At the peak of their powers

Kamelot have released live albums before but this latest one captures them at the peak of their powers.

Recorded in Tilburg in the Netherlands, where the Dutch have welcomed the band with numerous sold out shows, this concert has a varied set list with around 100 minutes of live performance, if accounting for engaging Swedish singer Tommy Karevik’s stage banter. Australia got the band several months after this set was captured, so this recording provides a decent overview of the quality show that was experienced here.

Guitarist Thomas Youngblood is the band’s mastermind, and understands stage presence, as do all band members, based on the atmospherics evident on this audio format which is a companion to the filmed video release. Add in guest appearances from several talented female vocalists, a string quartet, a children’s choir and long serving Kamelot producer, guitarist Sascha Paeth – the captivating variety of icing on the musical cake is superb.  The bulk of the incredibly strong set list has material from The Shadow Theory and Haven albums, with additional selections of tracks harking back to 2001’s Karma

Starting with the operatic introduction Transcendence, once the song Phantom Divine (Shadow Empire) kicks in with Australian singer Lauren Hart from Once Human contributing, the commanding duet presence makes the strong chorus soar. New drummer Alex Landenburg and long ago returned bassist Sean Tibbetts are in powerful synchronisation throughout, whilst remarkable keyboardist Oliver Palotai provides a vast palette of musical enhancements, harmony lines and deft chorus montages. The main energy stems from how well Karevik and Youngblood work together over the musical foundation, with neither dominating over the other but emtwining their melodic abilities and sense of timing so that the songs bristle with great pacing in a live setting. 

Older tracks early on, such as Rule the World, The Great Pandemonium and When the Lights are Down all build beautifully to a powerful chorus, showing incredible vocal range against heavier rhythms, mostly with a barrelling gallop. Newer track Insomnia has great spatial dynamics together with an Eastern musical feel, crowd singalongs and a dual vocal and keyboards melody line. Time signature changes, interesting arrangements and musically self-contained solos weave their magic as well.

The first major highlight is My Confession from the Silverthorn album, which is majestic and accompanied perfectly by string quartet Eklipse. Harmonies work brilliantly and whilst the energy is notched up further with next track, Veil of Elysium, as vocals and guitar line work in unison, it is the first live performance of the haunting ballad Under Grey Skies that shows the writing depth of Kamelot’s material. Charlotte Wessels of Delain joins Karevik and the vocals skills are stunning with brief musical interludes. Both End of Innocence and RavenLight offer up further rich arrangements with great choruses. The latter also has some distinctive guitar playing from Paeth. Of course, Karevik’s powerful vocal projection skills shine and his penchant for encouraging audience vocal participation adds to the atmosphere of an enjoyable concert experience.

Musical drama unfolds with another highlight for this album in the bombastic, hammering March of Mephisto from The Black Halo. Guest vocalist Alissa White Gluz is as brutal as ever with her ferocious delivery. Massive sounding chords, blast beats and crowd chants are delivered with precision. By contrast, Amnesiac from The Shadow Theory, is catchy melodic metal that naturally has a bouncing Avantasia feel to it. Sacrimony (Angel of Afterlife) delivers up another spatially dynamic, driving metal track with the rhythm section pushing the excellent chorus, followed by climactic traded solos between keyboard and guitar, vocals from Amarathe’s Elize Ryd perfectly countering White-Gluz’ growled vocal onslaughts.

Forever gets the full, drawn out treatment. It is also an opportunity for Karevik to demonstrate his vocal vibrato and sustaining power. Burns to Embrace gets heavier with the bass and drum groove still maintaining a groove before Youngblood’s neo-classically styled guitar solo ushers in the repeated chorus, sung by an apt children’s choir which includes Youngblood’s son, to conclude.

The encore of Liar Liar (Wasteland Monarchy) again sees White Gluz add her unique vocals to the quick, power metal pomp, contrasting to Karevik’s clean vocal style before the concert performance’s bombastic end.

On this live album release, Kamelot and friends have exceptional energy. Contributing guests all add their flair and throughout, the audio quality is fantastic, capturing the atmosphere of Kamelot live perfectly. Their melodicism combined with haunting but restrained menace, undeniable musical power, stage presence and set list variety creates a very entertaining show. For all of us missing the live scene, one cannot recommend this live concert recording highly enough. Kamelot are sensational live and thankfully we have this release to prove it.

Phantom Divine (Shadow Empire)
Rule the World
The Great Pandemonium
When the Lights are Down
My Confession
Veil of Elysium
Under Grey Skies
End of Innocence
March of Mephisto
Manus Dei
Sacrimony (Angel of Afterlife)
Drums and Keys Solo
Here’s to the Fall
Burns to Embrace
Liar Liar (Wasteland Monarchy)
Ministrium (Shadow Key)