Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Album Review: Kamelot - The Shadow Theory

There's a point for all successful bands where they have to decide what kind of future they are going to have; will they be a band always pushing forward to find new fans, or will they be one delivering to the faithful. Neither one is a right choice, or a wrong choice, but merely different options for how to proceed. Great bands have taken both courses and remained great, so there is no implication on my part attached to either. Kamelot is firmly in the latter category, having established a sound and style, and done nothing to deviate from it. On their third outing with Tommy Karevic behind the mic, they keep on keeping on.

For Kamelot fans, that will be music to their ears, literally. Kamelot are very good at what they do, and after so many albums, their fans are more than happy with more traditional Kamelot material. For those of us who aren't devoted to their cause, the prospect of another album that doesn't alter their trajectory is a bit of a mixed bag. I've listened to every album as they have come out since "Ghost Opera", and with each one the same thing happens. I hear an album that delivers compelling, involved modern power metal with fantastic vocals... and then I tend to push them to the back burner until the next album comes along.

Their biggest selling point continues to be Tommy Karevic, who is a remarkable singer. The only downside to having him in the band is that he shines so much in his other band, Seventh Wonder, that I always feel like he could do even more in Kamelot.

Turning our attention back to this album, "The Shadow Theory" is another fine outing from Kamelot. If you've already heard "RavenLight", you know what you're going to be getting here. Kamelot's music is slightly gothic, highly dramatic, and a beautifully melodic take on the modern and heavy strain of power metal. Tommy delivers amazing vocals, and the music behind him gives a palate of colors to paint with, even if they are all dark. A song like "Burns To Embrace" is something a bit new for the band, mixing the down-tuned guitars with folk strings to create a song that weaves through several moods over the course of six minutes, anchored as always by melody.

Sure, there's a ballad "In Twilight Hours" that could use a bit more power, and "Kevlar Skin" isn't their sharpest work, but the majority of the album is top-notch Kamelot material. I might be imagining things, but I think I hear more of Tommy's influence coming through in the melodies, which does help to make this sound a hair different than the past. Kamelot always sounds like Kamelot, but this time they don't sound like they are repeating themselves.

So what do we make of "The Shadow Theory"? It's naturally a hit for any and all fans of Kamelot, and this time around I can extend the umbrella further. This album feels fresher than the last couple of Kamelot albums, and does a better job of moving the band forward. "The Shadow Theory" is a very good album, and it's one that I imagine anyone who like melodic or power metal will be quite happy with.

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