Kamelot – “Haven” (Napalm Records)
And so the dance continues…now onto their second album with Swedish vocalist Tommy Karevik, “Haven” takes right off its predecessor sound wise although the band this time round have opted for a far more diverse range of songs from symphonic bombastic to melancholic to darker and uplifting moods. Similarly, the tempos range from slow to fast and even aggressive, with the guitars more prominent in the mix this time round, and likewise stronger prog elements coming across, even if the overall keyboard sound seems to be less obvious. At times reminiscent of the sounds on ‘The Black Halo’ or even ‘The Fourth Legacy’, it’s definitely still the same band Thomas Youngblood started back in the early 90s, this time focusing on modern society’s increasing dependence on technology to create artificial personas of perfection in a virtual beautiful world rather than face up to reality! Ironically, “Haven” does exactly that by creating some of the most beautiful music on Earth, spiriting you away from your present state to one that is nothing short of bliss. Karevik certainly has a beautiful voice, having found his feet over two years of solid touring, and is now reaching out more in his eloquent lyrics and tender harmonies, although I would like to see more of his power in the more symphonic material as I know he has it in his range. Youngblood and co of course provide the expected sky high quality musicianship that makes Kamelot such a stylish machine, exuding sophistication in abundance through slick soundscapes, flowing keyboard melodies that reminded me of cascading waterfalls and a tight back end rhythm with a solid punch when needed. Standout tracks for me were the emotionally dynamic ‘Veil Of Elysium’ with Youngblood’s guitar work in particular exuding stunning class, the cinematic soul soothing ballad ‘Under Grey Skies’ also featuring Charlotte Wessels (Delain) and the pipes of Troy Donockley (Nightwish), and the exotic mysterious ‘Beautiful Apocalypse’. With breathtaking artistry still in their music, Kamelot are indeed the “Haven” in a world gone insane.