“Haven”, Review of Kamelot’s 2015 Album


Artwork of Kamelot's Haven

Artwork of Kamelot’s Haven

Kamelot, a band that has forged together many forms of Metal into haunting, beautiful, and masterful melodic music is back in 2015 with a spectacular new album.  After Roy Khan had to depart from the band so sadly, theatrical power vocalist Tommy Karevik to step in.  Luckily, Kaverik was very fit for the job.  The band recorded their first album with Kaverik in 2012.  “Silverthorn” was a departure from older albums and lacked the dramatics and emotion older albums contained.  It was a bold move to change it up, certainly the guests Elize Ryd and Alissa White-Gluz helped modernize Kamelot.  It was the first album with a new vocalist, so it was really different as the band settled in.  Now, the band has found synchronicity with a new album in all its glory, “Haven”.


“Haven” is everything great you can expect from Kamelot; Symphonic and Neoclassical themes, dramatic theatrical vocals, an interesting theme, and amazingly talented guests.  Thomas Youngblood, Kamelot guitarist and mastermind, said “Haven” was going back to Kamelot’s emotional roots.  I loved this idea, because it keeps the band authentic even with a more modern sound.  The band going back to their roots ensured a good album was ahead.  However, “Haven” completely obliterated all expectations.  This album from start to finish is just insanely epic and so addictive.  I say addictive because of the catchy riffs, melodies, and spot on theatrically performed vocals.  They nailed this album to a cross, burnt it, then turned it into a beautiful and ornate glass vase.  Every song is just spot on with everything I want and expect from this band and so much more.


The album opens with heavy and smoothly flowing track Fallen Star, tight, rhythmic, and powerful in such a glorious way.  The tone in Tommy’s voice has grown exponentially, already clear from the first track.  One of the best songs on this album is no doubt Insomnia, melodic and creepy and filled with desperation.  Citizen Zero follows the Sci-fi themed album perfectly with well versed lyrics.  Not my favorite track, but it has a good rhythm to it and incorporates more Symphonic elements.  Tommy also shows some higher range and also lower range which I really enjoy.  Veil of Elysium is a track that just will not get out of my head.  Between the dramatic orchestral and synth, guitar riffs and beginning solo, and a vocal line delivered with ease.  I absolutely love the story on this song and every piece of instrumentation.  Next, is where we get to hear a brand new guest for Kamelot rip the shreds out of a romantic and saddened power ballad.  Charlotte Wessels of Delain provides the beautiful and understated vocals on Under Grey Skies.  Her and Tommy’s vocals are revolutionary together.  This song sounds like an old love tale between forbidden lovers, forged long before anything to do with Sci-Fi. It also features Troy Donockley and his excellent folk influences with pipes.  Kamelot and guests created something magnificent with this track.  This is easily one of the best songs of 2015.


The album continues to rage on with heavier and creepy track My Therapy, softened interlude Ecclesia, and Symphonic jam End of Innocence.  You can hear Charlotte’s excellent and gorgeous backing vocals throughout a lot of tracks.  Beautiful Apocalypse is another epic track of the album and it contains a lot of things I wanted on this album.  The level of heaviness is all over the place, keeping the album from becoming stale or monotonous.  Also the tone of Beautiful Apocalypse sounds more Gothic than any other track on the album and the vocals are spot on.  Liar Liar (Wasteland Monarchy) features the growls and clean vocals of maiden Alissa White-Gluz, who absolutely shreds this song and also Revolution.   These tracks are heavy, some of the heaviest music I’ve heard from Kamelot.  I love both of these tracks, because they utilize every part of the band and two guest vocalists in many ways.  It’s like a really exquisite dish done two ways, but they somehow go together in one bite.  I also love the use of Charlotte’s range throughout these tracks, yet to be wholly discovered, as well as Tommy’s range.


This review is just a simple overview of what “Haven” has to offer.  In simple words, it is a fantastically diverse and immensely well done Symphonic Metal album.   It is an essential album for anyone who enjoys great Metal Music and I do not see how anyone could dislike it as a whole.  I have a feeling that this is just the beginning of what Thomas, Tommy, and everyone involved with Kamelot has to show us.


Album Rating: 10/10- Musical Perfection

Nightwish/Sabaton/Delain At The Ogden Theater Concert Review

A minagary of devoted fans line the block of The Ogden Theater in the stunning and full city of Denver, Colorado.  Some fans sporting Nightwish shirts, others with Sabaton shirts, and even a handful with Delain shirts, all here for one thing; A fantastic Metal show.  The line was endless, fitting the title for the tour no doubt as it wrapped around the building.  The amount of fans showing up for a Symphonic Metal show in my home state made me proud.  The fact that so many fans were willing to put up with an undersized and terribly set up venue was a surprise to me.  However, no Metal fan in their right mind could pass up a lineup like this and the chance to experience Floor Jansen at the beginning of her prime.  Clearly, the fans who will forever be butt hurt over Tarja stayed home sadly.  The real Metal fans showed up that night.  All those fans were treated to one of best Metal shows the Mile High City has ever seen.


As a huge Delain fan (as you probably know if you follow this blog) I was ecstatic about seeing this band for the second time in 6 months.  The first time I saw them, I was mesmerized beyond anything I had experienced before.  This time, Delain only had 30 minutes to mesmerize the crowd and hook them with power and energy.  Were they as successful with a shorter set?  Not surprisingly, yes, Delain successfully pulled the crowd in with a blazingly fast set.  Even with the sound problems, shortened set, Delain were the most entertaining band of the night.  Front woman Charlotte Wessels has the incredible ability to keep eye contact with everyone in the venue at once.  Her stage presence is strong, but inviting and so exciting.  The band altogether is tight, technical, and eye catching.  They opened with the heavy and dark Mother Machine, to crowd favorites like Get The Devil Out of Me, Stardust, Not Enough, and Army of Dolls.  The crowd also got the incredible honor of Marco Hietala of Nightwish coming out for the first time on this tour for The Gathering.  The crowd exploded with cheers and screams, finally matching the noise and excitement that Delain deserves.  It was an experience I will never forget.


Sabaton, the legendary Power Metal band, joined this tour later in the announcements (Much to Delain fans’ chagrin) and are another crowd favorite with a fairly large following in the states.  Sabaton always put on a energetic, educational, and flawless show.  At The Ogden Theater, they played favorites like Ghost Division, Gott Mit Uns, Carolus Rex, and Primo Victoria.  That night, Sabaton were explosive and highly entertaining as they should be for the entirety of the tour, but not as good as they were on last year’s tour.  When I saw them in Denver in 2014 with Iced Earth and Revamp, the band was nonstop pounding Power Metal for at least an hour.  This 2015 Sabaton set wasn’t as tight and fluid as that particular show.  It seemed like the band was trying to impress  to hard with clearly rehearsed antics and an unnecessary comedy act.  Although Sabaton showed immense personality and had Joakim playing guitar at one point, it was a let down compared to Delain’s nonstop and fluid set.  I love Sabaton and all their music and lyrical content, but this set was disappointing.  The fans paid for a Metal show, not a variety show featuring two great Symphonic Metal bands.  Also, Sabaton’s music lacks diversity in a live setting.  My point with this critique is that Sabaton did not fit on this tour, at all.  The opening band put on a better show than the co-headliner, in my opinion.

Pioneers of Symphonic Metal, Nightwish, are known for their enchanting and powerful shows with limited added production.  They are a no frills dynamic live band with immense musicality, so my expectations were high for their show.  This was sadly my first time seeing Nightwish, making the show even more important than normal.  The last time Nightwish played at The Ogden Theater, they had no lead vocalist and the show was not up to the band’s standards.  This show was not only important to the fans, but to every member of Nightwish.  They had a lot to prove with this show, and they vastly succeeded with the quality.  The setlist was perfectly crafted to ebb and flow seamlessly besides lovely gratuitous words from Floor and Marco.  As a very first Nightwish show, you learn so much about the band through small interactions and passion filled musicianship.  Every song was epic.  Every song was beautiful and powerful.  It was almost like watching a beautiful film constructed by James Cameron, but with one hell of a soundtrack.


Nightwish flawlessly performed new songs like Elan, Endless Forms Most Beautiful, Weak Fantasy, Yours Is An Empty Hope, opening with Shudder Before the Beautiful, and epic The Greatest Show on Earth.  Floor was vastly impressive on these new songs, showing perfect melodies and effortlessly controlled power.  Emppu also impressed me with his laser accurate guitar solos showing immense speed.  Also, you do not realize how amazing of a pianist and keyboardist Tuomas is until watching his effervescent live performance.  Marco’s vocals were absolutely spot on as Floor is able to harmonize better than any other Nightwish vocalist.  Obviously Troy’s use of many different folk instruments added a new genuine layer to the show.  The sound of Nightwish live sounds so much more authentic with Troy and Floor added to the mix.


The stage set up was perfect, with two large statues holding a keyboard and microphone and a unique stump made for Troy’s seat.  It was unlike any setup I had seen before.  It was very easy to see the front four members of the band.  However, the lighting at The Ogden Theater was not apt for such a large show.  I feel like drummer, KaI Hahto, was under lighted and hard to see at this particular venue.  His drumset was mammoth and included an interesting green glowing symbol.  Their effects and show design made it even more mesmerizing, but didn’t overshadow the explosive music.  The stage presence from each member was unique and intense, but appreciative and inviting.  In this small venue, it was fairly easy connect with each member.  I am very thankful for the small venue for this, even though it was very crammed and hard to get comfortable.


Nightwish also played crowd pleasing classics like Amaranth, She is My Sin, the beautiful The Islander, Ever Dream, I Want My Tears Back.  Most notably at this show, Floor’s rendition of older songs were absolutely mind blowing with power.  Floor meets a level of vocal perfection on Ever Dream, also pulling out Stargazers to prove her operatic prowess.  One of the greatest songs I have ever seen live is Ghost Love Score, however.  Her passion, technique, power, vulnerability, and vocal endurance on this track is legendary.  There are few singers that can perform at this level, but Floor even exceeds them after this performance.  People who underappreciated and doubt this vocalist’s talent shall be silenced after this tour setlist is immortalized on a new DVD.  Nightwish will remain the top pillar of Symphonic Metal, regardless of those who cannot accept Floor’s vocal style over the immense talent of this band.


To sum up this show, it’s one of the shows closest to perfection that I have ever seen in person.  I do recommend seeing all three bands, just not at The Ogden Theater.  The promoters seem to have vastly oversold this poorly setup and small venue.  It was great to be so close to the bands without being in the pit, just not great being so close to other fans packed tight.  It was the best show in the worst venue.  I can say it would take a lineup even better than this to get me to come back to this venue.  Instead, I suggest The Fillmore Auditorium, The Bluebird Theater, and Summit Music Hall.


Concert Rating: 9/10- Must See Tour




Endless Forms Most Beautiful, The Seemingly Endless Review



In the enchanting forests of the dark and mysterious Finnish countryside, the greatest Symphonic Metal of all time forged a brand new album with a new enchanted front woman.  The epic soundtrack composer that is Tuomas Holopainen breathed new life into a classic and legendary band, bringing in immensely talented Floor Jansen as the new lady at the helm.  Tuomas is known for mixing Classical themes into modern Metal with legendary bassist and vocalist Marco Hietala and epic shredder Emppu Vuorinen.  The writing that goes into Nightwish albums is some of the best, like with “Once” and “Dark Passion Play”.  They write epics like no other band in the world.  Nightwish have this very distinct sound that definitely sounds masterfully crafted over the years, some might argue that sound is gone with Tarja.  This album dares to say differently.  The Finnish Symphonic Metal Band is back in 2015 with new and old sounds.


“Endless Forms Most Beautiful” is possibly the most anticipated album of the year, as it is an album with a brand new vocalist in an absolutely classic band.  The feelings about Floor Jansen, ex After Forever and current Revamp vocalist, are certainly mixed when it comes to Nightwish.  Whether people agree with her being at the helm of this band, Nightwish will do what is best for the band and the fans who will be with them to the end.  I believe the new album is enough proof that Nightwish is still the same old excellent band.  Yes, the vocals are a bit different, but the power and passion and tone of Floor fit seamlessly into the music of Tuomas and Marco.  “Endless Forms Most Beautiful” is only the beginning of what Floor and company has to offer.


“Endless Forms Most Beautiful” begins with a pounding jam with honest lyrics that kick off an emotional album from start to finish Shudder Before the Beautiful.  The vocals come out solid but so smooth and then building.  The instrumentation is electric and full with an orchestra bringing the whole jam to a new level.  Weak Fantasy is even heavier than the opener, discounting the rumours of a completely softened album with excellent harmonies from Floor and Marco.  The intensity is calmed with the beautiful and moving Elan with intricate mature melodies that is similar to Ever Dream and Amaranth’s build up.  This is a very moving track and is certainly meant to be a song you’d cherish and take from.  Yours is an Empty Hope, man this track is one of the heaviest I have heard from Nightwish yet.  It’s angry and grungy, filled with gritty vocals and deepened growls.  This song shows Floor’s more intimidating side and her ability to dramaticize a song into something more intense and epic.  My Walden is one of the most beautiful tracks on the album.  It’s complex with Celtic influences and absolutely incredible vocals.  The vulnerability of the track is what makes it so great.


The title track is even more complex with orchestral work all throughout and a choir ringing into the chorus.  Floor’s vocals are accurately jabbing in the pocket with differentiated volumes, ringing along with Marco’s perfect harmonizing.  The song opens up into a heavy full jam band with exquisite guitar work from Emppu.  Definitely some of the most unique riffing on this album is in this track.  Edema Ruh has a more Traditional Metal themes in a ballad-esque form.  The song is slower and contains well placed harmonies, transcending melodies to a foreign land.  It sounds like a folk song straight out of Finland with a Metal theme.  It’s absolutely brilliant.  “Endless Forms Most Beautiful” continues to mesmerize with ebbing and flowing with epicness and softness.  This is not the strongest track on the album and doesn’t contain the power or beauty the rest of the album.  The Eyes of Sharabat Gula is just a gorgeous interlude that breaks up the intensity of the album and forces you to fully enjoy every intermittent note.  It is truly a beautiful track.  However, the next track on the album is even more beautiful and as meaningful as any track on the album.


There are not enough words to truly describe the essence or the beauty of The Greatest Show on Earth.  In Classical Music, every composer has their epic masterpiece, dawning the highlight of their periodical reign.  The Greatest Show on Earth is Nightwish’s greatest masterpiece.  The diversity of styles, building from slow beautiful operatic into powerful grungy dark vocals and heavy instrumentation.  The brilliance of Tuomas comes out so outright in this final track as he covers millions of years of evolution in a 23 minute track.  The track even covers a musical evolution on the 13th minute.  I have never heard a more meaningful track than this one, as it includes the words of Richard Dawkins.  After the evolution of the track, it develops into a begging and merciful chorus crying out “We were here”, after that it silences and ebbs into an outro.  It leaves you in an entire new intellectual state of mind, full of emotion and ambition.  This isn’t just a track you enjoy, it is a track to survive to.


“Endless Forms Most Beautiful” is an album that is so beautiful and rare in its impact, I don’t think another album like it will ever come again.  Yes, not every track was all out and hammers forward, but the ballads are even better than the heavy tracks in this album.  Floor Jansen is absolutely stunning on this album.  Her vocal technique and prowess, but also passion are evolved and matured.  Tuomas brought even more flavors and approaches to her voice that accurately prove she is perfect for this band.  This album will bring Nightwish to new heights as they reinvent themselves and stun the masses with perfect composition.


Album Rating 10/10


Endless Forms Most Beautiful is currently #34 on the Billboard 200 Chart