PODCAST: Episode 119: Thomas Youngblood of Kamelot 

Ghost Cult caught up with Thomas Youngblood of Kamelot recently to discuss their brand new live album/concert DVD and Blu-ray Kamelot – I Am The Empire – Live From The 013,  out now via Napalm Records (review here). Thomas talked about the new live album, the production and planning that went into the concerts, the specialness of the 013 Poppodium venue in Tilburg, working with guests such as Elize Ryd of Amaranthe, Lauren Hart of Once HumNetheran, German string quartet Eklipse, Charlotte Wessels of Delain and Alissa White Gluz of Arch Enemy, Avantasia guitarist Sascha Paeth, writing materials with guests in mind, performing with a children’s choir, which included his son,  how he has been spending the pandemic, and plans for new Kamelot music. Purchase the live album set at this link and listen to our chat.  Continue reading

REVIEW: Kamelot – I Am The Empire – Live From The 013

Ah, gigs. Remember them? Well,  I Am The Empire – Live From The 013 (Napalm Records), the new live release by veteran power metal act Kamelot is a welcome reminder of what live entertainment looked like in a pre-Covid world. 

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ALBUM REVIEW: Delain – Apocalypse and Chill

The fifth full-length release from Delain finds the Dutch symphonic metal act looking towards the future with a combined sense of fear and optimism. Appearing to presage dark, dystopian times, the riffs and beats on the latest album Apocalypse & Chill (Napalm Records) are countered (for the most part) by the uplifting vocal melodies of singer Charlotte Wessels as they suggest a more hopeful future. Continue reading

Delain – Hunter’s Moon

The final part of a trilogy which began with the Lunar Prelude EP and continued with the Moonbathers full length, Hunter’s Moon (all Napalm Records) is the latest EP by Dutch Symphonic Metal act Delain. Comprising four new tracks and a selection of live cuts recorded on the 2017 ‘Danse Macabre’ tour in Utrecht, the live show is also included as a Blu-Ray disc. Continue reading

Phantasma – The Deviant Hearts

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It seems that being in one band just isn’t enough for some musicians these days. Especially within the European Power and Symphonic Metal scenes. Quite possibly two of the most (musically) incestuous genres of all, there seems to be an unwritten law that every band has to release an album featuring a bare minimum of one special guest, or contain at least two members who have performed, produced or written material for no fewer than three other bands. So it comes as no surprise to find that the first release from Phantasma, a collective effort from Charlotte Wessels (Delain), Georg Neuhauser (Serenity) and Oliver Philipps (Everon), contains performances from no less than six guest musicians. As enticing as that prospect may be to fans of the acts involved, it’s all too common for collaborations like this to end with mixed or disappointing results, and The Deviant Hearts (Napalm) is no exception.

Opening with a nice, but rather twee sounding duet from Wessels and Neuhauser, the piano played ‘Incomplete’ sounds like it would have been more at home at the end of the record rather than the beginning. Evergrey vocalist Tom Englund lends his voice to the powerful title track, and things continue in good form with ‘Runaway Gray’. Easily the best track on the album, it features a superb performance by Wessels, with more than a hint of James Bond theme song about the verses, and even a touch of Rush during the middle section.

Things take a hefty downward turn, however, with ‘Try’. A horribly overwrought ballad featuring Trans-Siberian Orchestra singer Chloe Lowery, who although clearly capable of belting out high notes with ease, seems unable to sing softly without her voice cracking on almost every line. ‘Enter Dreamscape’ is a substantial improvement on the previous track, but it’s still just standard fare which sounds like it could have been written for any band within the genre.

‘Miserable Me’ begins by slowing down and reworking the tune to ‘Money, Money, Money’ by Abba before plodding off to nowhere interesting. Duet ‘The Lotus and the Willow’ is an attempt at recreating the Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue classic ‘Where The Wild Roses Grow’ but falls miles short of the mark. An insipid and forgettable tune, the song only lifts off momentarily during its Top Gun-esque guitar solo. ‘Crimson Course’ is another nondescript song that sounds like it could have been written for anyone, and the only memorable thing about ‘Carry Me Home’ is the return of that Top Gun style guitar solo.

By now, everything has started to sound like music from movies and other bands, and ‘The Sound of Fear’ does nothing to change that by appearing to be several old songs at once. The upbeat ‘Novaturient’ rescues things a little until it tries to be Meat Loaf, and ‘Let It Die’ closes proceedings as best it can, but it’s essentially just another song with nothing more to offer than a reasonably strong chorus.

At its best, The Deviant Hearts is a good, listenable album with two or three memorable songs, a handful of strong choruses, and some excellent vocal performances by Wessels and Neuhauser. But for the most part, it’s just a collection of songs not strong enough to make it onto the albums of any of the bands involved.

 

5.5/10

 

GARY ALCOCK

Kamelot – Haven

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Haven (Napalm), American Power Metal band Kamelot’s eleventh studio album and second since the departure of Roy Khan, is an album that sounds like a musical at heart, like it was fastidiously crafted to be performed on Broadway. Its stylings and symphonic groundings and Tommy Karevik’s leading man performance all point to it, and so effective is their dramatic voice, perhaps taking their work to the theatrical stage is the next step they need to take to fully realize a legacy that has been consolidated by consistency.

Historically, the Floridians have always been walked on safe, and not the wild, side. A touch of fantasy, a host of symphonics, with soaring, immaculate vocals on top, they have always delivered and always sounded utmost in their professionalism and musicianship, but never truly excited; a band that, while most definitely best in class (though perhaps by default), are at times too slick and lack the insanity/genius of a great.

The heady mix of Savatage, Dream Theater and Queensrÿche coupled with effective symphonics and Andrew Lloyd Webber musical theatrics is near-perfected in opening duo ‘Fallen Star’ and ‘Insomnia’, up there with the best tracks of the bands’ career, but it is with ‘Under Grey Skies’ and the addition of Charlotte Wessels’ (Delain) dreamy vocals and Troy Donockley (Nightwish)’s tin whistle that matters bloom and the full epic musical scale of the vision for the album begins to be realized. It sails close to the Eurovision ballad wind, but it’s a beautiful song fully suited to a soundtrack or a musical. Elsewhere, downtuned staccato rhythms underpin grandiose unveilings and Karevik dispels any notions that the band can’t succeed without Khan with an assured performance; actor, narrator, singer, frontman and further proof that the line between Kamelot’s albums and musical theatre is a thin one.

All the previous criticisms can apply: this is a slick, professional band, but on Haven Kamelot have once again verified they are best in class, and have found an emotional connection. No longer cold to the touch, they are bringing to life their vision most effectively and with genuine zest. While retaining all the expected hallmarks, it is most definitely meticulously put together (if the devil is in the detail, then Haven is positively Satanic) but there is something more to it; something exuberant bubbling through. You would expect a band entering their third decade to have the requisite chops, but you wouldn’t necessarily expect them to be injecting such vitality and vigour into the mix.

 

7.5/10

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STEVE TOVEY

Lyric Video – Kamelot – Veil Of Elysium

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Symphonic metallers Kamelot is streaming their lyric video for “Veil Of Elysium” off of their forthcoming album Haven, out May 4, 2015 in North America via Napalm Records/ADA/Warner and May 8, 2015 for the rest of the world via Napalm Records/Universal. View it below.

The album was produced by acclaimed music producer Sascha Paeth and mastered by Jacob Hansen. Additional guests include Alissa White-Gluz (Arch Enemy), Troy Donockley (Nightwish) and Charlotte Wessels (Delain). The cover and artwork was created by Stefan Heilemann and additional art/layout was done by Gustavo Sazes.

Haven Track Listing:
01: Fallen Star
02: Insomnia
03: Citizen Zero
04: Veil of Elysium
05: Under Grey Skies
06: My Therapy
07: Ecclesia
08: End of Innocence
09: Beautiful Apocalypse
10: Liar Liar (Wasteland Monarchy)
11: Here’s To The Fall
12: Revolution
13: Haven

Kamelot North American Tour With Special Guest Dragonforce:
Apr 27: Soundstage – Baltimore, MD
Apr 28: Trocadero Theater – Philadelphia, PA
Apr 29: Webster Hall – New York, NY
May 01: The Palladium – Worcester, MA
May 02: Metropolis – Montreal, QC
May 03: Phoenix Concert Theater – Toronto, ON
May 05: Newport Music Hall – Columbus, OH
May 06: Mojoes – Joliet, IL
May 07: Mill City Nights – Minneapolis, MN
May 09: Garrick Centre – Winnipeg, MB
May 10: Louis Pub – Saskatoon, SK
May 11: MacEwan Hall – Calgary, AB
May 12: Union Hall – Edmonton, AB
May 14: Regency Center – San Francisco, CA
May 15: City National Grove – Anaheim, CA
May 16: The Marquee – Tempe, AZ
May 18: Ogden Theater – Denver, CO
May 20: Emo’s – Austin, TX
May 21: New Orleans Civic Theater – New Orleans, LA
May 22: Iron City Live – Birmingham, IL
May 23: House of Blues – Orlando, FL

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Kamelot Confirm Upcoming Tour Schedule

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Symphonic metallers Kamelot will be releasing their new album Haven on May 5, 2015 in North America and May 8, 2015 in Europe via Kamelot Music LLCon (Napalm Records/Universal and Napalm Records/ADA/Warner).

Produced by acclaimed music producer Sascha Paeth and mastered by Jacob Hansen, Haven is a massive album that is sure to please critics and fans alike. Additional guests include Alissa White-Gluz (Arch Enemy), Troy Donockley (Nightwish) and Charlotte Wessels (Delain). The breath-taking cover and artwork was created by Stefan Heilemann and additional art/layout was done by Gustavo Sazes.

Cover Artwork by Stefan Heilemann

Cover Artwork by Stefan Heilemann

HAVEN Track Listing:
1. Fallen Star
2. Insomnia
3. Citizen Zero
4. Veil of Elysium
5. Under Grey Skies
6. My Therapy
7. Ecclesia
8. End of Innocence
9. Beautiful Apocalypse
10. Liar Liar (Wasteland Monarchy)
11. Here’s To The Fall
12. Revolution
13. Haven

EXCLUSIVE BONUS CD Track List:
Available only with the LTD Mediabook and Deluxe Earbook!
1. End Of Innocence Piano Version
2. Veil of Elysium Acoustic Version
3. Fallen Star Orchestral Version
4. Here’s To The Fall Orchestral Version
5. My Therapy Orchestral Version
6. Fallen Star Instrumental
7. Insomnia Instrumental
8. Citizen Zero Instrumental
9. Veil of Elysium Instrumental
10. Under Grey Skies Instrumental
11. My Therapy Instrumental
12. End of Innocence Instrumental
13. Beautiful Apocalypse Instrumental
14. Liar Liar (Wasteland Monarchy) Instrumental
15. Revolution Instrumental

Catch KAMELOT live on their upcoming shows:
Mar 12: Button Factory – IRL – Dublin (IR)
Mar 13: HammerFest VII Festival – Pwllheli (UK)
Mar 14: O2 Academy Islington – London (UK)
Apr 25: José Cuervo Salón – Mexico D.F (MX)
Jul 09: Masters Of Rock Festival – Vizovice (CZ)

KAMELOT North American Tour With Special Guest Dragonforce:
Apr 27: Soundstage – Baltimore, MD
Apr 28: Trocadero Theater – Philadelphia, PA
Apr 29: Webster Hall – New York, NY
May 01: The Palladium – Worcester, MA
May 02: Metropolis – Montreal, QC
May 03: Phoenix Concert Theater – Toronto, ON
May 05: Newport Music Hall – Columbus, OH
May 06: Mojoes – Joliet, IL
May 07: Mill City Nights – Minneapolis, MN
May 09: Garrick Centre – Winnipeg, MB
May 10: Louis Pub – Saskatoon, SK
May 11: MacEwan Hall – Calgary, AL
May 12: Union Hall – Edmonton, AB
May 14: Regency Center – San Francisco, CA
May 15: City National Grove – Anaheim, CA
May 16: The Marquee – Tempe, AZ
May 18: Ogden Theater – Denver, CO
May 20: Emo’s – Austin, TX
May 21: New Orleans Civic Theater – New Orleans, LA
May 22: Iron City Live – Birmingham, IL
May 23: House of Blues – Orlando, FL

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Delain – The Human Contradiction

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Dutch symphonic metal five piece Delain have just released their highly anticipated fourth full-length output, which lyrically continues the well-received We Are The Others (2012). The more generic gothic metal of the early days has been replaced by a distinctive sound, which inclines more towards symphonic metal and is heavier, more melodic and more original than ever before in the career of the formation.

 

The quintet displays great attention to detail, the rhythm section of Otto Schimmelpenninck van der Oije (bass) and Sander Zoer (drums) lays a firm foundation for Timo Somers passionate fretwork, which lends Delain’s sound a very energetic vibe. Moreover, the band has paid particular attention to the vocals, which are a lot more varied then on previous releases.

 

On the one hand that is surely due to Charlotte Wessels diverse vocals, which are as sweet as they are powerful and manage to draw you in completely. Over the last years, the chanteuse’s voice has become considerably more distinct and expressive, making her much more mature as a vocalist and resulting in her best performance as yet.

 

On the other hand it’s down to the versatile input of the assembled guest musicians. Most prominent amongst them, certainly Nightwish’s Marco Hietala, whose intense voice forms a stark contrast to Charlotte’s more endearing tones and who provides the two songs he sings in (‘My Body Is A Battleground’, ‘Sing To Me’),with a rougher edge. A further highlight on the record are George Oosthoek’s powerful grunts in the philosophical ‘Tell Me, Mechanist’ and last but not least the impressive growls of Alyssia White-Gluz (Arch Enemy, ex-The Agonist), in the highly symphonic but at the same time rather heavy, ‘The Tragedy Of The Commons’, which are a true delight for every metal head.

The Human Contradiction (released on their new label home, Napalm Records) contains nine carefully crafted and evocative compositions, which strikingly display all of Delain’s trademarks, energetic riffing, catchy melodies and arresting female vocals, but also present some fresh elements. With keyboarder and mastermind Martijn Westerholt (ex-Within Temptation) back in the producer’s chair, the band has managed to fashion their best release to date, making you want to hit the repeat button over and over again.

Delain band USE first in interview

9.5/10

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Isabell Köster