy choruses courtesy of the sleek, smooth voice of Roy Khan, and some light symphonic touches added to give eloquence and class. The guitars are not too heavy nor buried in the mix, making for a perfectly balanced production that really helps the sound. Drumming? Precise, clear, hard hitting beats that are never too generic. So what makes this band different from Rhapsody, Stratovarius, and the thousands of their pre-processed clones?
Well, it's not that clear at first, because this band will first sound like any other power metal band out there. But after adequate listens, you start to notice how everything blends together so well. Most bands seem to have some sort of virtuoso, some key element to their sound that defines them---Axel Rudi Pell's guitars, Jens Johansson's keyboarding, or perhaps Michael Kiske's voice. But Kamelot's entire sound is essential, every musician in their group is absolutely vital to the sound, and each one of them contributes with 110% of their abilities, much like the Norwegian prog masters Pagan's Mind. Their sound is subtle and powerful, not jumping out at you, just waiting for you to listen close enough to appreciate the delights which lie beneath the surface. This band doesn't cater to a mainstream audience, and their music isn't dumbed down so people can understand it easily. I respect that a lot.
The instrumentation here is at a high level, whether it be the Middle Eastern sounds from "Nights of Arabia" to the acoustic guitars on "Sailorman's Hymn", and the power metal bombast of the title track. "Alexandria" blows down the gates with a midpaced, mechanical groove that the band didn't use often (and I'm actually glad they don't). We have to give them credit for expanding quite a lot on the light and fluffy power metal sound they started with. They don't overused the keys, but rather let them provide a sort of backing symphony, giving Kamelot a classy style that bands like Sonata Arctica are severely lacking in. Magnificant. And Roy Khan's voice---absolutely amazing. I doubt Kamelot would be the same with any other vocalist singing in any other style. His voice is not very aggressive, but rather leaning toward a smooth, clean, melodic, slightly deep style that is extremely soothing. He hits his notes perfectly without straining himself or weakening even an ounce. Truly one of my favorite power metal singers.
As good of a band as I think Kamelot are right now, this isn't their best work, mostly due to some inconsistences in the songwriting department. The choruses of songs like "Silent Goddess" could use some work, due to just not being very memorable or long enough. "Nights of Arabia" has a catchy chorus, but it just seems...incomplete, pretty simple for the band. It's energetic and fun though, I'll give it that, and extremely sticky. And then we have the inevitable album "drop-off" period after track 7 (the beautiful "Sailorman's Hymn"). "Alexandria" is annoying and groovy, with a chorus that would be much better if Khan used his soaring, melodic vocals instead of trying to go aggressive on us (see "Across the Highlands" from the next album). "The Inquistor" has some cool guitar work, but mainly has the same problems as the previous track. Khan's more aggressive vocals just don't work at all, no matter how many heavy riffs the band puts out. But after that, things pick up again, and all is fine.
Overall, this is quite a good album from one of the best power metal bands of the 90s. While the songs are not all stellar, who can argue with the soaring melodies and catchy chorus of the title track? With the medieval folk jingle of "Shadow of Uther"? With emotional, heartfelt balladry in "Sailorman's Hymn" and "Glory", or with the power metal gold of the last two tracks? For newer fans, Karma would be a better place to start, but this one will be here waiting for you when you finish with that one. For Kamelot fans, this is simply essential. Recommended.
I discovered Kamelot in 2001, when I picked up a copy of "Karma". Since then, I considered myself as a fan of power metal. Like "Karma", "The Fourth Legacy" is an excellent album with a great vocalist, medieval melodies and fast-paced music. However, some songs are a bit lacking, making this album slightly less attractive than "Karma". It's still, however, one of the best power metal album I've ever heard.
Like I say in every Kamelot review, Roy Khan is one of the highlights of the album. He is absolutely stunning in every album and "The Fourth Legacy" is no exception. There isn't a single track were he sounds off-key. He also has a very wide vocal range. I've tried to find a flaw in this guy's voice, but I couldn't find any. His voice is just perfect. Just listen to "A Sailorman's Hymn" to find the greatness in Khan's voice.
The music is where "The Fourth Legacy" is weaker than "Karma". The musicians are talented, no doubt about that, but the music is just too inconsistent. I like variety in an album, but tracks on "The Fourth Legacy" sound too different from each other. The clearest example is "Nights of Arabia". It's not that I don't like the Middle-Eastern melody, but it's just that it's too different from the rest of the songs. Lyrically, the album follows the same inconsistency. This problem, however, was fixed on "Karma", where there was variety, but to a limit.
There are no weak tracks on the album. My personal favorite track has to be "Lunar Sanctum"; a track which wouldn't have looked out of place on "Karma". "The Fourth Legacy" is also a very great track. Having said that, there are two underwhelming tracks; "Silent Goddess" and"Glory". I tend to skip them, but they're still above average.
Overall, it's a very solid effort from Kamelot. It's way better than the band's latest 2 offerings, and it's better than albums released before it, yet it doesn't come close to reaching the perfection of the album "Karma". It is, however, worth purchasing, and it's still among the best power metal albums out there. Although "Karma" is still number one in my book.
1999 was the year when the power metal explosion began. You had break out bands like Freedom Call, Iron Fire and At Vance releasing their debuts, and other new bands releasing their magnus opuses (Iron Savior and Rhapsody). During this time, veteran band Kamelot released a truly formidable album to rival this tide of up and coming bands.
Although Kamelot is primarily known as a power metal outfit, they have a very progressive element to them, and this can be readily viewed in such varied tracks as the mystical sounding "Silent Goddess", the latin choirs on "The Fourth Legacy", the middle eastern nostalgia of "Nights of Arabia, the haunting ballad of "The Sailorman's Hymn" and the progressive and cybornetic sounding synth loaded track dubbed "Lunar Sanctum".
This band has a very tight rhythm section, which is an absolute must for any band delving into complex music, bu their strength lies in their lead personalities. Thomas Youngblood's solos are highly individualistic, avoiding the almost cliche malmsteen influence that dominates much of the scene, and sounding at times similar to the works of such classic lead players as Adrian Smith and KK Downing. And Roy Kahn's gleamingly smooth and soaring vocals are reminiscent of Freddy Mercury's work in the early era of queen.
The keyboard work on this album is also a dominant feature, particularly on up tempo tracks like "The Shadow of Uther" and "Until Kingdom Come". It stands to reason that at some point Kamelot would appoint a keyboardist as a fifth member of the band as Freedom Call finally caved in and did, but to this day they still insist on the 4 person permanent line-up and leave open slots for guest musicians.
The lyrical content on this album is highly progressive and varied. The legend of King Arthur lives on in "The Shadow of Uther", and the stories of Shaharizad are told again in "Nights of Arabia". The exploits of Alexander the Great are brought back in the rather catchy sounding "Alexandria", and the history of the Crusades are shared in the heart felt ballad "Glory". The mystical side of storytelling found in "Silent Goddess" contrasts the Viking adventures spoken of in "The Fourth Legacy". And leave us not forget the tear jerking love ballad "The Sailorman's Hymn" rivaling the more agitated love song of "Kingdom Come". 12 songs, 12 epic tales wrapped into musical poems.
In conclusion, this is an album that came out of a very amazing time in Power Metal history. Perhaps in 10 years or so people will come to remember 1999 as the turning point by which metal struck back. And amongst even so many great releases, this one stands out as one that I consider having a true and lasting impact on the metal scene. A must have for Power Metal fans, and something that even Prog. Metal fans can appreciate.
Contrary to what some would think of me, I've been known to appreciate good power/progressive metal. At leasy not the cheesey Helloween worship that characterizes most modern power metal, and not the self-indulgent wankery that prog often falls into. Kamelot have the best of both worlds, and if the writing tandem of Thomas Youngblood and Roy Khan have anything to say about it, this will continue to be so.
After a fantastic, if slightly pompous intro that sets a perfect tone for the album with its classical overtones, Casey Grillo sets to work annihilating his kick drum pedals on the blazing title track, and does he ever rule! The boy has legs of steel as he lays down a thundering barrage that drives the melodic yet ass-whooping riffs along, and then Meister Khan opens his yob and it is OVER. And I do mean over--if Don Dokken had any balls at all whatsoever and could sing, he would want to sound as rich, focused, classy, and above all confident as Roy does every time he gets going. He sings with such emotion and power on every song on this album, no matter the tempo or feel of the song, I cannot help but elect him as one of the very best metal vocalists out there. This song alone will get your blood pounding, your fist waving, and your head banging with its anthemic chorus. Then comes "Silent Goddess", with its slower, more brooding feel and ominous keyboards,a nd the album just gets better and better from there.
The intro of "Knights of Arabia" does a beautiful job of conjuring up the aural atmosphere of a Middle Eastern marketplace, and even fades into the song with some eerie throat singing over Glenn Barry's sinuous, slinky bass line. Another uptempo blazer, this is, with a chorus that provokes sing-alongs, and a moving female vocal spot before the solo. Did I mention that Thomas Youngblood is a shining star as a guitarist? Every solo on this album exudes class, taste, and feeling, and is perfectly-constructed--every note in the right place and making perfect sense.
"A Sailorman's Hymn" is one of their signature ballads, and damned if it doesn't bring a tear to my eye with every listening, Roy pours his heart out so much alongside the female singer he duets with. A stunningly gorgeous little tune, this one. The other ballad, "Glory" falls into that category as well, the tale of a knight questioning his path and his mission in the Crusades, and "Lunar Sanctum" ends the album on a high note with a powerful ensemble riff and some nifty little bass licks near the end as well. From start to finish, this album owns you and draws you in straight away, and will probably always do so with me.
Kamelot's "The Fourth Legacy" is a great album of half Progressive, half Power Metal with a big keyboard presence. I find this album has so much going for it. I find it balances things so well, with Progressive elements abound in each song and excellent use of keyboards which meld so well into the structure and play their part in creating each song and making it unique. We get a grand pseudo symphonic keyboard intro to the album, kind of pretentious in a way, but I really dig it so much! It just then gives way to the marvellous title track, grand Power Metal riffs with original melodies and nice use of Progressive elements in the middle. They keep things up with "Silent Goddess" making you feel exhilerated in the kind of ambitous design of their songs but just wanting to plain rock out as well. "Desert Reign" which follows continues the keyboard supremacy, really conjuring up images of an Arabian bazaar from centuries ago which just totally owns, I really like Eastern kind of stuff like this mixed with the whole Metal thing, it's just fundamentally cool. It serves as an intro, leading smoothly into "Nights Of Arabia" which is my favourite track on here. It has a real storytelling structure and I like the use of female vocals here.
"The Shadow Of Uther" just has that incredible medieval sounding melody part which ties in the themes of the lyrics they're going for. I just love that melody part. It doesn't rival the last track, but it's a great addition to an already consistent and exciting album. “A Sailorman’s Hymn" is an acoustic ballad with such powerful emotion put into it, mixing a strong feeling of hope with fear of the worst and despair too. The next two tracks are similar to compare, both "Alexandria" and "The Inquisitor" have the same kind of Progressive presence and good songwriting that we've seen before, both are great, but each is different from the next which is a strength of the album overall. A part of what makes this album so good is to be found in the range of Roy Khan, which is what helps to make up the mood of each song. He really does put a lot of power and thought into each lyric he sings which gives this album its great effect. Silly as it may be, the lyrics are very sing along-able, even in such a Progressive affair as this with each lyric preceded (in the booklet) by a quote from history or philosophy, which gives it the theme the band picked up on. It's still very cool.
Another ballad with "Glory", not as good as the last ballad but still well played and written. The last two songs aren't as strong, sounding a bit more tired and less full of enthusiasm as the start of the album is. They are good and worth listening to, but I don't think they add to the album as much as the rest of it. Still this album is a very worthy purchase for any fans who like Progressiveness and a bit of cheese here and there, with (quite non cheesy) historical and fictional lyrical concepts. Go get it!