First album without former CONCEPTION vocalist Roy Khan since the ’95 Eternity debut and while the Norwegian was considered by many one of the best in business, KAMELOT somehow never miss a beat, offering an uplifting album that throws off the doom and gloom of its Poetry For The Poisoned predecessor (undoubtedly shrouded in the uncertainty that was swirling within the band at the time). Thanks to founder/guitarist Thom Youngblood’s masterful compositions and a sterling performance from newcomer Tommy Karevik (SEVENTH WONDER). An aural pleasure throughout, the dozen tracks (‘Leaving Too Soon’ is a Japanese-only bonus and the expanded version, with instrumental renditions of the aforementioned twelve, adds ‘Grace’) the textures switch on a dime, one minute subtle, the next brash, acoustic or symphonic, then rocking out. The piano/orchestral ‘Manus Dei’ intro builds to a crescendo, before ending in a spoken word voiceover that segues directly into the robust ‘Sacrimony’ (Angel Of Afterlife)’, which also ends bizarrely, with the sound of children playing and a barely audible hum. Like the recently concluded tour, it features a pair of guest female singers: Elize Ryd (AMARANTHE) and guttural vocalizations from Alissa White-Gluz (THE AGONIST). The two reappear throughout the course of this concept album (relating to Jolee, who dies at the hands of her twin brothers and the ensuing cover-up by their well-to-do family), as does Amanda Sommerville, albeit as a part of a multi-voiced choir and a brief aria during the concluding ‘Continuum’.
‘Ashes To Ashes’ and ‘Torn’ would be considered Kamelot hallmarks, lively numbers with soaring vocals. ‘Song For Jolee’ is a piano and synthesized string begun ballad. Speaking of orchestral strings, violins (courtesy of the all-female ensemble EKLIPSE) introduce ‘Veritas’ which makes use of a dual-sexed backing choir, as well as a light, piano accompanied female vocal section (Ryd), before ending with accordion! The title track (with multiple female backing chorus) and speedy ‘Solitaire’ are built around Youngblood’s fretwork, the most fleet fingered moments on the disc. The latter being as close to The Fourth Legacy as they’ve come in recent memory. Tolling bells and church organ processional begin the massive (8:52), three part ‘Prodigal Son’, with part 1 (‘Funerale’) containing both a nearly a cappella falsetto and background all-male choir. The gruff tones of Canada’s own White-Gluz return, for the culminating ‘The Journey’ section. Almost completely instrumental, the ‘Continuum’ finale goes silent for 70 seconds, before returning with a meandering cello solo. A cohesive, enjoyable outing, all around.