May 28, 2015 Kamelot – Haven (Album Review)
Florida based Power Metal band Kamelot has been one of the scenes most respected acts for over two decades now. Initially formed by guitarist Thomas Youngblood and drummer Richard Warner, Kamelot spent years building their name through consistent touring and album releases, to be rewarded in 2010 with their first North America charts album, Poetry for the Poisoned. Sustaining a variety of changes in the lineup through the years, Youngblood, bassist Sean Tibbetts, drummer Casey Grillo, and keyboardist Oliver Palotai welcomed in Swedish vocalist Tommy Karevik in 2012, ushering in a new era for the band. Received well by fans, Karevik’s debut record in 2012 with Kamelot, Silverthorn, received a boil-over of praise that has kept everyone buzzing since. Now in 2015, Kamelot fans are swept away on another journey with the band’s eleventh album, Haven. Their first on new record label Napalm Records, the band call on Stefan Heilemann once again for the cover artwork, with additional art/layout by Gustavo Sazes. Produced by acclaimed music producer Sascha Paeth and mastered by Jacob Hansen, Haven also is honored with special guests such as Alissa White-Gluz (Arch Enemy), Troy Donockley (Nightwish), and Charlotte Wessels (Delain), giving it a unique finishing touch. Released on May 5th, the record has already outsold both Poetry for the Poisoned and Silverthorn in the USA just in its first month, thus making it an album that could define the band’s career.
This unique band of melodic Metal music and lyrical stories take the audience on a ride with Haven right from the start with “Fallen Star.” With epic sound quality, the tasteful opening song is the perfect build up for what lays ahead. “Insomnia,” is a perfect song to show the band’s ability to draw the listener in while it is highlighted by Youngblood’s guitar work and Palotai’s keyboard work with an overall energizing tone. Then, “Citizen Zero” has a mellow little opener that transforms into a big, epic track that grabs hold tight, and does not let go, with a mix of Karevik’s vivid vocals, and the doomish guitar riffs. On the track “Veil of Elysium,” Kamelot offer a nice heavy melodic number with powerful drumming of Grillo and epic guitar tone provided by Youngblood. The well-written lyrics match Karevik’s singing style, making the song a flawless piece of Symphonic Metal.
Moving along, “Under Grey Skies” features special guest, multi-instrumentalist Donockley and singer Wessels, making the mellow, fairy-tale tingling song sweet to the ears. With beautiful texture and an even flow, the song is a wonderful reprieve from the heavier, faster parts of Haven. Taking on a Gothic Metal sound, “My Therapy” opens with some great keyboard melodies before the guitars take over and Karevik bleeds a sorrowful tone in his singing. Keeping the darker elements of their music flowing, “Ecclesia” is a brief interlude that would fit just right within the soundtrack of a Horror film. That is when the epic story of “End of Innocence” follows with beautiful apocalypse guitar riffs, solid drum work, and smooth vocals, making it one of the most complete tracks on the album. Keeping with a similar theme, “Liar Liar (Wasteland Monarchy)” comes on with White-Gluz providing a diverse Death Metal growl toward the end. Lanced with dual guitar/keyboard solos, the song invokes an array of emotions from start to finish.
Keeping the journey balanced with plenty of peaks and valleys, “Here’s to the Fall” is another very mellow keyboard/vocal number showing another side of Karevik’s broad range that resonates brightly. Keeping fans pleased, “Revolution” also features White-Gluz as a second vocalist with the harsher elements the song needs to match the blistering guitars and adrenaline pumping drums. Concluding the album is the keyboard driven two minute outro title track, making the epic ride of Haven a thoroughly complete one.
Haven displays a dynamic mix of music that Kamelot emotionally shows how they currently feel about the world today. After listening to the record, many would agree these songs are a soundtrack for an unforgettable and monumental silver screen experience. The songs boast dark melancholy, aggressive Metal, and soul-soothing melodies. Overall, Haven is a well-thought out masterpiece Kamelot fans will love for years to come. CrypticRock gives this album 4 out of 5 stars.