Review by Paddy Gallagher for MPM
5 years have passed since Kamelot took us on an orchestral, bombastic journey with their previous studio release, “The Shadow Theory” in 2018.
No doubt the global pause brought about by Covid19 increased the gap between release dates however the added time was put to good use during the creative process for “The Awakening”, the 13th studio release from a band who theatrically tell their tales in a way reminiscent of a night at a Broadway show. It paid dividends resulting this excellent symphonic journey through a musical landscape only Kamelot can create.
This release was recorded this in 5 different studios, not unusual for a band spread over several countries in Europe and the US and features the Kamelot studio debut of Alex Landenburg on Drums who puts in a stellar performance, the Rhythm Section completed by Sean Tibbets on Bass who along with Thomas Youngblood on Guitar are original members from the band’s inception in 1991, although Sean left for a period of 17 years returning to the fold in 2009.
Oliver Palotai’s Keyboard and Orchestration prowess is essential to the band as is the vocal talents of Tommy Karevik who really puts in a fine performance here. Not unusual for Tommy as his work in Seventh Wonder will testify, but he puts in a performance here nailing a claim to the mast for Vocalist of the year
Their compositions can be described as cinematic, symphonic, dark and when combined with Tommy’s “Phantom of the Opera” style of delivery, we are taken on a dramatic journey of unadulterated excellence. The metaphorical lights dim, and the curtain rises in the Broadway Theatre of my mind as “Overture – Intro” pulses through the speakers gradually increasing in volume and intensity with the orchestration, the last few notes subtly previewing the melody of “The Great Divide”; a classic Kamelot piece of music, big chorus, pounding drums, the orchestrated melodies to the fore, which when followed by “Eventide” in its wistful farewell to a companion, provides a pounding 1-2 start to the album.
The first release in advance of the album, “One More Flag In The Ground” provides the listener with a pep talk to overcome the challenges we face, physically and mentally, in today’s world. This leads us to “Opus of the Night (Ghost Requiem)” with a Broadway like chorus that has Tommy Karevik imploring “Rise to the Queen of the Symphony” and a dual solo between Thomas Youngblood’s guitar and guest Tina Guo’s cello.
“Midsummer’s Eve” starts with the soothing violin of guest Florian Janoske which continues through the song accompanied by Tina Guo’s cello, Oliver Palotai’s Keys and Tommy’s voice and takes us on a Symphonic Celtic stroll through a forest.
In typical Kamelot fashion we have “New Babylon” containing male and female vocals playing off each other, plus some guttural input. Ad Infinitum’s Melissa Bonny submitting a fine performance in a song about societal divisions. And what about the hopeful optimism of “Willow” for a refined balladlike piece of music, the soft piano along with Tommy’s voice leading to a crescendo of lead guitar from Thomas Youngblood.
With the afore mentioned “Overture – Intro” and the orchestral strains of “Ephemera – Outro” providing the traditional Kamelot bookends to the oeuvre, when the play through is finished there is a feeling that tonight’s performance is over, and it is time to head out into the streets of the midtown Manhattan in my head, swirling snippets of what has gone before echo along with the sounds of the night and suddenly, the realisation that I’m not making my way home from a Broadway show, but I can reach out and start the CD all over again, and I do, this time through the Bose NC headphones…..the world can wait another 53 minutes.
Another early runner in the Album of the Year list? You bet!!
The Awakening tracklisting:
1. Overture (Intro)
2. The Great Divide
4. One More Flag in the Ground
5. Opus of the Night (Ghost Requiem)
6. Midsummer’s Eve
9. The Looking Glass
10. New Babylon
12. My Pantheon (Forevermore)
13. Ephemera (Outro)
The Awakeningwill be available in the following formats:
–CD Digipak + Shirt Bundle – Napalm Records exclusive
–2-LP Gatefold Vinyl Black
–2-LP Gatefold Vinyl in Splatter Red + Black – Napalm Records exclusive (European webstore), limited to 500
–2-LP Gatefold in Marbled White + Black – Napalm Records exclusive (North American webstore), limited to 300
–48p Earbook with 7” Vinyl Single – Napalm Records exclusive, limited to 500
–Wooden Boxset with Envelope Opener, Flag, Patch and Band Postcard – Napalm Records exclusive, limited to 1000
–Music Cassette – Napalm Records exclusive, limited to 100
KAMELOT will tour the world in support of The Awakening! See below for their upcoming European Awaken The World Tour dates.
KAMELOT Awaken The World Tour Europe – Part 1:
w/ special guests Myrath, Eleine, League of Distortion
Mar 17, 2023 – Cologne, DE / Essigfabrik
Mar 18, 2023 – Den Bosch, NL / Mainstage
Mar 19, 2023 – Brussels, BE / La Madeleine
Mar 21, 2023 – Hamburg, DE / Gruenspan
Mar 22, 2023 – Roskilde, DK / Gimle
Mar 24, 2023 – Oslo, NO / Sentrum Scene
Mar 25, 2023 – Gothenburg, SE / Trädgårn
Mar 26, 2023 – Stockholm, SE / Berns
Mar 29, 2023 – Helsinki, FI / Vanha Ylioppilastalo
Mar 31, 2023 – Tampere, FI / Pakkahuone
Apr 1, 2023 – Oulu, FI / Tapahtumakeskus Tullisali
Apr 3, 2023 – Tallinn, EE / Helitehas
Apr 4, 2023 – Rīga, LV / Melnā Piektdiena
Apr 6, 2023 – Warsaw, PL / Progresja
Apr 7, 2023 – Prague, CZ / Meet Factory
Apr 8, 2023 – Budapest, HU / Barba Negra
May 4, 2023 – Karmøygeddon Metal Festival, NO – Headlining
Sep 8, 2023 – ProgPower USA XXII, USA – Headlining
Tommy Karevik – Vocals
Thomas Youngblood – Guitars
Oliver Palotai – Keyboards
Sean Tibbetts – Bass
Alex Landenburg – Drums