The Awakening: A Bold Return Album from Kamelot!

It’s rare seeing an American power metal band. Tampa isn’t the sort of place you’d associate with the epic norse/medieval feel of the genre. However, Kamelot have been towards the top of the pack in the genre for decades. Having released their 13th album on Friday, we’ve had this for a few days and have definitely had it cranked out loud throughout the office. Check out what we thought!

After a brief orchestral intro track the album explodes into power metal life with a huge riff to open ‘The Great Divide’. It’s a huge sound and riff but it eases off a little for the verses. It was a good touch as the orchestral elements filled out the sound perfect. It builds to a huge chorus, catchy melodies from just about every instrument and vocal going on throughout it. We get an amazing guitar solo after the second chorus. My only issue is that it was too short, I’d have happily had it run twice as long. Then a huge double chorus takes us home. This was a good track and a perfect album opener for fans not as familiar with the band. It was a standard structure and formula and set the stage well.

‘Eventide’ is more of the same, a heavy riff packed full of great strings and bass drum work. Soaring vocals through the choruses and another great guitar solo are more highlights of the track. Meanwhile ‘One more Flag in the Ground’ opens on an almost Egyptian feel with the guitar chord progression and vocals. The vocal runs through the intro riff also reminded me a little of Iron Maiden’s more recent work. The verse also reminds me a bit of some of Dream Theater’s heavier stuff, it had big ‘Panic Attack’ vibes. The chorus is catchy and the lyrics were pretty fun and uplifting. The heavier bridge was also a lot of fun, a highlight of the track, as was the insane outro solo. It’s an amazing song and easily makes our playlist!

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The longest track on the album, ‘Opus of the Night Ghost’, teases a slower open before immediately slapping the listener with another heavy, similar-tempoed riff. The Dream Theater vibes are back, but the vocal melody throughout felt pretty Muse-y; the high notes were impressive. It dropping down to the orchestral elements and drums for the bridge was fun, building back up through a fantastic violin and guitar solo. The slower, piano led outro was nice, too.

Said outro lead very nicely into the slower, very medieval sounding intro to ‘Midsummer’s Eve’. It was nice to hear a bit of variety as Tommy Karevik sounds amazing over the top of the beautiful piano and strings. It stays as a simple, beautiful ballad throughout too, which was a great choice, especially for around the midpoint of the album. It’s the perfect, emotional slower track for a power metal band. Great stuff.

The pace picks back up with ‘Bloodmoon’, but the acoustic guitar and strings to open was a nice, fresh touch. It’s a catchy song and one of my favourite on the album. However, much like ‘NightSky’, ‘The Looking Glass’ and ‘New Babylon’, it’s simply straight up, slightly-formulaic power metal. There’s nothing wrong with that, with the latter track being awesome and a massive highlight of the album. It’s simply hard to write about a lot of similar songs.

‘Willow’ is another beautiful piano led ballad. The vocals again fit so well over the piano, giving off big Matt Bellemy vibes. The strings added so much depth and beauty to the track too, complimenting everything perfectly. The rest of the band coming in from the second chorus was a fantastic choice too, the heaviness coming in but not overpowering the emotion. Heck, even the solo complimented it, feeling very Slash. It’s another great track.

The final full track on the album, ‘My Pantheon’, feels like a real culmination of everything that’s come before it. A slow piano intro, a huge, heavy riff, plenty of symphonic and string elements, it draws everything together perfectly. It’s also one of the best, catchiest choruses on the album. Plus, the harsh vocals in the bridge were amazing, and I wish we’d got them more throughout the album. Then we get taken home by a beautiful orchestral outro track, ‘Ephemera’.

Overall: This was pretty great. While it didn’t necessarily reinvent the wheel, it was a fun, very well written power/symphonic metal album. There are a number of standout tracks, from heavy anthems to ballads, and there isn’t a bad song among them! I’ll definitely be listening to this album a fair bit over the coming months.

The Score: 7.5/10