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Kamelot – I Am The Empire (Live from the 013) Award winner

Kamelot
I Am The Empire (Live from the 013)
by Jean-François ''Jackal'' Poulin at 14 September 2020, 11:09 AM

KAMELOT is a Progressive Power Metal Band from Tampa, Florida. This is a live album in Tilburg, Netherlands. A lot of bands have done some live albums in this very venue and the sound is always great. I heard an ALESTORM live show on YouTube in the beginning of the pandemic and the sound was great. KAMELOT also delivers a great performance in the same venue and it seems to be the place to be.

Safe to say that I have never been a fan of the band KAMELOT. I think my brother was a fan back in the 90’s and I was not impressed at all. The singer Roy Khan was not doing it for me and I just couldn’t wrap my head around the music. There are some instances of bands that are widely acclaimed and loved that I just can’t connect with for some reason or another. KAMELOT, ICED EARTH, DEMONS AND WIZARDS are among these bands. I know a lot of you guys out there love these bands but I was never able to love them. It’s not a good thing to try to force yourself in loving a band, that’s not the way to do it obviously.

I have heard about Tommy Karevik and his work in SEVENTH WONDER for a few years now and he has been the lead singer since 2012 for KAMELOT. He has done some majestic work on the upcoming AYREON album and that’s where I really discovered a unique talent. That’s why I decided to review this live album persay. For people that don’t know much about the band, the live album takes it’s name from the lyrics of ‘’Phantom Divine (Shadow Empire)’’.

They have a few special guests on this album including EKLYPSE, for people that don’t know who they are, well it’s three violinists and a celloist. They add a very orchestral arrangement to the song ‘’My Confession’’, imagine a female version of APOCALYPTICA. It’s deep rich sounds just add this layer of power and emotion to a very good initial version. It makes this song even greater, well orchestras don’t always work well but these 4 really added something special.

Tommy Karevik seems to be a very passionate and charismatic frontman. All throughout the interludes, he is having fun with the crowd (including the Swedish Volume Tab speech just before ‘’Veil of Elysium’’) and his vocal performance is on point, as good or even better than on CD which is absolutely rare enough as it is. The genre itself really is to be lived in person, yes you can have a good experience on CD but experiencing it live, is another feeling altogether. The live album is able to transcend the energy and passion and deliver it to the listener out there. Sascha Paeth from AVANTASIA produced and mixed the album and he did a masterful job on it like he does with his band. He puts the time, love and effort in making the best production and he can do, nothing is left to randomness. This album sounds absolutely great.

Like I said beforehand I don’t know much about the material itself, I know a lot of songs are from the Tommy Karevik period of the band and just a handful from the Roy Khan era. I don’t think they want to forget that period but I was glad they concentrated on the last few albums, with the better singer in my honest opinion. ‘’Under Grey Skies’’ with Charlotte Wessels from DELAIN gave me literal goosebumps, such a great ballad and as much as I am not a fan of that band, she has such a soothing voice with emotion rarely seen or heard. The duo between her and Tommy is beautiful and powerful. It’s an enjoyable change of pace being at almost the midway of this album, it was a nice touch.

They played ‘’End of Innocence’’ on this tour, which was something they never did when they toured Europe beforehand. He tells the crowd that’s a gift to them for being such a loyal fan base and it’s one hell of a song. The crowd is really into it and they sing the chorus with the band and it’s a beautiful sight and it gave goosebumps again. It’s from the ‘’Haven’’ album and I think I will definitely revisit the back catalog whenever I have the chance. ‘’March of Mephisto’’ is a real crowd pleaser with the presence of Alyssa White-Gluz from ARCH ENEMY doing some backing vocals. She adds her unique growls and it’s a nice contrast with the voice of Tommy Karevik. It’s a yin and yang effect to say the least and she is one of the best to do the growls right now so it was a nice surprise to have her on this live album.

My favorite song of the album is by far ‘’Phantom Divine (Shadow Empire)’’. Such a powerful song and that duo from Lauren Hart from ONCEHUMAN is awesome. This is the way to start off an album and I immediately want to listen to the last album KAMELOT did back in 2018. This got me hooked and I became a fan of the Tommy Karevik-era KAMELOT. I really want to revisit the back albums and maybe the SEVENTH WONDER album at the same time. The guy can sing and from what I have heard from the upcoming AYREON album, he sounds fantastic.

The other song that really came alive even more on this show is ‘’Sacrimony (Angel of Afterlife)’’. You have the presence of two very unique female vocalists, Elize Ryd from AMARANTHE and Alyssa White-Gluz is back with her growls. It’s a real contrast between the angelic voice of the magnificent Elize and the grows of the beast that is known as Alyssa White-Gluz. Yet nonetheless, Alyssa shows another side of her voice, almost operatic at times and it’s something I didn’t know she could do.  The trio just blows it out of the water and it’s a rather powerful hymn, the highpoint of the album for me.

I also really enjoyed ‘’Liar Liar (Wasteland Monarchy)’’. It’s a great energetic way to finish off the show and it’s one hell of a song. Alyssa is at it again and delivers once again, such powerful voice, you wouldn’t know it when you first see her that’s for sure. She crushes it and owns this song, no disrespect to the rest of the album but she really makes this song her own. You want to finish a show with something that will pump up the blood and make your adrenaline go to 11. Well that’s the way to end a live album!

One of the very best Live albums I have heard in the least two decades, it’s something that I will cherish in a year of depression and heartache. The pandemic hasn’t been easy on us but it’s the type of album that soothes the soul and makes you forget for about 1h45 the rest of your problems. It washes away a bit of your sadness and replaces with the pure energy. An incredible effort and performance by KAMELOT.

Songwriting: 10
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 10
Production: 10

5 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Transcendence
2. Phantom Divine (Shadow Empire)
3. Rule the World
4. Insomnia
5. The Great Pandemonium
6. When the Lights are Down
7. My Confession
8. Veil of Elysium
9. Under Grey Skies
10. Ravenlight
11. End of Innocence
12. March of Mephisto
13. Amnesiac
14. Manus Dei
15. Sacrimony (Angel of Afterlife)
16. Drums and Keys Solo
17. Here’s to the Fall
18. Forever
19. Burns to Embrace
20. Liar Liar (Wasteland Monarchy)
21. Ministrium (Shadow Key)
Lineup:
Tommy Karevik – Vocals
Thomas Youngblood – Guitars
Alex Landenburg – Drums
Oliver Palotai – Keyboards and Orchestrations
Sean Tibbetts – Bass
Record Label: Napalm Records
     


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Edited 01 October 2020
 

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