Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Review of Kamelot's Haven

Kamelot has had its share of ups and downs since their breakthrough in 2005 with The Black Halo. That album was a masterpiece and the two following it were solid though never quite hit the same height. Switching singer Roy Khan for Seventh Wonder's Tommy Karevik and the subsequent release of 2012's Silverthorn seemed to be a shot in the arm but arguably a conscious attempt to recapture the fire of their classic material. Unfortunately, their eleventh studio album doesn't quite keep up the momentum going even if it is put together well.

For the most part, Haven's style is about the same as it's been since The Black Halo and Ghost Opera. The production is dark but clean, the symphonic keyboards and crunchy guitars drive the style, and the vocals still sound as if Khan never left. You'll also find the usual guest appearances though they don't seem to have the same impact as usual. Delain's Charlotte Wessels has a nice duet on the rather plain "Under Gray Skies" and while Arch Enemy's Alissa White-Gluz comes back on to give "Liar Liar (Wasteland Monarchy)" a solid kick in the pants, it doesn't quite have the same effect on "Revolution."
Since Kamelot has always been a strong chorus-oriented band, the thing bringing Haven down to merely decent territory is its inconsistent songwriting. The insanely catchy "Insomnia" and the "Forever"/"Center of the Universe" rewrite "Veil of Elysium" were obvious choices for lead singles but less obvious was the choice was to start things off with the awkwardly structured "Fallen Star" instead of a single or one of the interludes that is on here for some reason. Fortunately, songs like the "March of Mephisto" recalling "Citizen Zero" and "My Therapy" (Not to be confused with "My Confession") are pretty solid rockers and "Here's To The Fall" makes for a better ballad towards the end.

Overall, Haven is an album that feels comfortable enough but the less ambitious songwriting does make it one of the weaker additions to Kamelot's discography. The singles are great and having the usual tropes in place makes it a safe purchase for fans but newcomers would be better off with going for one of their mid-career albums before this one. This is still an enjoyable album but the band may be starting to get a bit stagnant.

"Citizen Zero"
"Veil of Elysium"
"My Therapy"
"Liar Liar (Wasteland Monarchy)"

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