I have to admit up front, this band is very new to me. Thanks to the wonders of the internet and internet radio, a track from Kamelot showed up on one of my Pandora radio stations (my Fates Warning station). It started slowly, built nicely, and then erupted into a marching, anthemic, powerful song. This was a band I needed to hear more of, and their most recent release "The Black Halo" seemed like a good place to start.
Kamelot are what I would call progressive power metal. And saying this is the best power metal album I have ever heard would really not be that much of a compliment. So, instead, I will say this is one of the best melodic metal albums I have ever heard. A continuation of their previous release, "Epica", "The Black Halo" carries on their retelling of the story of Faust and his deal with the devil. Like its epic source material, this album is powerful and epic in many ways as well. The album starts off with a stunning opening track "March of Mephisto", made all that more effective by guest vocalist Shagrath (of Dimmu Borgir) as the voice of Mephisto. From there, the album never looks back.
The music is melodic, moving, powerful and at times even poignant. Form the slower paced march of the first track, to the double bass flurry of the second and so on, the album moves and weaves, deftly weaving from fast to slow, light to heavy, while never losing sight of the melodic nature that makes this music so accessible to anyone. Broken up into four segments, three short interludes create the divisions. Yet somehow, the band even manages to make the interludes interesting. Power metal is known for over-the-top, fantastical lyrics, but perhaps due to the subject matter with such a rich tradition and history, Kamelot avoids that pitfall on the album. The talent of the members shines through on each track as well. The playing is excellent, the singing marvelous, and the production is just about perfect.
Tracks to catch: "March of Mephisto" is a powerful, thunderous opener that instantly draws the listener in. Emotional, gripping, and moving, there are few first tracks that are as great as this one. However, it gets even better. The epic "Memento Mori" is brilliant. A melodic and hauntingly beautiful beginning is balanced by a fast paced, dynamic metal tune. This is quickly becoming one of my favorite songs. Ever. The title track "The Black Halo" is great, with excellent guitars and keyboards complementing each other. "Interlude I: Dei Gratia", though short, is wonderful, with a melody that leaves you slightly unsettled.