Tuesday, October 26

Kamelot - Poetry For The Poisoned

Poetry For The Poisoned


I have a rather extensive and nostalgic history with Kamelot, which began in February of 2000, when the band's fourth effort (no less titled The Fourth Legacy) was unleashed here in the United States; they were the first melodic metal band I really got into that was under the radar in terms of popularity and, at the time, scene recognition (though that has, of course, since changed) and, as they say, the rest was more or less history. I was hooked on The Fourth Legacy the way I was hooked on Iron Maiden's Piece Of Mind three or four years prior to that; Kamelot ultimately helped to change the way I looked at music and was certainly the catalyst for the musical explorations that are still relevant and prominent in my tastes today. Nearly ten years later, and with a number of albums now under their belt since The Fourth Legacy, the Americans, German and Norwegian have yet to disappoint, with Poetry For The Poison being no exception.

Ghost Opera, the band's 2007 effort, took a bit of time to saturate into my conscious fully, being not quite as immediate as all of the prior albums, despite The Black Halo and Epica being, specifically, potentially difficult albums to fully appreciate due to their density on first listen; no less, it took a few spins though, slowly but surely, the songs became rooted in my heart and the album has since become a favorite. Poetry For The Poisoned has had a similar effect, really unfurling its wings more and more with each listen; I would say, if I were to rate the album on the first two listens or so, I would have given it a mere seven out of ten whilst, when you reach the final score below, you will see that that has changed somewhat considerably now that I've listened through the album about ten times (and probably more).

In essence, this is Kamelot doing what they do: crafting sophisticated, layered yet structurally rather accessible songs that have, over the course of their career, become delightfully saturated in melancholy, moreso than on the early efforts. Roy Khan is, without question, one of the most talented vocalists in metal today, being right up there with the likes of Hansi Kürsch and Tony Kakko (a couple of my favorites, anyway); his voice has grown with every release and I am confident in saying that Poetry For The Poisoned features his most stellar performance yet, which is perhaps a bit difficult to believe, considering just how incredible his voice is to begin with (though it is, no less, true :P). As usual, the production team of Sascha Paeth and Miro delivers beautifully, with the audible texture of this particular album being somewhat warm and almost organic, showcasing the growth of not only the band but the production duo's capabilities as well.

The opening track, as well as the album's "hit" - The Great Pandemonium - kicks things off with an ethnic flare and a driving groove, containing all of the band's mid-paced signatures, including the undeniably heaviness and catchiness (though perhaps not as immediate as March Of Mephisto or Rule The World); Thomas Youngblood's solo here is particularly exceptional, as well.

When Tomorrow Comes, Hunter's Season and Once Upon A Time could be considered the most classic sounding power metal pieces on the album, all featuring soaring choruses, beautiful melodies and, of course, double-bass a-plenty; Hunter's Season is particularly stirring, perhaps due to the song's dedication being to Mr. Youngblood's late mother.

Seal Of Woven Years and House On A Hill are both worth a mention as well, showcasing the band integrating ballad-esque themes and sensibilities within a rather metallic context; they're actually a couple of my personal favorites from the album, and are yet another fine example of the band's capacity to think outside of the box a bit.

Poetry For The Poisoned is, by and large, my favorite composition on the album, being divided into four parts/tracks: Incubus, So Long, All Is Over and Dissection. Incubus is unbelievably haunting, with the "Come with me tonight, tell me how it feels to be alive ..." bit being goosebump-inducing every time I hear it; this is, undoubtedly, the band amidst their darkest depths yet. The spectral sounds give way quickly enough to a frantic symphonic section, which arrives as quickly as it departs, crashing down at the beginning of the achingly beautiful second piece, So Long. As hopefully made clear, this song is quite dynamic and progressive, going through a number of changes in a relatively short period of time, which proves to be true with All Is Over and Dissection as well; needless to say, it is more than effective, and I may even go as far as saying it's the best Kamelot piece yet, though there's a lot of competition for that tag. ;) Nevertheless, it's absolutely amazing and is definitely the album's centerpiece.

Overall, I am rather happy with the direction Kamelot has taken, even if further away from that straight-up power metal sound some would prefer; they have grown yet have also clearly stayed true to their sound and their essence. There are not many artists who have stayed so close to their core whilst simultaneously integrating as much experimentation as Kamelot has, without it ever reaching any kind of narcissistic excess; truly, they are masters of their craft, and I don't anticipate the quality of their future releases waning anytime soon. ;) One of the 2010's best!

9 // 10

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