Review by Claire Frays
A fair amount of uncertainty has surrounded the past two years of Kamelot’s history, with the departure of Kamelot’s much loved frontman Roy Khan leaving many fans questioning whether the band could recover from such a drastic line-up change. For hardcore Kamelot fans the thought of a “Khan-less” Kamelot was akin to the world ending!
This is not the first time that the Tampa based Power Metallers have switched vocalists, with Mark Vanderbilt handling vocals for the first two Kamelot albums before Khan’s arrival, who casual fans probably haven’t heard of, and those that do know of him have more than likely had a bit of a giggle at the line ‘Oh black tower what is your power’. And so with big shoes to follow, could new frontman Tommy Karevik (also of Swedish Progressive Metal outfit Seventh Wonder continue where Khan left off and kick-start the new Kamelot era in fine style? Put simply, yes he could!
‘Silverthorn’ is Kamelot’s tenth studio album and their third concept album release. Kamelot guitarist Thomas Youngblood explains that the concept behind ‘Silverthorn’ is:
“… the story of a young girl who dies in the arms of her two twin brothers, taking the three siblings’ big secret to her grave. The songs on Silverthorn talk about despair, a sense of guilt and the pursuit of truth. In this context, the silver thorn in the album title has a mysterious meaning, but it’s up to the listener to unveil this secret.”
With a mystical and enthralling concept ‘Silverthorn’ opens spectacularly with instrumental track ‘Manus Dei’ filled with epic choir chants – not at all dissimilar to the bombastic orchestrations of the likes of Nightwish and Rhapsody Of Fire – and is rounded off with a narrative shrouded in mystery. This feeds the listener into ‘Sacrimony (Angel Of Afterlife)’ featuring sterling guest vocals from Elize Ryd (Amaranthe) and Alissa White-Gluz (The Agonist). It’s catchy, it’s dramatic, all three vocalists “bring it”, and the keyboard and guitar solos are absolutely killer. Without a doubt the stand out track of the entire album – Just sheer Kamelot perfection.
‘Song For Jolee’ ranks as one of Silverthorn’s most thrilling tracks and is amongst the best ballads Kamelot has written to date, and they have some beautiful ballads in their collection – ‘Don’t You Cry’, ‘Wander’, ‘Abandoned’ anyone? It is filled with heartfelt raw emotion and despair especially in the lines “I’d trade eternity for one last look at you” and “I’ll keep on writing to the angels so that you’re safe ‘til the moment we meet again”. Utterly beautiful.
The near nine minute long ‘Prodigal Son’ is a further highlight of the album. The song is split into three parts ‘Funeral’, ‘Burden Of Shame’ and, ‘The Journey’. The song begins with the sound of haunting organ melodies accompanied with the sounds of a mournful Karevik and choir, before building into some stunning pieces of guitar work from Thomas Youngblood. Impressive drumming from Casey Grillo and symphonic riffage on the keys from Oliver Palotai bring the song to an epic conclusion. It perhaps doesn’t quite reach the heights of ‘Memento Mori’ (The Black Halo) and ‘Elizabeth’ (Karma) but is a decent song nonetheless.
Part of the reason why this album works so well is that Karevik’s voice isn’t all that dissimilar to Roy Khan’s, and so the Kamelot style remains fully intact. Admittedly, the album does take a couple of a listens to fully shine in all its light. But with that being said, Kamelot is a band that really comes to life in the live arena where they bring added intensity and theatrical drama to their music through a combination of dynamic stage presence and extremely tight musicianship.
Does ‘Silverthorn’ reinvent the wheel? No. But it does provide fans with all they have come to expect from Kamelot and signifies a solid and exciting start to a new Kamelot era.
8 out of 10
1. Manus Dei
2. Sacrimony (Angel of Afterlife)
3. Ashes To Ashes
5. Song For Jolee
7. My Confession
9. Falling Like The Fahrenheit
11. Prodigal Son
Part I – Funerale
Part II – Burden of Shame
Part III – The Journey
Additionally there is a special edition version of ‘Silverthorn’ containing instrumental versions of all tracks and a bonus track, ‘Grace’.