Showing posts with label kamelot. Show all posts
Showing posts with label kamelot. Show all posts

Friday, April 27, 2018

video review: 'the shadow theory' by kamelot

Well, this was... mostly disappointing, but I'm happy I got it off my schedule all the same. Eh, let's just move on.

Next up, I've got Resonators and finally some Janelle Monae, so stay tuned!

album review: 'the shadow theory' by kamelot

So when a band gets twelve albums into their career... hell, what is even left to say? Their high and low points are well-known, as are their moments of genre experimentation and flair. They've become an established quantity, and unless there is a massive paradigm shift, there becomes very little for critics like me to say...

And yet Kamelot has been different, mostly because their past few albums have been a pretty stark departure in sound with new frontman Tommy Karevik. The symphonic bombast had been ramped up, the tones were more aggressive and borderline progressive, and while Silverthorn was pretty damn solid in its own right, their 2015 follow-up Haven featured two of the best songs of 2015 and easily one of the best power ballads of the decade! It was a height that Kamelot hadn't reached in any capacity for me in over a decade, and thus I was genuinely curious how they could follow that up or if the album could match the extremely high quality of some of the individual cuts that came before. Granted, this was also coming with the departure of their longtime drummer Casey Grillo, but replacement Johan Nunez had a respectable pedigree and I was confident that Kamelot could still deliver. So, what did we get with The Shadow Theory?

Friday, January 1, 2016

the top 50 best songs of 2015

And now we're onto the list that's always the hardest for me to make, mostly because it requires by far the most work: the best songs of the year, overall. Not just hits, but singles and deep cuts from album ranging from widely successful to barely out of the underground.

And this year was harder than most, mostly because it was a damn great year for music. The charts may have been strong, but that was nothing compared to the cavalcade of great music we got, which meant that cutting this list down from thousands to around 630 to 165 to the fifty we have meant that there were a lot of painful cuts, so much so that I seriously considered instituting a one-song-per-album rule. In the end... I couldn't do it, because there were some records that were so unbelievably good that I had to include multiple entries. Now we'll be covering those albums in greater detail a bit later this week, but in the end I held to the rule that at most I could put three songs from any one album on this list - and that we easily had more of those makes my argument that was a damn solid year of music, probably better than last year's, all the more powerful. 

One more thing before we start: while I can describe music well and why it works for me on a technical level, most of the songs on this list cut a fair bit deeper than that, and thus I'll endeavor to provide some emotional context as to why they worked so well beyond a purely intellectual exercise. And of course it's my picks - there might some common overlap between my choices and other critics, but it would be disingenuous to choose tracks for 'cultural importance' rather than what really got to me more deeply.

So let's start with a track that completely threw me off-guard.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

video review: 'haven' by kamelot

This review took WAY too damn long to get out, but I'm happy I did finally get a chance to do it before the midyear - which I'm steadily polishing up, btw.

But next up, Miguel, Vince Staples, Czarface, Tyga, King Los... whoa boy, lots of hip-hop and R&B, so stay tuned!

Friday, June 26, 2015

album review: 'haven' by kamelot

Back when I first got into metal in high school, I remember having a conversation with a fellow student who was a year or two older than me who was also into metal. I told him that I was listening to a fair amount of power metal and symphonic metal, and I remember him snickering and saying, "What, like Kamelot?" At that time, I was only just getting into the genre, so I had never heard of the band, so I went home and picked up what few tracks I could find, most of which were off of the band's 2003 album Epica. And I remember thinking that while there were a few songs I dug, the band just didn't impress me in the same way that Nightwish or Blind Guardian ever did. Sure, they weren't bad, but they didn't seem all that special to me. And just like my abortive attempt to get into the band Epica around that time, I put the band aside for nearly a decade.

Fast forward to, well, now, and I started getting requests whether I would cover the newest album from Kamelot titled Haven. And at this point, I was in the mood to hear some good power metal and I figured the band deserved a more complete re-evaluation, so I began working my way through the extensive discography of Kamelot and their almost dozen albums of material across line-up changes and nearly twenty years of existence. To me, the band started hitting more of their mark on their second album Dominion, with much tighter and cohesive tracks than their debut Eternity, which featured great guitar work from their one consistent member Thomas Youngblood but definitely needed work in putting together cohesive tracks, instrumentally and lyrically. But it wouldn't be until the replacement of their drummer and lead vocalist with longtime powerhouse Roy Khan that things would materialize more, with the next two records giving them a chance to get their bearings before the absolutely stellar three punch that was Karma in 2001, Epica in 2003, and The Black Halo in 2005. And let's make this clear, if I was looking for records to win a metal fan over on Kamelot, it'd be those.

After that, Kamelot went in a more aggressively heavy direction with their next two records... unfortunately to diminishing returns, with their 2010 release Poetry For The Poisoned probably being their weakest in over a decade. But that wasn't the only issue, as singer Roy Khan left the band due to burnout, something this critic can believe given how his vocals sounded on that last record. He was replaced Tommy Karevik for their 2012 album and their third concept record Silverthorn, which actually turned out to be a pretty damn solid return to form, even if it wasn't quite at their best. So, extremely late to the punch, I decided to dig into their follow-up three years later with Haven - how does it measure up?

Sunday, October 27, 2013

album review: 'the theory of everything' by ayreon

It is one of the most ambitious and fascinating projects ever undertaken in metal - hell, some could make the argument that it's one of the biggest in music as a whole. The brainchild of a genius singer-songwriter multi-instrumentalist with a love of prog rock, psychedelia, and science fiction. A project that has spanned dozens of metal acts, big and small. For me, it has been the introduction point to so many bands to which I've consequently discovered and loved, and the fact that something coherent and engaging could have been made from it is mind-boggling.

Yes, folks, I'm talking about Ayreon, the multi-album megaproject masterminded by Arjen Lucassen. Started in 1995 with The Final Experiment, the Ayreon 'story' spanned seven albums, all of them which are good and a few are goddamn classics. In that respect, it's a little hard for me to be heavily critical of this project, partially because it played such a huge role in my discovery of progressive metal and partially because it's so goddamn great. I guess if I was going to try here, Arjen Lucassen's closest analogue in another field would be Kenneth Branagh, in that both men are fiendishly ambitious, produce highly cerebral material that can toe the line between epic and camp, and that they both have unbelievable clout in their ability to recruit players from all across their field. You want a short list of bands from where Lucassen has called up performers? How about After Forever, Blind Guardian, Dream Theater, Avantasia, Epica, Kamelot, Nightwish, Gotthard, Iron Maiden, Lacuna Coil, Rhapsody of Fire, Within Temptation, The Flower Kings, Yes, King Crimson, and even Genesis! And really, I left a whole slew of acts off the list - that's how much clout Lucassen has, and it's kind of incredible how he can call up so many different prog and metal performers to work with him time and time again.

But for those of you who don't know, the Ayreon project had its concluding element with 01011001 (the binary term for Y) in 2008, with Lucassen finally setting it aside to go onto other projects, like the follow-up Star One album and the fascinating experimentation of Guilt Machine. Yet, this year, he announced he was calling together a whole new crop of musicians to come work with him on an album titled The Theory of Everything. And as an Ayreon fan and a physics grad, I was more than intrigued by what Lucassen would be able to create from his insane vision and fetish for weird science. Joking aside, this has been my most highly anticipated album of the year thus far. So, did he pull off another classic?