Friday, 26 October 2012

Kamelot - Silverthorn Review

Kamelot - Silverthorn [Power Metal]

Kamelot's tenth album marks the debut of new vocalist Tommy Karevik, who has the unenviable task of replacing/outdoing/obliterating all memories of former vocalist and undisputed fan favourite Roy Khan.

Silverthorn is a concept album that chronicles the fictitious journey of a girl called Jolee (who is depicted on the cover).

The concept is worthy and the band must be commended for their attempt, but ultimately I do not find the premise gripping enough.

On to the actual music - things don't get a whole lot better here, unfortunately, and I say this with a great deal of disappointment as a Kamelot fan.

Superficially, many of the 'expected' Kamelot elements are present in the album: dramatic, operatic vocals, steady and tasteful drumming from Casey Grillo, the usual keyboard sprinkles and more.

A deeper look, however, will reveal the following:
- Tommy Karevik is clearly a competent and respectable vocalist. However, he makes the grave mistake of trying too hard to emulate Roy Khan and falls flat. I'm not one of those MARTY FRIEDMAN WILL ALWAYS BE MEGADETH'S BEST GUITARIST LOL types who clings onto the past, but it's painfully obvious that Karevik is way out of his depth trying to be the second Roy Khan.

- The spoken word segments in some of the songs don't add a great deal in the way of either atmosphere and meaning. They do at times get fairly annoying.

- Guitarist and founding member Thomas Youngblood hasn't improved one jot as a musician or composer since the last album. It seems that he's content to just coast through his career with the band, which is disappointing.

- The guest vocals from Elize Ryd and Alissa White-Gluz don't add a great deal to the songs. The two ladies are obviously talented (White-Gluz packs a mean scream) but here, their vocals have been edited and processed to death and as a result sound sterile. Kamelot has in the past worked wonders with guest vocalists - this time around, the same cannot be said.

Not all is doom and gloom with the album, however: keyboardist Oliver Palotai seems to be reveling in his newly-increased role with the band and puts out a few snazzy lines and solos, drummer Grillo is his usual solid, steady self (if a bit restrained) and bassist Sean Tibbetts holds everything together with his understated style. The production is clean-cut as well and a marked improvement from earlier albums.

However, when compared with past efforts, this album doesn't fare very well at all. The songwriting is unusually bland (a huge let-down considering what the band members are typically capable of), the vocals are overprocessed and a tad try-hardy and the guitar work from Youngblood is mediocre (as has always been the case, but you always hope for something positive with each album).

Fans of Kamelot or power metal/operatic music in general, don't expect a lot from this album.
Rating: ★★☆☆☆ Passable - One or two good songs, a bit of flow

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