Album Review: Kamelot – The Awakening

Album Review: Kamelot - The Awakening
Reviewed by Dan Barnes

I would never claim to be any sort of aficionado of the Power Metal arts but I likes what I likes and Kamelot – along with Helloween and Brainstorm – are enough to make me park my Punk and Grind credentials, even if it’s just for a brief time. I’ve been a fan of Kamelot since their performance down at Prog Power II back in 2007 and, when the mood takes me, will slap on the One Cold Winter’s Night DVD to get a fix.

It’s been five long years since we last got a new Kamelot album, in the shape of 2018’s The Shadow Theory, making the gap between it and The Awakening – Kamelot’s thirteenth studio release - the longest period between albums in the band’s history.

With The Awakening Kamelot are giving the fans exactly what they want: a full-bloodied symphonic metal record awash with all the bells and whistles associated with the Flordians.

As if to reinforce the grandiose nature of the release, the first track is Overture, an abstract run through the theme of motifs about to unfold across the following thirteen tracks. The Great Divide begins The Awakening proper, with the huge, brazen orchestral bombast one comes to expect from this band.

Solid riffs, embellished by keyboard flourished, all while supported on a rock steady rhythm section sets the tone for the bulk of the album. Eventide shows Kamelot aren’t afraid to pay fan-service to their long-time listeners, giving them exactly what they came for; The Looking Glass harkens back to The Black Halo’s The Haunting, while One Flag in the Ground has the kinds of hooks most would kill for, delivering an anthemic crowd favourite in the making.

Album Review: Kamelot - The Awakening

The band could very easily write another dozen formulaic fan-pleasers, slap a label on it and tootle back off on tour; but it is to Kamelot’s credit that they have, again, produced a far more varied and textured collection, still within the milieu of their trademark sound, but just different enough to keep it all interesting for everyone involved.

Opus of the Night (Ghost Requiem) sees cellist, Tino Guo, go head-to-head with Thomas Youngblood to see who would be crowned king or queen of the solo. Operatic in it’s construction, the rise and fall evokes emotion as the choral insertions offer a vast listening experience.

Midsummer’s Eve and Willow see the band eschewing the modern in favour of a more traditional sound. The former is filled with Celtic influences, conjuring images of times long past, whereas the latter features sweeping orchestration and a tour-de-force vocal performance.

On the other end of the spectrum, both Bloodmoon and My Pantheon (Forevermore) contain some of The Awakening’s more savage moments and rawest vocal performances.

My personal highlight of the album is New Babylon, a syth-laden epic featuring a guest spot from Ad Infinitum’s Melissa Bonny, who exchanges vocal chops with Tommy Kerevik across a hugely bombastic journey.

Needless to say the musicianship from all is exemplary and Karevik’s voice, now on his fourth outing with the band, is a perfect fit. Production is crisp and clean, letting you hear all of those bells and whistles included for you delectation.

The sound of Power Metal always takes me back to the Assembly Rooms in Derby for those indoor Bloodstock shows and, although Kamelot never played that venue, The Awakening sent me straight back to those by-gone days. Good times.

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