KAMELOT - The Black Halo

Kamelot - The Black Halo

14 songs
58:43 minutes
***** *****
Steamhammer / SPV


Kamelot are one of the more enduring progressive metal bands, and although The Black Halo is already their seventh studio release, until now I somehow managed never to hear them before. A big mistake, as listening to their new album proves.

Fourteen songs in just under one hour, with no boring instrumental intro, a couple of small but original pieces that lead you from song to song, and finally a very daring attitude make this record something else from the very beginning. Or would you have thought of hearing Dimmu Borgir's Shagrath growling on the opener? But don't worry, Kamelot always stay on the melodic side of prog metal, but instead of making this a so-called song-oriented album (meaning: a dull succession of stale songs), they really worked hard on a loose concept about the Faust myth, with pieces so different from each other that every time you listen again makes you discover new facets. Already the aforementioned opener March Of Mephisto is a dramatic showcase of dark melodic metal that sets you into the right mood, before the shorter When The Lights Are Down shows that Kamelot are equally at ease with fast straight-forward heavy metal. The Haunting (Somewhere In Time) is again a more epic piece with a remarkable chorus. Soul Society even adds to the bombast, before a first interludium sets the mood for the gloomy ballad Abandoned. The technical and fierce This Pain seems to emphasise that this is no time for slowing down.

The entire album keeps this unbelievably high level of quality, with special mention going to the second short piece (genuine Italian cabaret… from an American band) and the epic long track Memento Mori.

Most of what is sold as progressive metal lately is nothing more than technically impressive but creatively lacking music. Kamelot are an exception to the rule, by inheriting all that was good about early Queensryche, Helstar and the underrated Heir Apparent, and adding their own touch of contemporary hardness and darkness. Either this will be a groundbreaking piece of modern prog metal, aiming at melodic and dark metal fans alike, or – and let's hope this will not be the case – become a candidate to sit between all the chairs. The Black Halo is a marvellous masterpiece you can be happy to discover at most once a year, and this has been told to you by someone who feels disenfranchised by most what is going on in the metal genre these days.

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