Kamelot_Haven2It can be a herculean challenge to replace a vocalist synonymous with the core sound of a band. Judas Priest and Iron Maiden certainly couldn’t do it, but AC/DC and Accept managed it quite nicely. With Haven, album number two with “new” singer Tommy Karevik (AyreonSeventh Wonder) replacing Roy Khan, it seems safe to add Kamelot to the latter group. Following in the footsteps of the surprisingly good Silverthorn, Haven manages to do a lot of the same things right, and they’ve crafted yet another platter full of tasteful prog-power frills and finery. It’s still the same Kamelot you know and love (or hate), and it continues to appear that the shake up in the vocal department lit a fire under their dignified arses, as they’re still writing material more urgent than what appeared on those last few albums with Roy Khan.

As always in Kamelot Land, the watchwords are: polish, class and refinement. These guys have always taken themselves and their music very seriously and unsurprisingly, Haven is full of metal that could play at Lincoln Center with only a few monocles dropping in shock. Opener “Falling Star” delivers their rich, mildly neo-classical pomp with just enough metallic oomph to get it over, and Tommy sounds like his voice was made for this kind of music. The chorus offers cognac-smooth bombast and everything seems like business as usual in the upper crusty neighborhood Kamelot calls home.

Subsequent tracks build nicely upon one another, with “Insomnia” as the album “single” offering more actual metal woven into the band’s classic sound and Tommy sounds particularly good here. Yes, he also sounds exactly like Roy Khan, but it works and the chorus is a winner. This segues into the much darker and ominous “Citizen Zero” which is like the edgier material on Silverthorn, and that’s the sweet spot where the band truly shines. This is the standout in my book, with a heavy stomp akin to “March of Mephisto” and a wickedly dark energy that blends perfectly with their more grandiose tendencies.

Tommy KamelotOther highpoints include the traditional power metal gallop of “Veil of Elysium,” which is this album’s “Wings of Eternity,” the urgent, Operation: Mindcrime like darkness of “My Therapy” and the industrial-tinged heaviness of “Revolution” where Alissa White-Gluz of Arch Enemy drops some harsh snarls and roars.

The obligatory ballads are respectable, with “Under Grey Skies” coming across best thanks to the lovely vocals of Charlotte Wessels (Delain), but neither really blows me away. Haven also runs a bit long at 53 minutes, and though the material is of high quality, I found my attention waning by the ninth track or so. I suppose with such ostentatious fare, it could have ended up much longer, but it’s a lot of pageantry for one session.

My biggest issue with Haven is that they dialed back the heaviness and (relatively) gritty edge present on Silverthorn. It isn’t a major shift, but that album definitely had a darker vibe that really worked. That darkness surfaces at times here, but this is much more a “typical” Kamelot album in mood and atmosphere.

Musically, these cats are snotty Euro-conservatory ready. Thomas Youngblood is a gifted guitarist and his playing and writing drip with class and decorum. Paired with the keyboards of Oliver Palotai, his riffing and soloing form the neo-classical lace doily center of the Kamelot sound and it sounds as good as ever. Sean Tibbett’s bass is less prominent this time out and the interesting, discordant flourishes from Silverthorn are nowhere to be found, which is a shame.

Kamelot_2015a

Naturally, most of the attention will focus on Tommy’s performance, and he does a great job. He has a powerful, versatile voice and uses it to the full advantage of the songs. Still, he does continue to mimic Roy Khan a bit too much and though he’s certainly no Ripper Owens [Insert AMG tirade here], he needs to add more of his own style or  risk unfair comparisons. The man has a ton of talent, seems to have brought new life to the band and I was sold on him last time out. His work here merely reinforces my favorable opinion.

A slight step down from Silverthorn, but Haven is another glossy, slick and highfaluting outing from the royalty of American prog-power. Dress properly, light some candles, open some respectable wine and let Kamelot take you to a place well above your meager social station. Be home before midnight though, or you turn into a shameicorn.


Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Napalm Records
Websites: kamelot.com | facebook.com/kamelotofficial
Release Dates: EU: 2015.05.08 | NA: 05.04.2015

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  • Iron Maiden did do it. They replaced Paul with Bruce. :)

    • tomasjacobi

      “replace a vocalist synonymous with the core sound of a band”.
      I would argue that Paul Di’Anno was not synonymous with the core sound of the band when he was sacked. He was just the singer…

      • Lasse Momme

        But what a singer though. I still consider the Killers and Iron Maiden records the best Maiden material and Paul was a huge part of that. Talk about having your own style man, I really liked the edge he had in his voice and the work he did on those records. Running Free is still one of the greatest metal songs of all time and arguably one of the best intros.

        • tomasjacobi

          I am a huge Maiden fan and I think those 2 first albums are really great, but compared to what was to come I think they are “lesser” albums. The same with Paul, his singing style suited those albums just fine but I wouldn’t call him a great singer.

          • Lasse Momme

            from a purely technical standpoint i agree, he doesn’t even get close to Bruce, but I just think he has so much character in his voice and those records just speak to me in a way the Dickinson records, as awesome as they are, don’t.

      • There are absolutely fans who bailed when Paul left. I know them as a long-time Iron Maiden fanclub member.

        • tomasjacobi

          Sure, but the band was still not the institution it would become. It’s easier to get away with a new vocalist after 2 albums than after a long stretch of hugely successful albums. Kamelot also changed vocalist after their second album but it wasn’t such a big deal as when Khan left. Same with Maiden.

          • And Iced Earth. Who the fuck even knows the name of the guy that Barlow replaced?

          • tomasjacobi

            I remember reading an interview with Jon Schaffer a long time ago where he explained that he fired that guy because of his white supremacist/nazi viewpoints. If Jon Schaffer thinks you’re too right wing, that should ring some alarm bells!

  • robpal

    Since when Karevik is “ex-Seventh Wonder”? Did I miss something?
    I had a lot of doubt regarding “Haven”. Now I’m just excited!

    • My bad. I thought he left the band.

    • Kalsten

      I got scared too. Even today, I was listening The Great Scape of Seventh Wonder in the train. It is one of my favourite albums.

      And Karevik is a truly monster as a singer, although in Kamelot he does not sound as good as in Seventh Wonder.

      • robpal

        I think in Kamelot he’s purposely trying to sound as similar to Khan as possible. I think he talked about it in an interview.

        • Blob

          I think I remember this interview. His reasoning seems to be that he wants to do Roy justice and doesn’t want Kamelot to become Seventh Wonder Mk.II so he sings differently, but if he goes for a 3rd album I think he does need to get his own sound in there to distinguish himself a bit more

  • Rob Liz

    Kamelot is incapable of making a bad album but they are capable of making the same album over and over since Ghost Opera. The first time I heard Haven I couldn’t help but think I had heard this material before. I agree that Karevik needs to stop being Khan and be himself more. This album just seemed to be going through the motions of satiating fans who want new material and not really pushing boundaries or adding anything exciting.

    • Chris Powell

      I totally agree with this. It seems like since The Black Halo they’ve been stuck in some kind of song writing rut. Don’t get me wrong, Haven’s a pretty good album with excellent production and musicianship, but no song really stands out to me.

      For me, this has been Kamelot’s problem for a while: lots of similarly paced, similar sounding songs. I’d hoped that a new singer would have spurred a bit of a change, but instead he’s singing in Khan’s style and the band’s writing hasn’t changed a bit. Over their respective last four albums, Iron Maiden have changed more than Kamelot, and they haven’t had any lineup changes in that time.

      Immediately after listening to Haven I listened to The Fourth Legacy, the album which made me a fan. Every song on that album is distinct and stands out, and this is how old school Kamelot were far superior. The lyrics might have been pure cheese but for energy and song variety they beat modern Kamelot into a cocked hat.

  • AlphaBetaFoxface

    2 Steel reviews in one day? Egad! Such a momentous occasion that it calls for tacky, 17th century catchphrases!

    • Odd’s bodkins!

    • Monsterth Goatom

      Zooterkins!

    • Yoinks and away!

      WHAT? I’m mexican! I only have Looney Toones to blame for my entire EASL edumacation!.

    • A truly momentous occasion would be two AMG reviews in a single day. Can’t remember the last time that happened.

      • Make it so!

      • AlphaBetaFoxface

        The only one preventing that, my dear captain, is you. I can’t shower you with 17th century catch phrases until you fulfil your side of the deal. But alas, what a sight to behold that might be! With all due respect, and on behalf of all the oppressed here on this website who wish not to withstand your furious anger, make it happen!

        Madam X, protect me for I may have sinned

  • sky-net

    I totally disagree. There are passages that are a kamelot brand, that Tommy has to sing in a Roy’s way, but that’s all. This is new album is better than Silverthorn, they create really nice melodies, dark riff and beauty dynamics. It’s very good. If you want Roy back go to Norway and good luck with that. 4,5/5.0

    • You must be new here.

    • JohnC

      I’m a Kamelot fan, but nothing comes close to The Black Halo. Tommy is a very skilled vocalist, yes. They do create those things you listed, yes, they’re one of the best power metal bands in my opinion. But in sheer execution, I can go with a 3.5 from what I’ve heard on this album. The Black Halo is a 4.5/5.0 in my opinion. I don’t want Roy back, Tommy is definitely a capable singer, but the songwriting needs to step up to come anywhere close to Halo. Which is what I like about this site- it’s fair.

      • Ep 017

        Khan’s contribution to the songwriting process is actually harder to replicate than his voice it seems. I haven’t heard the new album in depth yet but they definitely seem to be playing it safe.

      • Dan

        I agree completely. But give the album a few more spins. Seems to be growing on me more than Silver did

  • brutal_sushi

    Very excited for this release. Been a huge Kamelot fan since Karma.

  • Danny Becker

    Um, ok, so Iron Maiden and Judas Priest did not add in a successor that had commercial viability. I’m a huge defender of Tim Ripper Owens era of Iron Maiden, and Blaze bailey X factor era. X-factor is better than No Prayer and Fear of the Dark imo, and has some of the most underrated songs from the band!

    Anyways, regarding Kamelot, I always thought the band were inconsistent in their songwriting. They managed to crank out some great singles, but never managed to write an Opus besides Ghost Opera, and The Black Halo. I thought Poetry for the Poison sucked, and featured Roy Kahn. Tommy, is a surrogate replacement without a doubt, but I think the band deliberately wanted it to be that way!

    One of the fundamental rules of bandsmanship’s key to success, is to have a stable vocalist, since that is the most salient thing in a band. When bands have lineup changes regarding the vocalist that deviates heavily, big problems start to ensue ie. Anthrax, Iron Maiden, Iced Earth, Sepultura. I can think of Helloween as the only band to remain unaffected with a huge vocal change. My argument is not perfect, but I think by and large this is true when concerned with BIG BANDS!

    • Grymm

      You made me picture Ripper fronting Iron Maiden. Why did you do that?

      *crying violently into my hands*

      • That’s like AMG’s worst nightmare!

        • Danny Becker

          That was a typo. I meant Judas Priest. And yes, Iron Maiden > than Judas Priest!

        • Óðhinn

          Yuck. I think I just threw up a little.

          • Danny Becker

            any reason why I can’t edit my post, so your vomited tract would be at ease?

          • It’s a fickle system. Let him suffer.

          • Óðhinn

            No. Please feel free. Thank-you. :)

        • It is literally a nightmare scenario. I will never get over this visualization.

      • sickbroski

        “We’re blood brotheeeeeeeeeeeeeeEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEERSSSSSS FUCK!”

        Yeah!

        • Grymm

          NoNoNoNoNo… STAAAAAAAAAAAHP!!!

          *crying furiously before headdesking myself into a sharpened #2 pencil*

          • sickbroski

            And now I want to hear it. :/

            “Can I play with oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo
            ooooooooooooooooooooooooOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
            AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAa
            MADNEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEESSSS!”

        • #RankAmateur

  • T.A.R.

    Aside from Helloween and Blind Guardian, personally I really struggle to look past the vocals for most power metal acts. Kamelot being one.

    Guys, recommend some power metal with clean yet not quite so cheesy vocals? Bit nit-picky I know.

    • Chronic-Headache

      anything featuring Michelle Lupi: Secret Sphere, Vision Divine, & Killing Touch

    • BaboonKing

      There are plenty of Power Metal singers that don’t conform to the Rhapsody/Stratovarius school of cheese mongering. Check out Heaven’s Gate, Dark at Dawn, Grave Digger, Virgin Steele, Iron Savior, Tad Morose…

    • Óðhinn

      I’m like you. I try and try and try, but I just dislike most Power Metal that I hear. The vocals are usually a big part of it.

    • RuySan

      Falconer and Sabaton

    • T.A.R.

      Thanks for the recommendations. I’ll check the ones I haven’t heard after work.

      • Chronic-Headache

        Let us know what you think! I second Falconer, as Mattias Blad is amazing. One of the more unique voices within power metal!

    • Accoun

      Iced Earth would be a good one, I guess.

      Interestingly, Tim “Ripper” Owens (also known as already mentioned “that Rob Halford substitute guy from Judas Priest a few years back”) was singing in it for some time until Matt Barlow returned to the band.

    • Joe Black

      Check out Lost Horizon. Best power/epic metal band in my opinion. Heiman is a remarkable vocal that sets a new criteria for everything.

      • He had such terrible overreach on his up-end, though. I like him, but he WAY overdid the wail.

        • Joe Black

          Well, in that case, Jorn Lande and Russell Allen. Although you probably heard them already, since they’re gods in their branch.

  • Are they and SW trying to replace the orb and the goat and the ouroboros with pretty women profile portraits as the trend for album covers this year?

  • nunka

    “March of Mephisto” really was a fantastic, crunchy riffstomp.

    That’s about all I have to contribute right now.

    • Rifftiptoe, honestly. Not an ounce of heavy on here, imo.

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    It’s a really good video. Though I can’t help but wonder why, before the shoot, no one mentioned to Tommy that he’d missed a spot when shaving…

  • Alexandre Barata

    Bring the red wine, they just delivered the cheese!

    • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

      If someone made Euro power-slam, would it be Bree Cheese?

    • Dan

      Red Wine and cheese is frickin delicious!

      • Alexandre Barata

        It is indeed, depending on the cheese and wine though :D

  • Chronic-Headache

    Upon first seeing the music video I was disapointed. While I still think they are playing it too safe, it is growing on me. The music doesn’t seem to match the video well…I would expect their being more robotic/futury synths for a sci-fi setting (or maybe I’ve bee listening to too much of Scar Symmetry’s latest…). But i’m starting to warm up to this song.

    As an unabashed Kamelot fanboy since 2004, I can say that I will always love this band and believe they have never realesed a BAD album (I really really liked Poetry for the poisoned). I do wish Tommy would cut the Khan crap and be himself. He and Stu Bloc both peeve me off because they refuse to be themselves.

    TL;DR – Much excite for this.
    TL;DR of TL;DR – Robots…everywhere….

  • CarvedInStone

    I wish that they’d go back to the sound of their first few records with Roy Kahn but I doubt it is going to happen.

    • Joe Black

      Imho, Karevik lacks the maturity in his voice.
      When you listen to Roy singing high pitches (he’s a baritone who studied opera for a few years before going to Conception I believe?) you can hear the “strain” in his voice, like he’s putting so damn much effort into delivering those notes for you, and if he’d go any higher, he’d explode. That’s what Tommy lacks, because it sounds too technical, generic.
      Roy’s voice would sweep me away like a hurricane. Tommy’s voice is a gentle breeze I barely feel.

      That’s just my two cents really.

      P.S. take into account I might’ve lost a point or two in the translation, or in the waking up damn early in the morning.
      Cheers.

  • Wilhelm

    Kamelot was one of those weaker sounding power metal bands; I never thought of their music as anything beyond prog power pop and never saw what the appeal was.

  • AnnieK13

    I am very much looking forward to hearing the full album but with some trepidation. Kamelot has been a favorite of mine for a while and although I can accept Tommy as vocalist I am not as pleased with the quality of the song writing. I am not thrilled with either of the songs I have heard so far but will need to hear the whole album before I will know whether it will stick with me or not. I did enjoy Silverthorn and do still play it occasionally but I will usually reach for Karma or The Black Halo before anything else.

    In any case, I enjoyed the review. Thanks.

  • brutal_sushi

    Evolution is killer track!

  • sicknick

    Speaking of Power Metal, I’d like to read a review of the new Cain’s Offering album. I think this site needs more Kotipelto.

  • This record was better than I expected. I gotta say: I think that their new vocalist is pretty good, but this band just takes itself so fucking seriously. They’re like the musical equivalent of that really, super goth kid in your high school class whose life is PAIN! PAIN I TELL YOU!

    And some of the lyrics on here are really cheesybad. Like: “Liar, liar on the wall” is Tony Kakko-worthy stuff. Aren’t there native English speakers in this band? Who the hell let that past the grammar check?

    My other complaint is that this record doesn’t feel heavy at all. It’s almost like the polish has made it so clean that it’s stopped feeling like metal. It has overdriven guitars and double bass drums, but even when someone is growling it feels kind of tepid and clean.

  • Ben Mccullough

    I don’t think this guy sounds like Roy. I used to love this band, especially Black Halo. I just cant listen to this band since he left. I think i’m also bored of the drummer playing the same thing over and over.

  • Steve

    Late to the party in this one, Tommy is awesome, it can’t be denied, he nails it totally every time he steps to the mic. I feel like the album tails off very badly towards the end, the last 3-4 songs probably don’t need to be there. While the best songs on the album are definitely super strong, collectively it doesn’t feel as solid as Silverthorn.