August 12, 2020 Kamelot – I Am The Empire – Live From The 013 (Live Album Review)
Founded in 1991 in Tampa, Florida by Guitarist Thomas Youngblood along with original Drummer Richard Warner, Symphonic Metallers Kamelot have cultivated a charming, alluring sound and dedicated fanbase. Releasing Eternity in 1995, after the group was signed to Noise Records the prior year, it was hailed by critics as a promising debut. Since becoming one of the most well known acts in the genre, they have put plenty of music which includes compilations, studio, and live albums. Speaking of live albums, Kamelot return on August 14, 2020 with a majestic new live album entitled I Am The Empire – Live From The 013.
Set for release through Napalm Records digitally, as a CD digipak, a Deluxe Box (including the album), a Blu-Ray/DVD, and as vinyl formats, the album was recorded live in Tilburg, Netherlands back in 2018. Filled with 21 songs – ranging from “My Confession” to “March of Mephisto” – it also features mixing and mastering work from the highly accomplished Sascha Paeth, but also includes a slew of guest musicians.
Lifting off with soaring string introduction of “Transcendence,” the crowd roars with applause as the performance begins. A grand start, the guitar and strings soon fill the air for “Phantom Divine (Shadow Empire)” while being complimented by the vocals of Once Human’s Lauren Hart. The first full track of the performance, a mystical background of symphony and speed shattering drums keep pace with the agile, lyrical vocals. The second song, “Rule The World,” is then fueled by an unruly rhythm on guitars and a seductive, arabesque tone on strings. Here, and beyond, the singing of Tommy Karevik belts while flowing with an unforeseen finesse, moving along with the guitars like a hawk chasing prey.
With any live album some of the most important aspects to take in is the audience’s energy; you want to feel like you were actually there. That said, the energy of the crowd is plausible during “When The Lights are Down.” From the moment that the tumbling guitars and momentous drums take hold, the mood is set and there are beautiful moments of breathtaking high notes, daunting guitar solos, as well as emotive, stirring execution. The live performance then turns softer with “My Confession” featuring E-klipse, two violisnist, a cellist, and viola player from Russia. A breathtaking moment, there a prepossessing melancholy to the track that co-exists with the bouncing heft the drums and guitar. Furthermore, the vocals play off of one another in a tale of forgiveness and pain, awakening something inside you.
For “Under Grey Skies” Kamelot call on Delain Vocalist Charlotte Wessels and it is a stirring, delicate duet. The opening of the track takes upon a folksy acoustic guitar and patient violins; as it unravels the Wessels and Karevik weave a tapestry of loveliness. Things are then turn up notch on “Amnesiac,” a song filled with eclectic energy and the sharp cut of whirring synth. Which leads us to the unforgettable “Sacrimony (Angel of Afterlife)” which see guest spots from both Arch Enemy’s Alissa White Gluz and Amaranthe’s Elize Ryd. A dynamic combination, it explodes with torrid, extravagant guitars, the stygian, demonic growls of Gluz, and the orotund, ascendant singing of Ryd. A bold moment to highlight, the epic live performance has plenty in-between the lines, and it all wraps up with “Liar Liar (Wasteland Monarchy)” Once again featuring the formidable White-Gluz, by itself, the song is explosive and breathtaking, but somehow takes upon a new energy live.
An important moment in Kamelot’s story, I Am The Empire – Live From The 013 is an extravagant and grand expose of some of their most iconic songs. It is all amplified by the cast of artists who lend their talents which also include Thomas Youngblood’s son, Sascha Paeth himself, plus more who all bring a new and exciting flair. That said, Tommy Karevik’s singing never ceases to be anything short of astounding and cinematic while the rest of the band are as solid as ever. One hell of a live album, Cryptic Rock gives I Am The Empire – Live From The 013 5 out of 5 stars.