Kamelot – The Black Halo (CD)

This may just be the first progressive metal band that I have heard use a pitch changer; this occurs first on “March of Mephisto”, which is a Middle Eastern influenced romp that gives the opening of “The Black Halo” proper energy. The band speeds things up considerably during “When the Lights Are Down”, mixing crystal-clear guitar work with breakneck drumming and a set of vocals that approximate early-nineties Iron Maiden more than anything.

The most interesting thing concerning Kamelot has to be their mixture of earlier rock (bands like Queen) with a very heavy type of metal to create a brand of progressive metal; “The Haunting (Somewhere in Time)” seems to be a less nerdy Blind Guardian track. Kamelot is not a band that will win fans by brutal riffs that will smash themselves over a listener’s head, but will through a very sexy and infectious set of arrangements that tend to sneak up on listeners, especially present during “Soul Society”. In a sense, Kamelot may be the closest thing that the West has to bands like X Japan, theatric metal that has a longevity and clarity that goes beyond simple fashion and image to encompass all facets of life. Where lesser bands would wreck any momentum that could be had with the crooned track “Abandoned”, Kamelot just does not work on that wavelength.

Rather, instead of seeing “The Black Halo” as an album, one needs to see it as more of an opera; there are going to be times where a lead character has a solo that is emotionally intense, rather than the quick action of the rest of the work. Kamelot comes back to their bread and butter – theatric yet heavy rock/metal – during “This Pain”, the shrill guitars putting up a struggle with the vocals for dominance. The differing time signatures during the track keep individuals interested during the track, which is absolutely essential at this midway point. “Moonlight” comes back to the solo type of sound that was present during “Abandoned”; there is a fury present during the track that was not to be found during “Abandoned” which gives this a completely different spin than anything else that preceded it. Kamelot is a band that at least takes some of the sound and thunder from Queen, while couching an entire side of their music in a more contemporary sound. This Frankenstein’s Monster is something that any music fan should be able to get behind.

Top Tracks: Moonlight, When the Lights are Down

Rating: 6.2/10

Kamelot – The Black Halo / 2005 SPV / 14 Tracks / http://www.kamelot.com / http://www.spv.de / Reviewed 15 January 2006

[JMcQ]

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