01. Manus Dei
02. Sacrimony (Angel of Afterlife)
03. Ashes to Ashes
05. Song for Jolee
07. My Confession
09. Falling Like the Fahrenheit
11. Prodigal Son
It is always a nice surprise when a band can regroup after the loss of a quintessential member. That is exactly where we find Kamelot in 2012; two years after the release of their last, and not so stellar, studio effort, Poetry for the Poisoned, and a little over a year and a half since the announcement that star vocalist Roy Khan — the driving force behind the band’s sound for over a decade — had decided to depart from the band. While some would argue that vocalists are not that important to metal, it would seem that the majority of people still see the importance of having a strong voice to accompany, and lend itself to the music of a band. Roy Khan was a staple, nay, the staple that held the band and the fanbase together for so long, with his incredible range, and one of a kind delivery and performance, it seemed almost pointless for Kamelot to continue on after his departure. However, fans were delighted when Tommy Karevik, vocalist for power/prog outfit Seventh Wonder, was announced as Khan’s replacement. With his great reputation, and indisputable quality as a vocalist, could he truly fill the shoes of Khan, and Would Thomas Youngblood and crew be able to craft another masterpiece along the lines of 2003’s Epica, and 2005’s The Black Halo? Well, gather round and we’ll dissect this record for a hot minute.
As is usually the case with Kamelot albums, Silverthorn starts things off slowly with a show setting intro, sort of like a musical, where the overture contains musical and lyrical themes that gives the audience a hint at what will be carried out through the remainder of the show. Compared to the band’s previous efforts, ‘Manus Dei’ is quite a track, with sweeping violins, and a haunting vocal line from Tommy, it perfectly sets the mood for the creepy concept that is about to unfold. It almost feels like a complete song, whereas the band’s other intros were just that, intros, and this is actually quite a nice touch, as the song is rather good, and could have gone on for several more minutes without over staying its welcome.
However, that can’t really be said for the majority of the album. The album was presented as the ‘heaviest’ and ‘darkest’ album the band has ever written, but for a cheesy power metal band, that’s not all that great of thing. The songs are more guitar oriented, but the melodies and leads are far less unique, and sound watered down at times. The drums have a bit more life to them than usual, but the flair that the band use to wield has diminished in a lot of places. There are still cool symphonic elements here and there, and the keyboard sections are just as beautiful as always, but they lack the variety and pizazz of previous efforts from the band, including Poetry for the Poison, which was a highly experimental album that gets a lot more flak than it should. And for the most part Tommy’s voice sounds really great against the Kamelot sound, but seeing as this is a concept album, the loss of the grandiose feel to the music is quite a hit.
Speaking of Tommy’s vocals, it has to be said that he does imitate Roy Khan quite a bit. This isn’t an altogether terrible fact, as Khan was a terrific vocalist, but it would have been nice to hear some of the wider range of Tommy’s vocals on this record. His performance as a whole seems stifled and far too guided, as his voice is kept to a lower register here, so as to keep the sound and cadence similar to that of Khan. Even the phrasing of his lyrics are almost identical to that of Khan’s. It’s just a shame that he couldn’t pull out his full vocal flavor on here, as it could have really made the album something special.
That’s not to say the album is entirely off putting. The first single, ‘Sacrimony (Angel of Afterlife)’, is a heavy, and bombastic power/prog track, and one of the darkest songs Kamelot has ever written. While it’s easy to see that they were trying to repeat the success of a song like ‘March of Mephisto’ off of The Black Halo, easily the band’s most lauded song, ‘Sacrimony’ hardly steals from that track, and truly makes a mark on the listener, and the band’s catalog as a whole, much better than the lackluster approach to ‘The Great Pandemonium’ off of Poetry for the Poisoned. There are a few other standout tracks, such as ‘Ashes to Ashes’, ‘Torn’, and ‘Prodigal Son’, but these few outliers can’t change the fact that most of this album just feels bland. It’s not a problem of the album being rushed, as it does feel rather pristine on the surface, and the production is impeccable, it’s just that the songwriting just isn’t up to par with the rest of the band’s catalog.
It’s a shame that this band has continually fallen in esteem, as they were once one of the most phenomenal bands in the power metal scene, but with the loss of Roy Khan, and some continuing sonic missteps along their career, it’s hard to imagine them rebounding into the great band they once were. For fans of the band, you may find something appealing about this record, as it’s hard to sway the die-hard fans, but for this fan, Silverthorn is just another rusty spoke in the wheel that is Kamelot.
Kamelot – Silverthorn gets…