Kamelot's latest album Ghost Opera
was one of my most anticipated albums of this year, considering they are one of my favorite bands. It was released on June 6th, via SPV Records. Many fans were apprehensive about this release, considering it is following to consecutively brilliant albums, Epica, and The Black Halo. The first thing a lot of fans noticed was the darker atmosphere on the album. Although this is not a concept album, the use of new orchestral elements like low trombones, tuned down guitars, and bleak subject matter definitely create a dark theme that courses through the entire album. Another thing about this album, is how visually stunning it is. From the artwork, to the Ghost Opera video, to the inside sleeves, it's just very, very, cool. One thing I've always admired about Kamelot is they put everything into their music down to the details. The guitars on the album, besides from being tuned down to dropped C#, definitely have a rawer sound, which was a conscious decision according to Thomas. The bass, is well, pretty buried in the mix, but not so much that it's non-existant. Casey's drumming seems to be a step up on this album, but nothing overly amazing. Khan's voice sounds great as usual, nothing really needs to be said there. And Oliver's keyboard and orchestrations are just brilliant. With that said, here is a short track by track breakdown of the album.
The intro to the album is a short violin solo piece, which sounds quite dark eerie, but very cool at the same time. Sets the mood perfectly for what's to come and then it runs right into...
02. Rule The World
For this one I was expecting some fast, anthemic opener in the vein of The Fourth Legacy, or Forever. However, this is a mid-paced, violin laced tune, with a chorus that carries of sort of that creepy vibe from Solitaire. Not a great song, but not terrible either. Though, as far as Kamelot's opening tracks, this one isn't one of the best.
03. Ghost Opera
Ah, the title track. This one starts off with some orchestration, then launches into the catchy melody/theme of the song, backed by some heavy riffing. Although things speed up on this one, it the dark vibe definitely does not let up. The lyrics tell the tale of a young opera singer who is on the way to her stage debut when she is attacked and raped, and now is haunted and tortured by never being able to live her dream. The main melody re-appears as the vocal line in the very catchy sing-along chorus, back with some female vocals. Very cool, emotional guitar solo by Thomas on this one. Definitely one of my favorites on the album.
04. The Human Stain
This one definitely took me off guard. The intro is pure industrial, completely with chuggy riffing, tight drumming, and some wierd sound effects. The industrial sound sort of runs through the whole song, working underneath some intricate piano and guitar melodies, but works very effectively IMO. Very cool chorus on this one, and the verses are quite good as well. Lyrically it's about preserving what we have left, the environment, eachother, and the ' stain ' we are leaving on the earth. Another one of my favorites.
Taking it's name from a heavy cruiser ship from WWII, the song starts off with some war sounds ( gun shots, helicopters, etc. ) A very nice melody leads the way into the song where it meets with some heavier verses. The song tells the tale of a young sailor of the Blücher when it is attacked and sunk, and how he is thinking of his fiance, and wonders if she is thinking of him as well. Some robotic voices take over in the pre-chorus, to simulate the voice over the loudspeaker on the ship, ( Port side is close to the shore, incoming shot across the bow ) and add a really cool, real vibe to it. Simone Simmons from Epica also provides some backup vocals on this song. Not an amazing song, but I quite like it.
06. Love You Death
Undoubtedly the the saddest song on the album, Love You To Death starts off with an asian sounding intro on the keyboards. A semi-ballad, with some heavier bits thrown in later on, this one is about a young romance where the girl is terminally ill and the last moments together. Amanda Sommerville provides the female vocals that go back and forth with Khan throughout the song. Unbelievably sad, but powerful song with a great chorus and memorable dueting between Amanda and Roy. They pull off this song without any trace of cheese, and it's a really great number.
07. Up Through The Ashes
This one kicks off with some quite ominous riffing, backed by sycned orchestration. The ominous, dark tone carries through the whole song which is quite fitting with the lyrics covering the conviction of christ. Really great chorus on this one, more uplifiting than the rest of the song, but great nonetheless. Really powerful lines in this one as well, I particularly like " Before I let you die...you must forgive me..." leading straight into the chorus. Some really cool choirs in this one as well. I'm sure this one will make a great live number.
08. Mourning Star
A gregorian chant backed by some ambient keyboard sounds leads us into this one. Soon after it explodes into a quicker, heavier number with some cool riffing and string lines. The song slows down for the chorus, which is quite good, and features some female backing vocals. Cool lyrics on this one too, and features a really cool solo. They have been playing this one live, and from what I've heard it sounds really great. I'd say this one ranks with Blucher though, not amazing, but still pretty cool.
09. Silence Of The Darkness
Very Maiden/Queensyrche-esque harmony leads us into this fast number. The dark/creepy vibe definitely makes it's apperance in the verses of this song, but lets up for the big uplifting anthemic chorus. This is the only song on the album I believe that features a real keyboard solo, which sounds pretty cool, but the guitar work definitely overshadows it. Not a huge fan of this song, I think it comes right after Edenecho as the weakest song on the album. I definitely don't hate it though.
As with the opening track I was expecting this one to be a well...anthem, haha. However, it is actually an all piano ballad, which came as wonderful surprise. It is absoutely beautiful, with Khan's vocals really shining through, and very intricate piano and strings behind him. The song has great lyrics, as Khan wrote them about his fear of becoming a father, and you can't help but love " Sing me the anthem of life..." One thing I love about Kamelot, is they are basically cheese free and have a very human, real, approach to their songwriting. The orchestral midsection is just beautiful on this one. Love this track.
Ah, the weakest track on the album. At least IMO. It starts off with a Savatage-esque intro with some piano and guitar chords working into the verses. The theme appears again the in the chorus, which really does nothing for me. It's by no means a bad song, but it has really never done anything for me personally and can't really stand up to the rest of the album. I love the pre-chorus though. During the later half of the song, choirs make another appearance which soungs pretty cool. Now that I'm listening though, I like this song more than I did, so maybe it'll grow on me more
12. The Pendulous Fall ( Bonus Track )
This song was worth the extra money for the limited edition alone. Starts off with some piano and the whole song is catchy, but the chorus is just WOW. It really should have been on the actual album. I don't really know what else to say about this one except it's one of my favorites, and it's worth the extra money.
Alright, so in conclusion, it's a really great album. It doesn't really hold a candle to the Epica/Black Halo duo, but it's really, really great nonetheless. And I'm tired of typing, so fuck it!