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More symhonic, less power. - 78%

NocturneFreeze, September 23rd, 2007

Aah, Kamelot, my personal favorite power metal band. A band that even though it features the standard power metal characteristics has never become cheesy. This band is probably most well-known because of the concept story that started with the album Epica and ended with the album The Black Halo. Those two albums, aside from the interesting story, were two milestones in the power metal legacy, with melodies better than anything Helloween, Blind Guardian or Sonata Arctica have ever put out. The earlier albums were, although nothing compared to the twin albums, still incredibly good. Karma and The Fourth Legacy contained some classic melodies. Siege Perilous, Dominion and Eternity were even less great than the newer album, and although they were enjoyable at times, they lacked the melodies and full sound of The Fourth Legacy and onwards.

Why did I just write the discography of Kamelot. To show there is a movement between several albums. Starting as standard flower power metal, continuing as a more serious and full power metal band, while eventually become a concept story band with progressive traits. Now it’s hard to create an album after a masterpiece, so it must be thrice as hard after three incredible masterpieces. Ghost Opera not only falls short compared to those albums, but on its own, it’s only a good album at best. That doesn’t sound bad, it really isn’t, but from a band like Kamelot, we may consider that an album like this is not worthy for Kamelot’s discography.

Not only did the quality differ, the whole sound was something else. That should be great, evolution is important for bands. This however is not evolution, but more like devolution. Kamelot has incorporated symphonic elements before in their albums, but it never has been as overruling as here. It’s just like the Dimmu Borgir discography (though much better). Not only did the instrumentation change, the layouts and characteristics of the songs sound different. Fast songs on this album are rare, too many song have that groovy, mid-tempo basis, just like The Haunting, a song of The Black Halo album. The sound feels much darker, but much of the energy and power is lost in the songs. It’s actually much like the album title: Ghost Opera, darker and more symphonic.

Although the music quality flatters somewhat, the instrumentation is still at its best. Although Khan has some annoying vocal effects in a few parts of some songs (Blücher, the pre-chorus for example), his actual vocal ability outshines practically every other power metal vocalist. He is able to hit the highest notes; but he mostly stays within the mid-range. The bass and drum are also quite impressive, although both Casey and Glenn can do better. They both provide some nice fills in between the song parts, but, unlike older records, the verses and choruses mainly consist of the standard power metal clichés. Oliver, the keyboard-player, who was recruited when The Black Halo was brought out sure has been a big influence on the new songwriting. Not only does the album feel more symphonic, but there are more ambient sounds on the background and more leads played by the keyboard instead of guitar. Speaking of guitars, Thomas Youngblood has yet invented some new ways of creating guitar riffs in the vain of power metal without plagiarize other material.

Now that we’re more speaking of symphonic metal instead of power metal, there is automatically some downfall considering it’s the same band. The songs are still good, but nowhere in the vain of older songs. There is one exception, The Human Stain, which I rank upon the top 5 of Kamelot songs, but the others are by far not as good. Sure, The Silence of the Darkness and Edenecho are throwbacks to older times, mixing the symphonies with great old-school Kamelot-style power metal. Anthem is a relaxing acoustic ballad, backed up with a nice string arrangement. But that’s about it. The other songs range from decent (Love You to Death, the chorus is magnificent, but the lyrics are sub par) to the boring Blücher.

I actually hoped that this album would flop, so that Kamelot would understand trying to be symphonic was a bad choice. Sadly, this album is one of their more successful albums. Ghost Opera (the song) and The Human Stain are already two singles, and there sure will be some other song coming up as singles. It’s sad, the new Kamelot isn’t bad, in fact it’s quite good, but older Kamelot is so much better. I really hope this just turns out to be an experiment. A good, short, funny, symphonic experiment for only one album. Kamelot just must not abandon their power metal roots.