With the precision of a clockwork the American/Norwegian quartet KAMELOT has been releasing its albums since 1995 now and in the course of the years has developed into one of the most original and best bands of the genre. The last album “Epica“ in 2003 had without a doubt been the most ambitious epos to date, as they took on the heavy stuff in form of Goethe’s “Faustus” to realise. And with “The Black Halo” they take up this theme once more and combine it with own experiences and views, which results in another very deep experience, which you can interpret in a myriad of ways, which just adds to the fascination of this album.
Putting the production into the trusted hands of Sascha Paeth and Miro once more, the band pitched their tents in German Wolfsburg again, where they could welcome several guests: DIMMU BORGIR’s Shagrath, STRATOVARIUS’ Jens Johansson, Simone Simons from EPICA, MASQUERAID’s Mari, and the KAMELOT choir, to form “The Black Halo” into an album that on the one hand builds on the solid foundation of the typical KAMELOT sound, on the other still further develops the band and successfully avoids it to stand still.
As said already, all the usual elements are still to be found, with the typical guitar melodies and double-bass attacks and, of course, Khan’s divine voice, but this time the compositions take on a darker hue, yet always remaining very dynamic and 100% KAMELOT.
Normally Power Metal bands in many cases set out with a fast-paced breaker, not KAMELOT on this album, because “March Of Mephisto” starts the CD off with a very epic soundtrack intro, which then turns into a very powerful, stomping song, which apart from Khan’s unique vocals also features the characteristic voice of DIMMU BORGIR’s Shagrath, a very unusual element in the band sound, but an almost perfect fit for the character of Mephisto.
Some of you might fear that the band has lowered the speed altogether, nope, “When The Lights Are Down“ puts the pedal to the metal right after, before “The Haunting (Somewhere In Time)“ is another absolute highlight, mid-paced, dramatic, dark, with huge melodies, this album promises to be a true killer! And KAMELOT won’t let off after that either, be it the dramatic up-tempo cracker “Soul Society“, the magnificent ballad „Abandoned“ or the nine-minute epos “Memento Mori”, all of them brilliant songs!
And the rest does not fall off either, even though the first and second listen might not necessarily underline this, but soon “The Black Halo“ unfolds its true greatness and shows that you can rely on this band. Not because they re-chew the same trusted formula, but challenging themselves to push their sound without betraying their sound. “The Black Halo“ without a doubt is the most varied album of the KAMELOT history, is it the best? I would say yes, even though “The Fourth Legacy” has the better rating, but that was six years ago… (Online March 1, 2005)