by Justin Gaines
– Senior Columnist/News Editor —
2015 is shaping up to be a very good year for fans of Symphonic/Progressive/Power Metal. We’ve already seen outstanding releases from Nightwish and Damnation Angels; now Kamelot has delivered their much-anticipated follow-up to 2012’s Silverthorn. The new album, the band’s eleventh studio release to date, is titled Haven, and it’s the second album to feature Tommy Karevik (also of Seventh Wonder) on vocals. As with the last few Kamelot releases, Haven features guest appearances, this time by Charlotte Wessels (Delain), Alissa White-Gluz (Arch Enemy) and Troy Donockley (Nightwish).
Kamelot is arguably the best in the business at this kind of metal, and the musicianship, orchestration, melodies and vocals on Haven simply cannot be denied. These are all completely enjoyable songs, and the melodies are extremely infectious; so much so that you’ll find yourself humming them later in the day. As to the vocals, at this point Karevik totally owns this role. He pulls off the same aura that Khan had, but he has even more range and depth. And it still feels like they haven’t quite tapped his full potential, which is pretty amazing.
Haven gets off to an extremely strong start with the one-two punch of “Fallen Star” and “Insomnia,” both of which have melodies that go straight to your head. “Citizen Zero” has the kind of impossible-to-resist rhythms that bring to mind “March of Mephisto,” and “Veil of Elysium” (which features a duet with Charlotte Wessels) sounds like it could have come from Epica. On the second half of the album, “Beautiful Apocalypse” and the pair of songs with Alissa White-Gluz are the standouts.
If Haven has a downside, it’s that it’s perhaps too familiar. Kamelot played it safe with Silverthorn, which made sense seeing as how they had to introduce a new vocalist without scaring away their long-time fans. Given how well Karevik was received though, it’s a little disappointing to see them follow that same formula again on Haven. Not that they needed to reinvent the wheel, but it feels like they took zero chances with this album. The song structures, melodies and vocal performances all seem interchangeable with those on Silverthorn.
Even if they didn’t stretch the boundaries with this album, Haven is still a very satisfying Symphonic/Progressive/Power Metal album from a band that plays this kind of music very, very well. Aside from those few disgruntled Khan fanboys still holding out, it’s hard to imagine anyone who liked the last few Kamelot releases not getting into Haven. It is very much a Kamelot album in sound and spirit, and is one of the better albums 2015 has to offer.
Edition Notes: There are various CD and LP formats of Haven available. The best of them have a second disc’s worth of acoustic, orchestral and instrumental versions of the regular Haven songs. None of which are essential to casual fans, but they’re an interesting addition for the Kamelot die-hards.
Genre: Progressive Metal, Power Metal, Symphonic Metal
Sean Tibbetts (b)
Thomas Youngblood (g)
Casey Grillo (d)
Oliver Palotai (k)
Tommy Karevik (v)
1. Fallen Star
3. Citizen Zero
4. Veil of Elysium
5. Under Grey Skies
6. My Therapy
8. End of Innocence
9. Beautiful Apocalypse
10. Liar Liar (Wasteland Monarchy)
11. Here’s To the Fall
Label: Napalm Records
Hardrock Haven Rating: 8.75/10