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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Album so far - review by SnowVixen
I've always liked Kamelot, though I felt that they'd peaked at Karma, and would never really be able to grab the intensity and passion of that album again. This prediction held true during the somewhat lackluster Epica, though it's hardly an album I'd consider "bad". Logically, I assumed this trend would continue on it's downward slide and had no real hope for this album,...
Published on 22 Feb 2005 by stebee9

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Reluctant 3
In my opinion Kamelot's finest album. However the vinyl arrived warped, otherwise speedy service and great product.
Published 3 months ago by Joseph Botting


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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Album so far - review by SnowVixen, 22 Feb 2005
This review is from: The Black Halo (Audio CD)
I've always liked Kamelot, though I felt that they'd peaked at Karma, and would never really be able to grab the intensity and passion of that album again. This prediction held true during the somewhat lackluster Epica, though it's hardly an album I'd consider "bad". Logically, I assumed this trend would continue on it's downward slide and had no real hope for this album, assuming it would be somewhere between "generic" and "commercial to the point of lameness". Kamelot... I apologize for doubting you.
The vocals, as is somewhat expected from Mr. Khan, are passionate, emotive and consistently strong. His soft, almost sultry, tenor is one of the things I've always liked about this group and they don't fail to deliver here. Never do they even attempt to go out of their range, and I greatly enjoy that reserved approach. Helping him on occasion are a number of additional vocalists that sound damn good in their parts as well. Whether it's one of the various women, the choral harmonies or even Shagrath's grunt, nothing seems out of place or used for just token effect. Whoever arranged the vocal layering, my hat goes off to you.
The guitars aren't what I expected either, having a crunch far stronger than on either Epica or Karma. Every track on this album has a groove to it, but nothing so groovy as to think "oh god, a metalcore influence". This is a groove more reminiscent of Impellitteri, and some of the guitar theatrics reminded me of him at times. Of course, there's a fair deal of soaring guitar as well, but that's never been Kamelot's focus and I'd prefer it stay that way. The solos at no point seem forced, flowing almost seamlessly, and always appropriate to the song. Oddly, the solos are normally where I get annoyed with power metal albums, and I had none of these problems here.
The bass is not only audible, but crisp and clear, often aiding the rhythm guitar or symphony backing in giving an extra layer of depth to the music. Nothing is particulrly intricate, but it's well arranged to say the least. The same could be said for the drums, opting for a much more varied approach than the standard blasting double bass/ 4/4 snare beat. Nothing too fancy, with a lot of hi-hat and cymbal work, and definitely a nice break from the mundane.
Normally, a band with an orchestra is a near horrifying combination. Either the symphony is used to a nauseatingly simplistic effect, or it overwhelms the metal and degrades it to a slightly more aggressive film score. This album has none of these issues. The arrangements are done nigh flawlessly, often building to a near orgasmic bombastic point toward the end of some of the songs. Inversely, they also back off when need be, giving the guitars or vocals space in the forefront as warranted. They also don't have that flutey leaning that's been so common in power metal, instead favoring strings and horns for a much stronger sound. Though, on occasion, a piano driven piece with a choral backing is used to a near chilling effect.
Some things I specifically enjoyed about this album wasn't just in the forefront, but the background. An acoustic guitar piece here played under the vocal line, a piano diddy there behind the riff, a vocal croon accompanying the soaring solo... the sheer level of thought and detail put into this album is simply amazing. Where most bands would battle for the forefront and do rhythm simplicity when they can't be the center of attention, Kamelot instead opts to put just as much thought in the background as in the foreground. Some of these things are very subtle, but well worth looking out for. The crisp production itself may have helped me notice these things, but the arrangement is what has me so thoroughly impressed.
This album does run the standard Kamelot gamut of song types, from the emotive ballad to the near neoclassical speedy tracks to the sweeping epics and back down to the near mechanical anthemic battle march. The one "flaw", because I'm sure some would consider it one, is that no songs truly stand out from the others. Personally, I find this lack of a definite single a sign of a strong album and will not complain because of it. Prior fans of the band should be thoroughly impressed by this outing and those unfamiliar with them, this is as good as any place to start. I, for once, have absolutely no complaints about this album. This wasn't some album churned out solely to move product... this was someone's baby, brought about and arranged with a loving care I find so sorely lacking in today's music scene. This is simply beautiful and nothing short of a work of art.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Supreme progressive metal., 4 April 2007
By 
Transcendence (Adelaide,South Australia) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Black Halo (Audio CD)
Kamelot can be proud of themselves for being trend setters rather than followers for like-minded bands in the progressive metal genre. The band debuted in 1994 with the release of `Eternity' and approximately two years later the sophomore album `Dominion' was released propelling Kamelot into the spotlight by giving them the recognition they deserve.

After recording these two albums, singer Marc Vanderbilt left the band for greener pastures. Both albums were very melodic, forward-thinking in approach and Vanderbilt possessed an amazing vocal register being compared to at the time with the very mysterious and flamboyant, Midnight, from Crimson Glory. The media

praised the release of `Eternity' hailing it as one of the most promising debuts ever.

After Vanderbilt's departure, this Florida based band recruited Norwegian singer extrodinaire, Roy Khan, ex Conception (R.I.P.), to fill the vocal spot returning the band to a quartet. The main nucleus and mastermind of the band is founding member and guitarist, Thomas Youngblood who is the inspirational force, both musically as well as creatively.

Since those halcyon days, the Kamelot sound has developed with each new album and the band has become very technical as all the musicians are supreme masters of their individual instruments. The voice of Khan is very enchanting and during his younger days received opera training which has equipped him superbly for his job in Kamelot. He has a mid to high range vocal range, having total control over his voice when reaching the high notes. Some of his best work can be heard singing ballads, leaving the listener bewildered as to just how superior he is.

`The black Halo' was released in 2005 and quite possibility their most accomplished work to date. It has a symphonic feel, but the song writing only has got better, not that any of the previous albums were inferior. To the contrary in fact, as Kamelot have delivered the goods each time like the amazing `The forth Legacy' and `Epica' albums, showcasing what a professional ensemble they are.

`The Black Halo' was recorded at the Gate Studio in Germany with long-time producer Sascha Paeth (Angra, Rhapsody). There are a whole host of guest musicians contributing to various songs like: Shagrath (Dimmu Borgir), Simone Simons (Epica) and Jens Johansson (Stratovarius) to name only a few. Furthermore, the band used a choir and symphony orchestra to give the album that extra classical and bombastic touch.

The album is concept based, drawing the battle-lines between good and evil (the story began on the `Epica' release) and it is adapted from Goethe's Faustus. It really is about political, cultural and religious events at Goethe's time and is a rather interesting storyline indeed.

Guitarist Thomas Youngblood has an incredible feel for the music he creates, incorporating some interesting staccato guitar work. He is extraordinarily talented and does not buy into the progressive metal guitar tomfoolery that some bands like to show off with extended solos etc.

Powerhouse drummer, Casey Grillo delivers what can be described as a sonic blast from start to finish. The use of the double-bass drum is very apparent and he lays down some awesome footwork, giving the music such power in the faster songs. Bassist Glenn Barry is also great to listen too and the bass is right in the mix giving support to the rest of the instruments.

Overall, a great album from one of the best progressive metal bands to grace our planet. I would encourage individuals that haven't heard of Kamelot before to check them out as they are truly inspirational.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Class, Quality & Comittment, 19 Dec 2005
By 
Mr. Alexander P. Mcritchie "alexander_mcritchie" (Peterborough, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: The Black Halo (Audio CD)
Like a regular Amazon buyer, I had checked previous reviews of the band's previous albums as well as this one and felt this to be this best intro to the band. Iwas not wrong! From the dark instrumental intro into of March Of Mephisto to the deeply sad but beautiful emotion of Abandoned, this album covers the full gamut of the human emotional spectrum. There is something here for all lovers of quality rock music. There is not one bad track here and there is a fluidity and quality of songwriting that is breathtaking. Khan's vocals are akin to where Geoff Tate should have been now with Queensryche and Youngblood just keeps it all together! Check the band's website for sample videos & songs. I highly recommend this album to any lover of rock from 15 to 50 (I'm nearly there!) Nuff Said - Buy It!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unique and awesome, 6 Sep 2008
By 
This review is from: The Black Halo (Audio CD)
This album is class. 'March of Memphisto' opens with a grandeous marching riff and it sounds like the hordes of Sauron going into war. Then it slows for Khan's amazing vocals to begin. Khan's vocals are absolutely breathtaking. His operatic training is obvious from the start of this song and throughout the album.

The first four tracks could be classed as 'Progressive Metal' because the nice distorted guitar riffs form the backbone of the music. I love the guitar solos on this album. For example, 'Soul Society' has a fantastic quiet interlude which leads into some nice scale-dancing fingerwork. This is extremely uplifting and stirring music!

My favourite moment of the album is when Kahn chants the track 5 Interlude which moves seemlessly with piano work into 'Abandon' and his voice is heavenly here. It is just him singing with a piano and string accompaniment. Hardly traditional metal this is definitely showing the bands love of the grandeous and operatic. Then in comes the female voice as it builds to the crescendo.

There are some serious metal riffs on this album such as start of 'The Black Halo'. There are also some serious symphonic, operatic moments which makes for a amazing and unique mix.

I recommend this album to everyone that appreciates progressive, symphonic, gothic metal or contempory rock arrangements (I'm thinking of War of the Worlds) to give this a listen. I personally think that all open-minded music lovers should give this a listen. It is too unique to be stereotyped into a particular genre.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kamelot - The Black Halo, 19 May 2009
By 
Michael (Hastings, England.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Black Halo (Audio CD)
I had been meaning to get The Black Halo for quite a long time and I finally ordered it the other day and I'm kicking myself for not getting it sooner. It's epic and powerful with layers of melody and aggressive riffs. Roy Khan has an amazing singing voice and this has two guest vocalists - Shagrath of Dimmu Borgir in March Of Mephisto and Simone Simons of Epica in The Haunting (Somewhere In Time). The three short interludes probably wouldn't be missed had they been left out but it all goes with the concept of the album. Catchy choruses, rich vocals and excellent musicianship makes this CD a winner.

Don't kick yourself.
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5.0 out of 5 stars ...metal vinyl mayhem..., 26 Mar 2009
By 
Mr. H "Mr H" (Embra) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Black Halo [VINYL] (Vinyl)
The latest installment of the SPV / Steamhammer 25th birthday celebrations, and it's more metal mayhem with this set.

UNLEASHED / KAMELOT vinyl reissues

UNLEASHED - Hammer Battalions

Unleashed have been pounding out Viking death metal for two decades now, so when this came out last year, I was amazed at the power, potency and malevolence that ran through songs like the anti-Christian tracts `The Greatest Of All Lies' and `Long Before Winters Call', and the metal call to arms of the title track.

Now, it sounds even better, as it appears on vinyl, although what I would have given for a full on 2LP release! Even so, the urge to lift my battle axe and start cleaving grows stronger with every play. A bona fide classic, replete with gatefold sleeve.

KAMELOT - The Black Halo

As delighted as I was to see "Ghost Opera" coming out on heavy duty vinyl, nothing could prepare me for the sheer, unadulterated pleasure of placing my needle in the groove, and having `March Of Mephisto' blaring from the speakers! It's the kind of thing that almost makes life worth living.

This release is probably my favourite so far, as it's presented in 2LP fashion, with the glorious artwork spread across the gatefold an inner sleeves. It's a thing of utter beauty and I've spent almost as much time looking at it, as I have playing it.

Some of Kamelots best songs so far, are here, with the aforementioned `March', `Soul Society' and, of course, `Memento Mori' amongst the finest prog / power metal crossover tunes you are ever likely to hear. Based loosely on Goethe's "Faust", this is the kind of thing that metal was invented for.

Sadly, there is no number bigger than 5 on the ratings scale, but if there were a 6, this would get it. Absolutely awesome.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Best Progressive Metal Albums Ever...., 22 Jun 2006
By 
This review is from: The Black Halo (Audio CD)
I think the other reviewers have pretty much summed up the technical aspects of this album.

I bought this album when it came out, and it blew me away. I listened to it today after the first time and ages and it still hits the mark. The distortion levels, vocals, orchestration and dynamics are unbelievable. If you're tired of progressive metal bands not achieving their potential, or just looking for something new (and metaltastic) then I recommend giving this a whirl.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A true classic from Kamelot, 30 July 2009
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This review is from: The Black Halo (Audio CD)
From start to finish you are truly entertained, and left wanting more ......
From March of Mephisto through to the final track Serenade
it's hard to find fault. Exceptional vocals, lyrics and complex
but catchy musical composition make this a must have album.
Buy it then sit back and enjoy!
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5.0 out of 5 stars This will hug your ears, 20 May 2009
By 
G. Kovacs "Pinkseph" (Worcester, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Black Halo (Audio CD)
This CD is for anyone with a love of music full stop.

i listened to a 30 second sample on itunes and i knew i needed this in my CD collection. when i heard the crashing guitars i thought "great, another Slipknot style band". how wrong........

the voice that comes with the slightly harsh instruments is almost orchestral and complements it beautifully, this really is a unique band. if you have not heard of this band before, this is the disc for you as it offers a bit of everything that they do within their music.

For instance, Abandoned is a piano style piece and is a haunting piece too, but March Of Mephisto is the complete opposite, however, they still sound like they should be on the same CD. vey good work from a very good band and by no means perfect, but not far off.
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars the most ocnception like album of kamelot ?, 22 Feb 2005
This review is from: The Black Halo (Audio CD)
KAMELOT managed to get one of metal's best vocalists when they managed to convince ex-CONCEPTION Roy Chan, to join them, a few years ago, replacing the impeccable and amazing Mark Vanderbilt at the vocal helm. Since then, they have released a barrage of sensational prog inclined, lyrical power metal albums and have established them in the upper echelon of the given genres ranks, easily nullifying some rather boring and Trite Europower bands, with their weak, one dimensional and rather flat singers. This spring KAMELOT will unleash their god knows 8th, perhaps album, if we consider the live album, a proper release. "The black halo" continues their unbroken line of awesome albums. Much heavier, than the rather allegro and lighter "Epica", this album veers into progressive territory, while I'm not sure that if it continues the concept introduced, in "Epica". I distinctly heard the mention of the name Helena, and the character from epica, also adorn the beautiful cover of this release, so I gather this must be the case. "Epica pt2". To make things even weirder and keep tongue, firmly in cheek, KAMELOT, have invited EPICA'S Ms Simone Simmons, to contribute the female vocals. Ms Simmons is a spirited Mezzo-Soprano that really enhances some of the compositions, with her beautiful ethereal delivery. While the bombast is intact here, I think the band has opted to adopt a darker, mid paced and rather less presumptuous direction. This might loose them a few points with the first time listener that might expect to be impressed by the fast paced bombast of some catchy whirlwind, but actually will probably win them a few points with the established fan base, as it adds a bit of variation to the usual proceedings, making this release a rather unpredictable, yet unlikely welcome surprise to the casual listener. Roy is his usual, god like, one of the best new generation vocalists out there along the likes of Jorn and a few others. Most excellent. Things are rather simple, if you liked "Epica", then you need to get "The Black Halo". If you like bands like CONCEPTION, CRIMSON GLORY, DREAM THEATRE and their ilk, this comes highly recommended. If you have never heard the band, imagine MAGNUM, if they played power metal, (Gee, chances are though, that you might not now MAGNUM either though... oh well.) The album might be a little less flashy than the previous ones, but it's immensely more rewarding, after 2-3 listens. The songs, make great use of the rhythmical parts to crawl under your skin, instead of simply basing them selves on a catchy chorus alone, not that they 're lacking in that department. I 'm very pleased. "The march of mephisto" reminded me of CRIMSON GLORY's "Where dragon's rule" with it's building rhythm, or something from the mid pace songs on"fourth legacy". "When the lights are down" is fast, but it's chorus is so classy and so sweet, it's really mind boggling, Imagine Queensryche, given a double bass kick, but retaining the lyricism. "The haunting" features the charming ms Simmons and is as beautiful as she is. :D "Abandoned" is the usual, tear jerking ballad (which this time is a bit of a let down really - as "Don't you cry" a "Sailorman's Hymn" and "On the coldest winter night" were probably among the best ballads I have ever heard. Each an every song holds a different promise and it fulfils it, to the letter. "Moonlight" is fragile as it is beautiful and the self-titled song, is punishing as it is, magnificent. "Memento mori" . This is real prog metal, without becoming tiresome, powerful, without becoming cheesy, it just feels SO right. Spin it a couple of times and listen to it after "Epica". A superb followup. "Nothing ever dies" almost lends a motif from an old RIOT song, and updates it to something almost, waltz like (WTF?!!) which is just so cool. "Memento Mori" is just another gem, in the bands crown, multi faceted, climatic, cinematic, ah amazing will do it justice. Somebody please stop me from praising this record, cause I might go on and write a book. Just imagine, that I 'm a sucker for commercial stuff and this is the exact opposite. Most pleasantly surprised. A really cerebral experience.
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