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Steamhammer (2012)
Rating: 8/10

Kamelot have been on top of the symphonic power metal game for a number of years now. Every time a new Kamelot album was released, the power metal world simply knew they were in for epic, grandiose metal, expertly executed and superbly produced. These guys are consummate musicians, and classically trained vocalist Roy Khan possesses arguably one of the greatest sets of pipes in modern music.

Another Kamelot record? Yes, please. But wait, what’s this? Khan is no longer in the band? How could this have happened? What is to become of power metal’s beloved Kamelot without that golden toned voice?

Fear not, because Khan’s replacement Tommy Karevik (formerly of Swedish prog metal act Seventh Wonder) fills his shoes surprisingly well. So surprising in fact that one may initially not even realise there has been a replacement.

A new vocalist – who admittedly sounds remarkably like the old one – and a new album, so how does it rate when compared to the Florida-based band’s superb back catalogue?

Silverthorn opens with ‘Manus Dei’, an intro piece to what could very well be one of the Kamelot’s most powerful and formidable pieces to date: ‘Sacrimony (Angel Of Afterlife)’. Right out of the gate this album assures you that Kamelot have not suffered from the loss of their exceptional vocalist; they simply hired a new one. ‘Sacrimony (Angel Of Afterlife)’ is one of those songs that simply begs to be played louder.

The outing continues to impress with the next two songs – ‘Ashes To Ashes’ and ‘Torn’ – which are also powerful and executed with phenomenal musicianship. Kamelot albums truly need to be listened to through headphones in order to completely immerse yourself into the music so as to catch every nuance and layer in their oftentimes complex arrangements of sound.

However, Silverthorn puts on the breaks rather dramatically a few songs in with a poignant and moving ballad, ‘Song For Jolee’, which showcases well Karevik’s finesse when dealing with less powerfully sung material.

The tempo picks back up with the remainder of the album with tracks that, while quite enjoyable, don’t quite stand out the same way as the opening material. Instrumentally and vocally songs like ‘Falling Like The Fahrenheit’, ‘Solitaire’ and ‘Prodigal Son’ are well executed, but don’t seem to bring quite the level of passion and force present in the aforementioned ‘Sacrimony (Angel Of Afterlife)’, ‘Ashes To Ashes’ and ‘Torn’.

As expected with Kamelot, Silverthorn is chock full of progressive structure, power metal bombast and superb musicianship, all wrapped together with super slick production courtesy of Avantasia guitarist Sascha Paeth, whose name is nearly synonymous with power metal these days.

This latest release stands up to the band’s previous work, not quite reaching the heights of The Black Halo (2005) or Ghost Opera (2007) but coming pretty damn close. And all in all, Silverthorn stands as an excellent album, and a very successful debut for Kamelot’s new vocalist Tommy Karevik.

On a related side note, it seems that former vocalist Roy Khan has decided to quit not only Kamelot, but the music business all together. That’s one giant loss for modern music. One can only hope that someday the illustrious Khan will once again grace the world with his extraordinary vocal talents.

Farron Watson

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