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4.8 out of 5 stars18
4.8 out of 5 stars
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on 22 February 2005
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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on 4 April 2007
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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on 19 December 2005
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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on 6 September 2008
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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on 19 May 2009
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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on 21 January 2015
It's about time that I got down with my pen and wrote a review for this album, because this is another one of those precious elite works of art- that stand so mightily tall above the sea of sails that it's almost in-describable., USA progressive/power metallers - "Kamelot" have always been quite an exceptional band that have given us such superb LP entries, such as "The Fourth Legacy, Epica, Karma". But starting from about the time that 'R. Khan' came on board from early in-to the bands career, you could tell that something incredible was brewing. Each time, a successionally better album than the one before it, was building an icon upon progress.

...and progression is here alright, as is a fantastic display/arrangement of musical influences. This is pure enchanting music built from the ground up:- and the quality of the soundscapes and musical transitions aptly reflect this. From a more general point of view:- this is an album that is fairly hard to pigeon-hole. Sure there are metal crucibles:- like the epic charade of 'March Of Mephisto', and the bulk of the progressive/powerade's of... 'The Lights Are Down, Soul Society, This Pain, Moonlight, The Black Halo, Nothing Ever Dies and Serenade'; and these contrast a few much more soothing ballads, like Prelude I, Abandoned, Prelude II, Prelude III'.

This is essentially a-more crossover arena of progressive and power metal of varying degrees, a slight departure perhaps from Kamelot's solid power metal grounding. In addition, I can detect several other classical:- European folk, jazz & operatic overtones/influences which collectively spice up the ingredients immeasurably; particularly within the song 'Abandoned', but what is abundantly clear however, is that the band so confidently display such an incredibly strong discipline and unison within they're songwriting abilities, musical arrangements and a ept understanding of the music worlds they are working within.

Completely unlike any other band in approach, 'The Black Halo' is absolutely a modern classic without any question. Under the very, (and still continually strong) leadership of Thomas Youngblood, they may never again be able to equalise qualities of this scale. Despite a robust bass and technically sound guitar-work, the star of this show must surely be due for 'Roy Khan's' vocal performance. What an utterly jaw-dropping and passionate display of conviction!. Even his previously stellar and majestic work in his old band:- "Conception" may arguably have been eclipsed here,... and that is certainly a very big feat to conquer indeed.

"The Black Halo" is the most beautifully articulate, soaring, towering masterpiece I have ever heard, and it deserves a place in any metal or music collectors corner.
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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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on 22 June 2006
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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on 30 July 2009
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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on 20 May 2009
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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