Kamelot – “The Shadow Theory” (Napalm Records)
Legendary in their own right, “The Shadow Theory” is Kamelot’s 12th album and is something of a hybrid release both conceptually as well as sound wise. While the meat of the band’s career has been rooted in fantasy, this album instead draws on analytical psychology, theming itself on technology and its oppressive impact in creating a dystopian society! Likewise, the sound continues to incorporate symphonic and gothic elements with guest vocalists Lauren Hart (Once Human) and Jennifer Haben (Beyond the Black) having quite a presence across the 13 tracks here. Along with an award winning production team in Sascha Paeth (Avantasia) and Jacob Hansen (Volbeat), “The Shadow Theory” continues Kamelot’s superior standard in writing highly classy material exemplifying the elite standards of founder guitarist Thomas Youngblood! Opening in classic form comes the bombastic ‘Phantom Divine’ with its double bass drumming and wailing twin vocals from Tommy Karevik and Lauren Hart, naturally resplendent with instantly catchy melodies and flowing orchestrals. To be honest, I’m sure some fans will never get over the departure of Roy Khan, but Karevik nevertheless does a fine job, able to hit the highs while being heart renderingly tender to keep the passion that is so inherent to Kamelot. On ‘Amnesiac’ Youngblood’s heavy riffs contrast well with some cool electronica as Karevik takes the lead to culminate in an instantly catchy chorus while Youngblood’s own solo takes the song to burning levels of intensity. Clearly the man has lost none of his touch whatsoever and the guitar work on “The Shadow Theory” is nothing short of stupendous – as you might expect from Kamelot! Mixing both electronic and symphony majestically is ‘Burns To Embrace’, with Karevik in operatic tones as Youngblood adds the darkness along with dramatic cellos while the harmonies go straight to the heart through their incredible passion. Likewise, the faster pure symphony of ‘Vespertine’ with its chugging guitars and emotional strings allows Karevik once again to show his emotional reach and really take this song well into the realms of his famed predecessor, along with Youngblood’s moving, if uber dexterous solo! The dramatic passion of ‘The Proud and The Broken’ is the perfect setting for Karevik’s best performance, hitting plenty of highs although there are plenty of moments when he could be upstaged by Oliver Palotai’s spectral keys and yet another blinding spell from Youngblood – well, that’s what this band is all about! If you like your metal reeking of class and sophistication, then have little worry, as Kamelot are magically here once more to blow your mind.