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Pleasantly Shocked - 92%

OmegaV, May 19th, 2015

Who would have thought Kamelot had another 5-star album in them? Certainly not me. And yet they've done it with Haven.

When I try to get my friends onto Kamelot, I pitch the band by saying they're the only band I know who put out four 5-star albums in a row (Karma, Epica, Black Halo, Ghost Opera). Sadly, with Poetry for the Poisoned, the quality dropped tremendously. Silverthorn was a modest but commendable improvement, especially considering the switch in vocalists from Roy to Tommy, but while I love a few of the individual songs, as a whole the album didn't impress me.

Haven is a different animal. From the first track, Fallen Star, Tommy sets himself apart from Roy as a different, but equally talented singer--his own man. The next four songs, Insomnia, Citizen Zero, Veil of Elysium, and Under Grey Skies are all instant classics for me. Veil of Elysium might be the best Kamelot song since Ghost Opera's Edenecho. When Tommy sings "Let's play with the fire that runs in our veins" it's as if he's demanding that the listener recognize that this is the most dynamic and lively the band has been in years.

Haven isn't without its weak points. Between My Therapy and Beautiful Apocalypse, the album doesn't quite slacken so much as lose its urgency. It's not that these middle songs aren't good--on Poetry for the Poisoned or Silverthorn they would have stood out as good tracks--but more that they pale when compared to the earlier songs. Looking at the rest of Kamelot's discography, they have a tendency to front and backload the best songs and leave the less powerful ones somewhere in the middle, so we can forgive them if they do the same here.

The album doesn't go quietly however, firing back after the relative lull with two great, heavy tracks that would seem to be exactly what the band failed to do with Poetry for the Poisoned, (Liar Liar (Wasteland Monarchy) and Revolution, both featuring growled vocals by Alissa White-Gluz) that is, merge a harsher, heavier, abrasive sound with the melodics of what's essentially a power metal aesthetic.

Overall: The album has no business being as good as it is, but I'm not complaining that my low expectations were shattered by this sterling effort. This album makes me wonder if Silverthorn was Tommy Karevik's Siege Perilous/Fourth Legacy shakedown cruise. If so, Haven would stand as Tommy's Karma, meaning his Epica and Black Halo are just around the bend...