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Even Skeptics Can Receive Facepalms - 77%

Maniac Blasphemer, May 1st, 2014

Autumn currently takes its toll and while Halloween aproaches rapidly, we receive a new Kamelot opus entitled Silverthorn. Honestly, you could say that Kamelot has been passing over a crisis since their previous album, Poetry for the Poisoned, did not really impress and the sudden, yet expected leave of the long term vocalist Roy Khan surely managed to create a cloud of skepticism over the upcoming record.

Tommy Karevik isn't quite a Khan copycat like many have been bragging about. His work in Seventh Wonder was enough to attract Thomas Youngblood's attention and later hire him as the new vocalist. In my eyes, Karevik seems a little bit generic, but his style of singing is not very far from Khan's, so he can sing pretty well on the songs that Khan used to mesmerize the audience with. He even managed to copy Khan's "stage antics", sort of say.

But what can we expect from Silverthorn? Undoubtedly the same old Kamelot recipe that we have received until now, but with a Karma feeling this time. Ghost Opera was Palotai's own brainchild since it was more operatic-driven, Palotai being an incredible keyboardist and a well-trained classical performer while Poetry for the Poisoned was Khan's own breed, reminding us a little bit of his youth spent in Conception, his first band before joining Kamelot.

This new offering somehow manages to remain impressive in terms of instrument performance from the beginning until the end. You get nice speedy power metal anthems (Sacrimony), an occasional power metal ballad to lighten up the mood (Song For Jolee), some songs with dark atmosphere and with great orchestration (Veritas), and a tune that combines all these three aspects (Prodigal Son), all of them being characterized by strong performance and compositional skills.

All fine and dandy, but this album still has some inconsistencies. It is played too safe. I do not know if Roy Khan's departure was such a heavy blow since a decrease in the songwriting department was already clear on the gothic-tinged Poetry For The Poisoned, but Karevik's inclusion adds little to the whole recipe. While he sounds like a Khan clone (but a refreshed one), he lacks the passion behind his vocal performance, a passion that Khan had and managed to glue your headphones to your ears for quite a while despite the fact that the songwriting department was never a great feature in Kamelot's discography. This lack of passion is somehow compensated with the presence of two female vocalists that do the clean and harsh jobs on this record, but up to a certain point.

Overall, in this album you can find the two faces of Kamelot. A more sped-up one with songs such as Sacrimony, Silverthorn, Solitaire, Veritas, and Torn, slow-paced songs such as Ashes to Ashes, My Confessions, Falling Like the Fahrenheit, and Prodigal Son, and the ballad, Song for Jolee. The most important thing is that we can still hear the same old Kamelot. The style has not changed at all as the balance between melodic power metal and the symphonic parts is still well kept and we can still hear impressive guitar solos given by Thomas Youngblood.

It is safe to say that the cloud of skepticism has been dispelled with this new opus. Kamelot is not on the verge of developing their sound, at least not on this album, but that does not change the fact that what they're playing now is solid, even though it is painfully safely played.

Highlights: Sacrimony, Veritas, My Confession, Prodigal Son.

A worthy replacement, the band plays it safe - 73%

Innersfree, April 30th, 2013

Nothing could have stung Kamelot quite as terribly as the hurried departure of Roy Khan, who listeners would most closely associate with the distinctive sound the band has acquired over the years. In the aftermath of the absurd and uncharacteristic 'Poetry for the Poisoned', it seemed the band had veered far off course and in losing Khan, lost any semblance of a chance in redeeming its increasingly disillusioned fanbase, to whom Khan was nothing less than the band itself.

Enter Tommy Karevik, a promising and excellent vocalist engaged in the Swedish progressive scene who made several middling albums with Seventh Wonder, a band with a passing and only ephemeral resemblance to Kamelot. This would seem like a rather experimental choice considering the band could have potentially roped in Fabio Lione and scored far more mercy points from the power metal crowd. Well, until you hear the album that is. Note for note, Karevik sounds exactly like Roy Khan. Its pretty spot on too. A lot less dramatic and more straightforward in his approach (certainly more so than Seventh Wonder), but still compellingly so.

Now realistically we can't expect far too much of a departure from the norm, and perhaps we will see Karevik bring in more elements of his own style as he gets more involved in the creative process of the band. The general approach to the vocals on the album can be extended to the entire release, which is more 'safe' than anything. And while it does achieve its aim of being a solid album that will restore lost faith in the band, it strains to be anything more. Things have an atmosphere of being reined in and controlled, which becomes apparent on hearing the opener and lead single 'Sacrimony'. Khan-like vocals? Check. Obligatory female vocals? Check. Faux dramatic keyboard flourishes? Check. Rising play by book chorus ('Forever', 'Fourth Legacy')? Check. Even Thomas Youngblood, restrained and tasteful as he already is suffers the handicap, and it isn't until much much later in the album that he steps out of those bounds to deliver a more fitting lead in 'My Confession'.

Every song on the album is designed to be short and not extend beyond its self imposed artistic boundaries. There's barely any room for any of this material to breathe, which is a shame because the actual songs on here aren't underwhelming at all. Take, for example - 'Song for Jolee'. A tastefully understated and moving ballad with some terrific vocals. But just as its about to get off the ground - its cut short. Almost as if the band itself gave up suddenly. A lot of the album moves along in this way, often hinting at something much much better but never really getting there. Rather, never really trying. This is severely underwhelming for a band that is especially adept at crafting intricate songs and albums and there's rarely ever room for the songs to engage in more than what they are.

Add to this the fact that the band tries to appeal to various different elements in its fanbase and we have a bit of everything stuffed into what already feels like a terribly claustrophobic album. Some of the songs, actually a good lot of them have parts which lend an utterly extraneous and sickening goth feel to it. An otherwise great and emotive song like 'Falling like the Fahrenheit' has that obligatory intro with the jagged pseudo goth/industrial guitar tone that just doesn't belong in a song of this sensibility. Now I can understand that this is something Kamelot has picked up all the way from The Black Halo, but recently its been overpowering otherwise fine songwriting (excepting the swill that is Poetry). Tragedy is certainly an element in Kamelot's sound, and that should be readily apparent from their Faustian and Elizabethan endeavours. But so is resolution and triumph, something that has been lacking of late. And so long as Kamelot continues sugarcoating their choruses, there is no real reason for them to besmirch their identity and kill any liveliness in their songs with these somber and forced goth bits.

Now perhaps in delineating what disappoints me in the album, I've given you a far worse impression of it than it truly deserves. A lot of the album is solid and merits atleast a single listen, and certainly something that would appeal readily to the average Kamelot fan. Karevik's vocals are powerful, and tellingly so as can be readily evinced in most every track on the album. Elize Ryd, chiefly heard on 'Sacrimony' is also in full form and sounds truly angelic. The instrumentation is competent, straddling the line so carefully crafted by the band over the years. And that, is possibly the only problem with the album. Its good, but never great. So while you could listen to the epic number 'Prodigal Son' and enjoy it, it would never hit you the way a 'Memento Mori' would. It has only a fraction of the scope, the atmosphere, the emotion. Nor could 'Sacrimony' ever be a competent replacement for 'Forever', only a passing variant far too caught up in its own claustrophobia to ever rise above it. These songs weren't made to stand the test of time, unlike their predecessors. And only time will tell whether Kamelot itself would build on reclaimed ground and forge another album akin to Epica or the Black Halo or sink back to the cesspool of Poetry for the Poisoned. For now, the band is going steady. And I guess that's enough cause for celebration.

Continuum - 96%

GuntherTheUndying, January 11th, 2013

I don't think an album of this quality was on anyone's radar. Kamelot was pretty much regressing toward the musical mean after they released "Poetry for the Poisoned," which, although passable, was peaks and valleys away from the insane standard set by past efforts like "Karma," "Ghost Opera," and the divine "The Black Halo." Then, they lost Roy Khan. His departure seemed irreplaceable; his voice was a key ingredient to Kamelot's formula, and they would've doubtfully reached that creative and poetic peak without his vocals and songwriting contributions. Kamelot ended up selecting the Swedish Tommy Karevik of Seventh Wonder to continue the group's angelic journey throughout "Silverthorn," and although the shoes were big, they were filled. Hell, almost busting out the toe cap. As I said, "Silverthorn" just didn't look like a masterpiece based on the actions leading to its release: too much confused; too much wrong; too much to work from.

Arguably one of the best bands around, I'm sure "Silverthorn" confirms that there's no longer a debate: Kamelot is elite. "Silverthorn" is simply amazing. Every facet both major and minor is utterly excellent. Its best feature happens to be the general structure of its songs, which manage to be creative, catchy, intelligent, and elegant. This is largely due to the introduction of Karevik's vocals which overbearingly counter the raw, emotive chimes of Khan, exchanging the snake's old skin for something remarkably individualistic. Khan and Karevik share a singing style which conjures words like mysterious, seductive, dark, and perhaps elusive to mind but isn't high-flying or bombastic, instead predatory and secret in nature. Karevik's voice, however, is much clearer and accessible. He perfectly entraps multitudes of Kamelot's niche from his soothing croons throughout "Torn" to the desperate, antagonizing emotions of "Veritas" with no discomfort rearing its ugly head. He's no temporary fix or replacement though; Karevik is as good as they come, and I honestly can't imagine Khan sounding so enamoring given the musical nature of "Silverthorn" had he been its vocalist, be it blasphemy or not. Anyone calling Karevik a Khan clone or insipid needs to have the stupid cleaned out of their ears.

Karevik's style allowed Kamelot to explore different terrains that were unfortunately disintegrating in Khan's ongoing lackluster performances, especially throughout "Poetry for the Poisoned." With his addition, the results are nearly boundless. "Silverthorn" chalks up a fantastic representation of Kamelot's spectrum of colors, reanimating fresh up-tempo molds akin to "Center of the Universe" or "When the Lights are Down" or mid-paced monuments like "The Black Halo" that we've come to love from this band; it's both very characteristic of Kamelot yet noticeably idiosyncratic. "Sacrimony (Angel of Afterlife)" starts things off with a bang, exploding in a variety of intense, up-tempo patterns while using stellar buildups and transitions; it's clear at this point that Karevik is just going to own this album. Mid-tempo, atmospheric tunes like "Ashes to Ashes" and "My Confession" remain awesome as well, balancing creative songwriting and catchiness with ease.

"Song for Jolee" reinvents the Kamelot ballad that was previously attributed to songs like "Abandoned" or "Don't You Cry," not to imply these molds were rotting, but "Song for Jolee" is an entirely new beast. Karevik's vocals are excellently conducted here, and the song's overall melody is very sublime and mesmerizing; another wonderful piece of Kamelot's brilliance. "Falling Like the Fahrenheit" and "Prodigal Son" pound out rivers of dark emotion and melancholy challenged through outstanding musicianship and vocal performances, staying simple yet effective and never overcomplicating the situation with over-fattening solos or suffocating inclusions. "Prodigal Son" rightfully justifies its nine-minute length because it (a) is emotionally the most powerful cut from "Silverthorn," (b) a monolithic opus capturing another snapshot of Kamelot's poignant songwriting, and (c) one of the faction's finest epics, easily brushing up to "Elizabeth" or "Memento Mori."

Oh yeah, Elize Ryd from Amaranthe delivers guest vocals on a number of tunes as well, and her role throughout this opus is utterly dominating. Then again, this is no ordinary Kamelot album, because Kamelot is no ordinary band, and they’ve launched themselves not into the heavens where they once reigned, but into a new utopia led by an unfamiliar voice. You may call this crazy, but I think "Silverthorn" easily supersedes a number of Kamelot's works, and arguably matches or even surpasses some of the group's aforementioned classics. This is no consolation prize; this is a magnificent album, kicking off fireworks from its bombastic introduction until the dire, melancholic epilogue makes its round. A slab of raw emotion tied to joy, love, hate and death, told by one of metal's finest tribes, and a rejuvenation that ascends high above the cloudy skies. Best album of 2012.

This review was written for:

Too much of everything - 51%

kluseba, November 26th, 2012

Kamelot are one of those symphonic power metal bands that loads of people seem to enjoy as they have rather progressive song writing and skip the overloaded elements and stereotypically charged joyful topics many of their European colleagues are focusing on. After the criticized predecessor “Poetry For The Poisoned” that had many dull moments and a lack of passion and variation, the band’s Norwegian singer Roy Khan left the band and was soon replaced by another Scandinavian singer, the young Tommy Karevik from Sweden. Many people were expecting a return to strength but also a few changes but to my negative surprise nothing of this happened.

If I didn’t know that the band had a new singer, I wouldn’t have even recognized it as the new guy sounds like a pale copy of his predecessor despite many positive comments about the young man’s old main band that are the Swedish progressive metal act Seventh Wonder. The lack of original vocals is though not the main issue on here. The problem is that this record is even more emotionless and overloaded than the previous one. We get way too many sound effects, an endless number of more or less impressive guest musicians and a too elevated number of artificially flavoured orchestral and symphonic instruments that make me think of a bad computer game soundtrack. When one hears a random female guest singer in one track that is followed by pointless choirs performed by a group of children just to kick off a pathetic and overlong kitsch symphony part, this is not only confusing but also mildly amusing. The songs sound directionless and random. Too many cooks spoil the broth in here.

There aren’t any truly catchy or outstanding parts on this release to point out. I might cite that the diversity works best in “Veritas” but only because I really like oriental folk influences in general that are also included on this song. The calm and mysterious beginning of the epic “Prodigal Son” also seems quite promising but the songs turns out to go nowhere as time runs out and is way too long.

In the end, this new release is even a step down after the flawed predecessor. Blind fan boys will talk about multiple influences, progressive changes and many new faces and influences but I can’t agree on that at all. The band just sounds lost on this release. The last album had at least a constant atmosphere and clear guiding line. Even if you’re a regular fan of them, you should give this release a listen before you take the risk of buying it and have a very negative surprise.

We will miss you dearly Khan.. - 96%

Soapx, November 23rd, 2012

When I first read that Khan left Kamelot a few months ago, the same feeling of empty heartedness and disbelief when Tarja got kicked out of Nightwish overcame me. Khan had an incredible stage presence whenever he stepped on a stage and could sing like no other in the genre. I thought he could never be replaced in this band. But so happens that he needed to quit and needed to be replaced due to him being ill and completely burned out. So here we are, new album, new singer and a new return for Kamelot. Going in, I didn't expect this be the same band but just a shell of what they were, I wasn't expecting too much to be completely honest.

Kamelot are masters of their craft, and their fans know the, "Kamelot sound" and have all become quite demanding over the years. The symphonic atmosphere is still here on this record the moment the first track begins to play but that's not much of a surprise since that is a given. What I really wanted to know was how Tommy would fill in the gap left by Khan's departure, which seemed to be a canyon of a gap. I've been a fan of this band forever and I can't help but see myself being very judgmental of this new singer.

After the opener, you hear Tommy speaking and I couldn't care less what he has to say at the moment, just play the damn song already. As anxious as I was to hear the music, this definitely wasn't a good first impression. Finally the single, "Sacrimony" kicks in, which truthfully, sounds like a Kamelot song and reminds me of the track, "Ghost Opera" or something out of the album, "Fourth Legacy" or even, "Epica" you know, the chugging guitar riffs, the double kicks and the symphony in the background. Very energetic and powerful song, good stuff! In my head I’m thinking, "Alright, this is definitely a Kamelot song and kicks ass so far!" That being said, it's safe to say they haven't strayed far from their formula. The moment Tommy begins to sing, an eerie resemblance to Khan is present. Kamelot seem to have recruited a singer that sounds very similar to Roy, and if certain people out there haven't been following their story, they'd think it’s the same damn singer. Catchy chorus, good song structure, it’s all us Kamelot fans have grown to love about them.

As the album progresses, not only do Tommy's vocals get better, but the album as a whole does and Youngblood actually starts to shred for once; something that has been absent in many Kamelot songs. I forgot this and started to think that he couldn't shred at all to be honest. The music arrangements and production are top notch and absolutely wonderful to listen to on this record. Every Kamelot album as of late, has had a slow piano ballad and of course, this album wouldn’t be a Kamelot album without one. Don't expect a song as good as, “Abandoned” cause you aren't going to get it. Don't get me wrong, “Song for Jolee” is a good track, but it sounds like it belongs in some Disney movie. Some may love it or some may pass on it and move on. The next notable song is, "My Confession" Tommy soars on this track and the symphonies accompanied by the drums and guitars are in perfect harmony. Awesome song. As previously stated, the album gets better as we go on. A good way to see what an album and a band has to offer, is to listen half way into an album or further because from experience, albums tend to wither as they progress. But not this bad boy, “Solitaire” is the 10th song on this album and is powerful as hell. I found myself listening to this track multiple times. Finally! A negative point! What sucks is that the longest song on this album, "Prodigal Son" Doesn't kick in fast enough. It's slow up until the sixth minute then the track turns fantastic. I don’t know why they chose to take so long to bring up the tempo of the song. The album winds down with the track, “Continuum” an instrumental song, which brings a suitable close to the album. It's slow and soothing allowing you take in everything that you have listened to and acts as a perfect curtain call to an amazing album.

All things considered, Tommy is an ideal replacement for Kamelot; he stepped up to the challenge and passed with flying colours. If a guy like me can look past Khan leaving and embrace this album the way I have, then anyone can. No it isn’t as good as the epic, and I mean EPIC, "Black Halo" but it’s definitely better than, "Poetry For The Poisoned" and a strong answer from the drama that this band went through. This is a revitalized Kamelot ready to kick some ass and I can't wait to see what they have in store for us. We Will miss you dearly Khan, but Welcome Tommy!

Notable Tracks

Sacrimony, My Confession, Silverthorn, Ashes To Ashes, Solitaire, VERITAS

A masterwork of death, love and what lies beyond. - 98%

Empyreal, November 11th, 2012

This settles it – Kamelot is just one of the best bands of our time. They hit an all-time peak back in the early 2000s with Epica and The Black Halo, so it was understandable that following works like Ghost Opera would be less engaging, even if that album was really, really good at what it was trying to do. Their previous album Poetry for the Poisoned was enjoyable too, though I can’t say I would rate it as highly now as I did back when it came out – it lost a lot to repeated listens. After losing singer Roy Khan, though, everybody was skeptical – he was what made the band; he was the big defining point that sold them to audiences beyond the niche metal ones they had gotten in their early career. A voice like that doesn’t come around more than once. Would Kamelot be able to retain even a little bit of their huge edge over every other band in the scene without him?

Well, Silverthorn says yes, yes they can, because this is a band that transcends the surface aesthetics of a singer’s voice through great songwriting. Not that I really had that many doubts that they could still be good without Khan; certainly I had that much faith in them, but I didn’t expect them to put out something this good, is all. I didn’t expect them to be able to reach the heights of something like The Black Halo without him. But they are a versatile and smart band and know their sound like a crucial part of their internal bodily systems. They hired new singer Tommy Karevik from Seventh Wonder to replace him, and while I’ve never been big on Seventh Wonder, it turns out that was just the right choice.

Karevik has a smooth, likable voice like Khan did, although notably less showy and dominating. I loved Khan’s voice, but the addition of a more down-to-Earth singer has an interesting effect on the music in that it forces the band to compensate for the loss of Khan’s domineering presence. Where before they put Khan’s silky, otherworldly croon at the forefront, here they mask its loss with an ensemble of Karevik’s powerful midrange and spellbinding lows, a host of gorgeous female vocals and big, ominous choirs that create a varied and powerful sound…certainly more engaging than the computerized effects on Khan’s voice on the last album…anyway, the band is really smart and works the other aspects of their sound full-well to make up for the loss of its most shining element in the past. That shows a hard working, relevant and clever band that I think deserves respect.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt at all that Karevik’s youthful, bright tones allow the music far more breadth than Khan’s diminishing range did on the previous two albums. This is still very much in the vein of their gothy, midpaced material of late, but it has more variety and verve to the sound and the band sounds way more adventurous here. I have to say I still miss the heavier, denser guitarwork from Black Halo, which still hasn’t returned, but the band produces really catchy, emotive melodies that dig deep into your brain with ironclad hooks. On songs like “Sacrimony” or the lush harmonies of “My Confession,” they sound alert and lively. The album still has a very dark and somber feel, though, and I’d say this is perhaps Kamelot’s most hopeless and bleak album ever. Everything about this just feels so dark and sorrowful that it’s like the band’s collective heart is breaking. It’s some kind of concept album about death separating two lovers and what extents the surviving party goes to to be with his lover again, and the lyrics are very poetic and not straightforward enough to give a clear idea of what the story is beyond that, but the music is powerful and raw in its emotion, and the whole thing together just masterfully bleeds pain and suffering. Very affecting.

But really the main strength with this album is that the songs kick ass. The lead single “Sacrimony” is a bustling, anthemic power metal bruiser with a good old Fourth Legacy style chorus. The keyboards are big and kind of silly, sure, but the song is done with a lot of energy and so it comes off as really powerful. “Ashes to Ashes” is a clear album highlight with its dark, punishing riff and mournful vocal lines…Karevik really does do a great job on this one and shows that he can match Khan’s elegance with pure grit and style, delivering an unforgettable chorus with a ton of drama. “Torn” is another old-school power metal blazer, but it’s probably the weakest song on here…however even the weakest song here is still hooky and enjoyable, so it’s good.

“Song for Jolee,” though, is one of the best songs on here with its wistful melody line and beautiful balladry. One of the great things about the new Kamelot is that they have really done more work with these quiet, sensitive moments than in the past. This is the last time I’ll make a Khan comparison, but while his voice was gorgeous and he sang on some great songs, there was always this overpowering grandiosity to everything he sang no matter how soft the music got. With Karevik you don’t get that, as he lowers his voice to this calm, quivering soft note and delivers one of the most honest and poignant performances on a Kamelot song since classics like “Wander” and “Abandoned” way back when – they’re all great ballads, but “Song for Jolee” is great in a new and fresh way.

“Veritas” is the most intense song on here with its riotous choirs and stomping riffs, and “My Confession” shimmers with that classic Kamelot-style brilliant melody. Both of these songs are sure to be live favorites. The title track is a creepy number with some of the more inventive vocal lines on the album. It’s a very hopeless and even sinister sounding song that will probably evoke lots of different things in various people; none of them very happy…more along the lines of stalkers from beyond the grave and scorned ex-lovers with death wishes. ”Falling Like the Fahrenheit” and “Solitaire” are more classic Kamelot tunes, with the former being a down-tempo dirge with a killer chorus and some great lyrics. “My cyanide in paradise…I will never see another sunrise in your eyes…” Great stuff. The latter is a killer speedy number with a heavenly melody line like a clear, running stream through a smoky mountain crevasse.

“Prodigal Son” is the token epic number that Kamelot always has on their albums, and it starts off beautifully with some choral singing and beautifully delicate, fragile moments that I don’t think they would have done in the old days at all – this is new territory for them. When it kicks up into a rousing power metal epic, the payoff doesn’t quite deliver from its gorgeous beginning, but it’s still good – just not AS good as some of the great songs on this album beforehand. It’s just a little too cerebral and lacks in the visceral emotional punch that a great album ending should have. It’s a well put together song, but it doesn’t quite catch fire. The last song “Continuum” is just a fluffy bit of orchestration that doesn’t really do much…oh well.

Overall I love this album though, if you couldn’t tell from the previous dozen paragraphs of raving about it. It’s just an incredibly emotional and well done album from a band that has produced some of power metal’s greatest works, this being among them now. Kamelot is good because they have a great sense of melody and can write plain old unstoppable songs; it’s that simple. On Silverthorn the big hook is that this is the most atmospheric they have ever been. When I listen to this album I get this huge overpowering sense of love and death and love after death – the undying and destructive power that compels humanity’s greatest tragedies. Love gone awry is the greatest fodder for a tragedy and has been since the beginning of time, and that is what this album evokes – pure, undiluted sorrow and misery. If you want to hear something uplifting, maybe this isn’t for you…but if you want to get lost in the dark and experience the rawest human emotion, well, Silverthorn wouldn’t be a bad place to start.

Returning Like a Shadow - 90%

eyes_of_apocalypse, November 8th, 2012

Kamelot is one of the top dogs in symphonic power metal, huh? I'd say they're there right along side Nightwish as THE symphonic power band - and like Nightwish, they'd turned away from their power metal roots in favor of a catchier, more symphonic sound with more recent releases. These recent releases - Ghost Opera and Poetry for the Poisoned have been shunned by traditional fans of Kamelot. Poetry in particular seemed to be a real turn away from the undistuped masterpiece The Black Halo (which is in my top 10 albums ever). When things were already low for the band, Roy Khan decided to leave. Any Kamelot fan could tell you that Roy was THE voice for Kamelot. He simply was an incredible vocalist and certainly among my favorites - among the favorites of many.

Two years later, enter Silverthorn with new vocalist Tommy Karevik. With the voice of Kamelot being gone, could they ascend from the shame of the public? The answer is a deep, resounding "yes." Silverthorn is a complete return to form for Kamelot - one which will more than make up for one or two lackluster albums for the traditional Kamelot fan, while still retaining elements that made previous outputs enjoyable for the more modern Kamelot fan.

Though I personally have never noticed a large change in sound, I must confess to being more in the latter category than the former. While I enjoy The Fourth Legacy and Karma quite well, The Black Halo is their first album I really loved. The two following it - yes, even the much maligned Poetry for the Poisoned - are fantastic releases as well. As such, I was way more than skeptical when I saw everyone claiming this as some return to form for Kamelot. One of my favorite singers ever is gone, some guy from some band I never heard of replaced him (note to self: go listen to Seventh Wonder immediately), and the band has return to a sound more akin to The Fourth Legacy. Great.....

Silverthorn definitely has a sound more akin to earler albums than latter, but I would say this has much more in common with The Black Halo than anything else. Really, Kamelot just shines with their concept albums, don't they? The music is cohesive with a kind of flow where you know this is a concept album, and tracks like "Silverthorn" and "Solitaire" would've fit right in there. Though lead single “Sacrimony (Angel of Afterlife)” – among the album’s highlights – sound similar to The Fourth Legacy indeed (the first time listening to it, all I could think of was how similar the vocal melody “Forgive my sacrimony” sounded to “In following the fourth legacy”), there are certain nuances that remind me of "March of Mephisto" - from the black metal shrieks by Alissa White-Gluz (note: the guest appearances on this album are singers from terrible bands) to how certain lines remind so well of Roy's classic performance in the above mentioned song. Yet, despite these similarities, the song has its own character and is right there in league with some of the best music Kamelot has put out.

But really, the way the songs are written is in a style quite similar to The Black Halo in almost every track. I've never been overly keen on Kamelot ballads, but "Song for Jolee" is simply beautiful, reminding me of (to the surprise of no one) "Abandoned" - maybe because "Abandoned" is the only other Kamelot ballad I really like, but I can't help but notice similarities in melodies, poignancy, or even the climax towards the end where the chorus is repeated with typical metal instrumentation (drums, guitar, etc) added... and even some symphonic fancyness right before that.

Nonetheless, tracks like "My Confession" and the longer expected-"epic" "Prodigal Son" are much more downcast, certainly bringing to mind moments of Kamelot's two albums prior. "My Confession" has more reliance on symphonics and drawing out emotion, and it recalls songs such as "Up Through the Ashes" or "Mourning Star." Though I expected "Prodigal Son" to remind more of "Memento Mori," its gloomy aura brings more to mind what the "Poetry for the Poisoned" tracks would've given off if united as one song. With arguably increased catchiness and powerful riffing, I'd guess even the stubborn haters of latter-era Kamelot will welcome these tracks despite their similarities.

Of course, with Khan being who he is, the biggest source of attention is going to be the new vocalist. And, well.... he sounds just like Khan. I have no prior experience with Tommy - as such, I have no idea how much he's TRYING, but he's very similar regardless. He sounds SO similar, in fact, I'd bet that a passing Kamelot fan would think it's still Roy singing. His work in "Sacrimony (Angel of Afterlife), "Veritas," and "Silverthorn" in particular remind me of Roy every damn time. Yet even so, he has his own touch and style that certainly makes him notably different. Worse than Roy? In my opinion, yes, but few can reach the echelons Roy reached. Tommy has a fantastic voice regardless, and I have never encountered another vocalist who could've been a better fit. He sounds utterly sincere and delivers a stunningly emotional performance in a way I thought only Roy could do. In other words: he done good.

I am endlessly amazed by this album. It's not among their best, and I'd still pick Ghost Opera and Poetry for the Poisoned ahead of this, but this is truly a surprisingly excellent piece of work from kings of symphonic power metal. They took inspiration from all of their releases, melded them together, then thrust their greatest era to highest dominance. I fully expected this to be terrible without Roy - initially, my opinion on the album wasn't much better than that. But with every listen it has grown more and more, to the point I suspect this may very well one day sit alongside it's most glaring inspiration, The Black Halo. I am a diehard fan of Kamelot's latter work and Roy Khan - if it can convince me, it can convince you.