Music Monday

Music Monday: Kamelot-The Beginning of a Journey

This was the band that started it all. This band started my passion and obsession for metal music. I was just watching different anime AMVs on youtube, enjoying the montages of all the best action scenes of a few shows I was obsessed with at the time. One particular video used the song, Forever, by the power metal band Kamelot. Something about hearing the orchestra with a metal band really got to me. I’d been in love with symphonies and orchestras for most of my life thanks to movie and video game score creators. But never before had I heard such a strong symphony sound behind the powerful metal instruments. They have their main and bass guitarist, drums and keys, and vocals. But adding a hint of violin and a brass section? It seemed almost illegal to my ears. I’m sure I would have found the world of metal eventually, but I am glad it was this song by this group that led me there.

I found Kamelot after the transition of its lead singers, from Roy Khan to Tommy Karevik. Khan suffered a burnout and left the band during 2010-2011. I was sad to have missed his time with the band but I enjoy all their old albums. It wasn’t just the music that got me, Khan’s powerful and elegant vocals were the final hook to draw me in completely. I know a common stereotype is to assume metal is all about brash, growling, and screaming, but clean vocals are actually more prevalent than it seems on the surface. Roy Khan delivers the lyrics both strong and gentle at the same time, effortlessly switching notes and keys while keeping the speed and energy of the music strong. It’s very impressive how he keeps his vocals very clear why singing.

Kamelot has a decent mix of studio albums and concept albums, only adding another reason to love this music. I see quite a few concept albums in the power metal genres. I love stories, they make life so much more interesting. Many are aware of stories told in books, movies, video games, etc., but I feel like storytelling in concept albums doesn’t get the attention and praise it deserves. My personal favourites from Kamelot are Epica and The Black Halo, concept albums inspired by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s tragic play Faust. I never knew of this play until researching the story behind these two albums, and I’m glad to have learned it. It’s quite a tragic yet intriguing play. I have to admit the telling through Kamelot’s music appeals to me more. This is the type of album that you have to listen to fully through, not on shuffle, because the story is in the music and the lyrics. This was actually the first band that taught me what concept albums are. Of course, singular songs can tell great stories, but a whole album with a dedicated plot, with vocalists for characters and each song giving off what mood you should be feeling for that specific moment, it’s like listening to a book with its own musical score.

Kamelot’s newer music is still quite amazing. Roy Khan is considered a power legend in the eyes of many, but his successor, Tommy Karevik, is certainly no less. The newer albums feel a bit different to me, but at the same time, I can still tell it’s the same band. I know having to switch lead singers is difficult. Replacing their drummer or keyboardist is a huge change nonetheless, but it feels like those are easier transitions compared to changing the vocals, one of the most notable changes you can hear in band music. Karevik has a similar style to Khan and when I first discovered the band, I actually didn’t know it wasn’t Khan in the 2012 album Silverthorn. Although I can tell the difference now, they still have that uncanny similar style and accent. I understand Khan needed to take a break and leave the industry temporarily for his health, and I believe Karevik was a good choice for continuing the band. The latest albums have been a mix of studio and concept albums, making new songs but keeping a continuous storytelling aspect. I thought I had read somewhere that guitarist Thomas Youngblood said the lastest two albums with Karevik, Haven and The Shadow Theory, are loosely connected plot-wise, but at this time I can’t find my source for that. If true, I think that would be an amazing concept since both of the albums have post-apocalyptic and dystopian themes in the story behind the music. There’s also just something about those dark tragic themes that gets my full attention in music. A lot of metal feels it takes that fictionally devastating route, subjects that I think make the best stories. The horrible themes may not be for everyone but it brings in such deep thinking for the tales it creates. It just makes each individual song so much more enjoyable to hear whether the first time or millionth time.

This is one of those bands I can never get enough of. In a shuffled playlist, I find it impossible to skip anything by this amazing group. This was, again, the first band I heard to lead me down the metalhead path. As mentioned once, my top three metal choices are power, progressive, and symphonic. Kamelot falls into each of these categories, so I guess it only makes sense those became my three of choice. This band helped to enrich my life by adding to my addiction to music, opening my door to an entirely new world of music that I didn’t expect to exist. They continue to impress me with each release of singles and albums. I’m glad to have discovered such an incredible group and such a powerful music genre.

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