“The Black Halo” by Kamelot

Artist: Kamelot
Title: “The Black Halo”
Label: SPV Records
Release Date: 3/15/2005
Genre: Heavy Metal
Rating: 8/10

As I listened to “The Black Halo” I felt a bit behind the times when I realized that this would be my first time hearing the music of Kamelot in a full sitting. Before this I had only heard samples of their last effort “Epica” which is not to be confused with the Dutch band of the same name. It was pretty quick into this listen that I also realized that this was the type of band that I had been looking for when it came to intelligent Melodic Power Metal. The genre has a powerful ally as Kamelot most certainly deliver in an amazing fashion by using killer musical hooks that are all led by an incredible vocal range. On this release vocalist Roy Khan and the guys continue along with their running theme of using the literary classic “Faust” for the albums storyline. When the CD begins with the “March Of Mephisto” you are treated to one of the first guest vocalists on the album as Khan shares the duties with Shagrath, from the Norwegian Black Metal band Dimmu Borgir. It is the perfect role for Shagrath as he brings darkness to the tune. The second vocalist joining Kamelot on the album is the beautiful Simone Simons from Operatic Power Metal sensations Epica. She and Khan share the words on “The Haunting (Somewhere In Time)” and this is a stellar number. Light and Dark prominently featured on the same record a mere song apart from each other. If you are among those that enjoy slower tracks there is “Abandoned” and “Moonlight” with Khan handling them with a fine tuned degree of passion. There is nothing like a power ballad when it is done correctly. Should you be looking for lightning quick tracks then the band also provides a number of these for you to enjoy. The standouts in this area are “Soul Society”, “When The Lights Are Down” and “Nothing Ever Dies”. There is enough double bass patterns and intricate guitar work in these to satisfy the most discerning of Metal fans.

Kamelot is made up of Roy Khan (vocals), Thomas Youngblood (guitars), Glenn Barry (bass), & Casey Grillo (drums). Keyboards were handled on the recording by Mori while some were provided by Stratovarius’ own Jens Johansson. All of this combined with the guest stars give you an interesting journey on “The Black Halo”. The band calls this a tale of “Love and Wonder, Life and Death” through the eyes of Kamelot and despite my citing several numbers of note I must inform readers that the CD is difficult to turn off when you begin to listen. The more I listened the more I felt that Khan was probably one of the best vocalists around today. Not an easy feat to make me think with Rob Halford and Geoff Tate still performing and touring. With “The Black Halo” there is a good chance that Kamelot has given us not only their career defining work but also one of the best Power Metal records for 2005. Fans that enjoy old Queensryche and Crimson Glory or similar bands that aimed to take you to different worlds with their music will definitely enjoy this group and find themselves also looking into their back catalog as I have begun to do. I look forward to the next chapter that Kamelot will bring to us. Until then reflect upon this piece and then join us as we wait patiently.

Track Listing:
1. The March Of Mephisto
2. When The Lights Are Down
3. The Haunting (Somewhere In Time)
4. Soul Society
5. Interlude I: Dei Gratia
6. Abandoned
7. This Pain
8. Moonlight
9. Interlude II: Un Assassinio Molto Silenzioso
10. The Black Halo
11. Nothing Ever Dies
12. Memento Mori
13. Interlude III: Midnight – Twelve Tolls For A New Day
14. Serenade

Official Website: www.Kamelot.com

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