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The Hunger Games Goes Metal - 55%

Dragonchaser, March 27th, 2019
Written based on this version: 2018, CD, Napalm Records

I love Kamelot, and it’s not easy for me to trash them, but this album is hot garbage. I’ve been a fan for a long time, and when they put out ‘The Black Halo’ in 2005, I thought it was an excellent excursion for them, unsure but excited about where they would go next. Nowhere, it seems, as they have been chasing this style ever since, putting out six albums of this shit. The problem sank in long before Roy Khan’s departure. ‘Ghost Opera’ was the first crap album of this era, and it just got worse from there. Now, obviously, ‘The Black Halo’ was their most successful album at that point, and it got them so much attention that Thomas Youngblood just thought that was what they had to do to be a touring band with a horde of adoring fans. Except, the fans they now have are all special little snowflakes, goth girls, guys into sky-pirates, nerds that like anime, steampunk, and cosplay. This gothic, quasi-dark sound has turned Kamelot into a brand, and let’s face it, they are just more popular playing this shallow shit than the melodic power metal that brought them fame during their classic run from ‘The Fourth Legacy’ to ‘Epica’. Watching the videos they made for this album, it’s obvious who this is supposed to appeal to. This stupid teen/young-adult dystopian future drivel makes this look like the Hunger Games of metal. Is this the same band that put out ‘Karma’? Far fucking from it.

I say all this because actually, some of these songs are good, especially opener ‘Phantom Divine’, which could actually be a real Kamelot song if not for the blatant attempt to sound like one, instead coming across like a parody of what this band once was. It’s all very poppy, very likeable, full of female vocals, screams, groovy riffs, and melodies that sound just like what Khan put down in the past, only sung by the great imitator Tommy Karevik, who I fucking love, and who is selling himself short by being forced to actually play Roy Khan in this ludicrous pantomime. ‘Silverthorn’, his first album with the band, was a return to form, but even then, Youngblood was just using Tommy to make up for Khan’s absence. If they had, you know, actually thought about their careers as artists, knowing Tommy’s abilities as a vocalist, they would’ve realized, shit, this guy has a great voice, higher than Khan’s, generally. Why don’t we make an album like ‘Karma’ where he can really shine? But no, we have shit like ‘Kevlar Skin’, again, decent, but a mockery of the established Kamelot sound post-2005. ‘Static’ isn’t too bad, but holy fuck, listen to ‘Amnesiac’. What an abomination. No wonder this band is on Napalm these days. Kamelot used to be the classiest power metal band in a scene full of cheesy dragon slayers; now this band is mentioned in the same breath as Delain, Within Temptation, and Epica. Femme metal bands. Says it all.

This isn’t Tommy’s fault. He is still an amazing singer (just look at the latest Seventh Wonder), but with Kamelot, he is still just play-acting, impersonating Khan to pay the bills. It saddens me. Despite all this, ‘The Shadow Theory’ isn’t the worst Kamelot album. I think that prize would go to ‘Poetry For The Poisoned’. But it’s the weakest and most obvious during Karevik’s reign. And I don’t see it getting any better from here.