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Kamelot - The Black Halo CD (album) cover




Progressive Metal

4.09 | 309 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars I'm not exactly what you would call a fan of Power metal, whether its prog or not. I found it has a tendency to be overly cheesy and hung up over the clichéd dungeons and dragons, sword and sorcery that many people find annoying. However, The Black Halo is both heavily prog influenced power metal that doesn't get stuck singing about dragons and ends up with a very catchy album that doesn't have a hint of cheese in it anywhere, thank God!

The music is based on creating powerful, catchy riffs and this is something that is prevalent throughout the album, but this doesn't mean that the album has a homogenous sound. Many of the songs are built up, usually starting from simple guitar lines or from keyboard passages that develop into a powerful crescendo, and usually in the space of 4-5 minutes. In fact the large range of diversity between the songs is far greater than I would have expected, from the largely keyboard and sample based Abandoned to the crushing songs of March Of Mephisto and The Haunting (Somewhere in Time) to the slower and haunting Moonlight and Serenade and finally the "epic" of the album, Memento Mori that builds exquisitely over its eight minutes.

The instrumentation in this album is very good as well, based largely on creating, and regularly expanding on, melodies with appropriate, but short, solo sections. Some songs do seem to get repetitive as not all fully develop from where they start but as many of the songs are rather short it doesn't really bother me. The keyboards prove to be a really good back up on this album really helping to diversify the music and sometimes being the catalyst to get the music to move on and develop into something else, as well as creating extra layers of textures to fill the music and give it depth. Roy Khan does stand out, though, as a stunning singer. His voice perfectly compliments the music whatever its doing, and to a better degree than many other singers that I have heard. He is a theatrical singer, a you would expect from this kind of music, but he never uses that aspect of his performance to overshadow the music. He is quite possibly one of the best vocal talents of the time. The guest vocalists do a great job on here as well, with Shagrath (!?) providing suitably demonic growls for the character of Mephisto and Epica's Simone Simmons giving a brilliant turn at Margarite on The Haunting (Somewhere in Time).

Overall, I'll give the album 4 stars. A lot of the music does progress from where it starts, going through a range of emotions and textures, but not always. There are a few songs on here that are simply not progressive, even if they are quite good. As a side note, on the special edition digi pack version, the two bonus songs are rather pointless, being just radio edits of March Of Mephisto and The Haunting (Somewhere In Time), though the packaging is nice. Speaking of which, I really do like the artwork used here, its very dark and expressive of the album as a whole, amongst my favourites.

sleeper | 4/5 |


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