We are not destined to stay
Love is forever
The spirit is free
Time is a borrowed gift for you and me..."
One Word Review: Slick
Silverthorn is Kamelot's tenth studio album and the first with their new singer, Seventh Wonder vocalist, Tommy Karevik. Taking over from Roy Kahn is no small feat. But I thought the same when Roy Kahn took over the vocal duties after Mark Vanderbilt back in 1997.
Focusing on the vocal performances for a moment, it is my impression that Mark Vanderbilt brought a certain reckless air to the band on their first two albums. His successor, Roy Kahn, brought a sense of perfection and polish to the band. On Silverthorn, Tommy Karevik brings an eerie sense of Roy Kahn to the band.
I have several theories on why that is, but the most obvious is that this is on purpose, to ease the transition to a new vocalist with as little fallout as possible. Tommy Karevik does a fantastic job here and manages to lift quite a legacy on his shoulders without falling down. I have been a fan of his other band, Seventh Wonder for a while, and when it was announced that he was to take Roy's place, my first thought was that this was a perfect choice. That said, I have a feeling that his performance here is very controlled and I miss some letting go. I hope and expect the next Kamelot album to showcase an evolution.
Musically, Silverthorn is a step back towards the Kamelot style prior to Poetry for the Poisoned and partly, Ghost Opera. Guitar, drums and bass, create a heavy foundation but the music is symphonic in structure and a variety of classical instruments are used to enhance the atmosphere throughout the album. The melodic element is in focus and the songs feel coherent. Where Poetry For The Poisoned often felt borderline experimental, which I also liked, Silverthorn is rooted more deeply in the symphonic metal genre and happy about just being what it is.
Sacrimony is the most immediate song on the album. Fast, melodic and to the point, it feels like the band threw everything into this song, including several female guest vocalists. The song also showcases my main gripe with the album. It is a mite too polished all around.
The polish both works for and against the album for me. It gives the album a superbly smooth impression and everything feels thought out and fits together. On the other hand, it gives the album a clinical feel and I miss surprises. Maybe a different production would have helped, as the sound feels very compressed and it lacks punch.
The album demands several listens before it starts growing. At 30 listens, it is a coherent, often beautiful and definitely worthy concept album, which takes on its own identity and atmosphere. That I don't think I will be adding any of the songs to my personal favorite Kamelot top ten is of less importance, since the songs fit with the dark concept.
There are standout songs though, and with Veritas and My Confession, the album showcases some sweeping and momentarily positive vibes, which are superbly executed. The chorus of My Confession in particular, is a highlight.
Silverthorn, the title track, brings a gothic sense of uneasiness to the album. The song does a brilliant job of turning the atmosphere on its head and ends up as a nightmarish tour de force.
The album really shines in this middle part, which is actually begun by the beautiful ballad, Song for Jolee. Though the entrance of the guitar in this song is excellent, I have still not made up my mind if the symphonic part is really necessary. I have a feeling the song would have had a more poignant impact if it had just kept to its piano and voice outline.
Throughout the album, the guitar solos are short and to the point. They don't stand out or make an impression, instead, like all other instrumental sections on this album, they play up to the overall mood of the album and fit into the flow of the songs. In spite of this working in favor of the overall impression, I found myself wishing for more memorable solos.
The lyrics do a good job of giving life to the story. Dealing with loss, letting go and living with the consequences of ones actions, however fatal, with a bit of horror thrown in for good measure, the story is fascinating and entertaining, if not entirely convincing.
The production is lavish, both in the music and in the packaging, where small things make the album stand out further. I purchased the limited edition of the album, containing a poster and a 44 page storybook, beautifully illustrated and telling the entire story, upon which the album is based. A nice touch, with a sense of humor, is the fact that you can write your own name in the thank you list. With such elaborate packaging, it is a shame that there are small errors in the lyrics, most notable in Sacrimony and Prodigal Son.
The digipack version of the album is of course included, as is a bonus CD with the whole album in instrumental form. This should have made sense since the music in itself is complex, well written and worth listening to on its own. What doesn't make sense is that some nitwit decided to include certain vocal parts and choirs on the instrumental version. This makes it an awkward listening experience and killed my enjoyment of the "instrumental" version completely. This might be the first ever example of a dumbed down instrumental version of an album. I hope this doesn't become a trend.
Overall, Silverthorn is a professional, entertaining and positive experience. Even if it doesn't quite manage to reach my favorite Kamelot albums, as in Karma, Dominion and The Black Halo, it does a commendable job of introducing their new singer. In spite of losing one of the world's great vocalists, Silverthorn shows a promising future for Kamelot. I can't wait to hear what they come up with next. Here's to the hope that they will use less polish in the future and hit all nails straight on their heads.
Written By Steen
Online: Friday, December 7, 2012
Sacrimony (Angel of Afterlife)
Monday, July 15, 2013 - Scott
Steen, I could not agree more. Kamelot has work to do to climb back to the pinnacle that was "The Black Halo," but the quality of "Silverthorn" indicates that they are well on their way. Roy Khan has long been one of my favorite vocalists (dating back to Conception). In choosing Tommy Karevik, who sounds eerily similar, I believe they made the right call. Over time, I believe Tommy will show that he is much more than someone who can copy a vocal style. I'm going to see Kamelot in Atlanta, Georgia in September and am looking forward to the show.
Monday, July 22, 2013 - Steen
Yeah, Tommy has so much potential in Kamelot. I'm confident they will prove that on the next album. Have a great concert!