A dark and morbid — but ear-catching — slice of sonic mastery can be found in the newest Kamelot release, “Poetry for the Poisoned.” This album, though a divergence from their usual style, is still completely and utterly mind-blowing. Upon first listen, this album will seem nothing like the Kamelot of albums past. Extremely dark and heavy, it may even put off longtime fans at first. However, listen to it again, and songs like “The Great Pandemonium” and “Hunter’s Season” immediately stand out, inviting the listener to sing and headbang with the metal beat.
The band was formed in Tampa, Fla. by guitarist Thomas Youngblood and former drummer Richard Warner back in 1991. Their music falls under a number of categories — progressive metal, symphonic metal and power metal — as they incorporate many of these stylistic elements into their sound. Most apparent in “Poetry for the Poisoned” is the use of operatic vocals, a key feature of the symphonic metal genre and a staple of almost all of Kamelot’s songs. Roy Khan, singer for Kamelot, and guest singer Simone Simons of Epica contrast each other vocally in many songs; Khan provides the deep undertones, while Simons adds her passionate operatic voice. In songs like “House on a Hill” and the four-part “Poetry for the Poisoned,” Khan and Simons come together to bring out the melancholy rhythm characteristic of Kamelot.
The album starts off with Khan’s eerie voice and a gradual crescendo as Youngblood’s guitar riff flows from the speakers. A throwback to Kamelot’s progressive metal days, this song draws the listener in. Continue on through the album, and you will come across “Hunter’s Season,” another song reminiscent of Kamelot’s more acknowledged style. Much like the opener, this song starts with a fun guitar-drum groove and leads into Khan’s distinctive style of singing: bold in the verses, and eccentric in the choruses. Songs past this point, such as “Necropolis,” evoke the band’s more recent work with a darker, more metal element. This album ends powerfully with the “Poetry for the Poisoned” song cycle, finally drawing to a close with “Once Upon a Time.”
However, even an album as decidedly solid as “Poetry for the Poisoned” has its missteps. “Dear Editor,” representative of the “interludes” the band usually incorporates on each album, fails to blend into the album’s framework. Even after listening to the album multiple times, the songs “If Tomorrow Came,” “My Train of Thoughts” and “Seal of Woven Years” just wouldn’t stick. Although still musically excellent, the songs lacked memorability. This was a bit disappointing, considering the majority of this album was phenomenal.
Since “Ghost Opera” was released in 2007, the metal community was not expecting another great release to come out so soon afterwards, especially not one that could possibly stand up to its predecessor. “Poetry for the Poisoned” brought a lot to the table that is metal, and only leaves fans wanting more.
Rating: DIG IT!