Silverthorn (2012) is the tenth full-length album by US power metal act Kamelot. Silverthorn is a concept album about, in guitarist Thomas Youngblood’s words: “It’s the story of a young girl who dies in the arms of her two twin brothers, taking the three siblings’ big secret to her grave.” Although it’s only been a couple of years since the release of prior effort Poetry for the Poisoned (2010) Kamelot have gone through a pretty major line-up change as their long-time vocalist, Roy Khan, left the band in 2011. Replacing Khan is Swedish vocalist Tommy Karevik (Seventh Wonder). As anyone who knows a bit about Kamelot should be aware, Khan was often identified as an integral part of the band’s sound, so his loss hit the fanbase hard.
This said, in Tommy Karevik Kamelot have the best possible replacement for Khan as they possible could have done. While there are times during Silverthorn where Karevik runs the risk of being considered a Khan clone, it’s his very similar tone and singing style that make him the perfect man for the job. Sometimes when an artist changes their lead vocalist they came back with someone who sounds so different to their predecessor that it seems as if the whole band has changed. A good example of that is Finland’s Nightwish who changed from the operatic Tarja Turunen to the more rock/pop based voice of Anette Olzon. With Tommy Karevik on board however Kamelot does the exact opposite and I would say they have kept their sound intact, however that in itself would be a lie, as Kamelot has changed over the course of their last couple of albums with Khan to a more progressive metal based sound compared to what they had originally been known for, power metal, and Silverthorn is actually a restoration of that old Kamelot sound.
And yet, the sound of the album also shows that the band is not trying to revive their glory days as although once again Kamelot is playing power metal, they’ve also changed again and began much more symphonic than they ever were before, while retaining a few of the progressive metal elements that they had experimented with more recently. As such, the album is essentially the best of both older and newer Kamelot rolled into one, and the result?
Well, the result is the band’s best album in many years, specifically since The Black Halo (2007), and as far as I’m concerned they actually go one better. The return to a power metal sound easily has something to do with that, but another important factor to consider is that the compositional quality has also soared again. Poetry for the Poisoned was ultimately a solid release, but one that required a lot of time to sink in and only really earned a reasonably high regard from me after a couple of years of listening to it. Silverthorn is completely the opposite. It’s easy to get into, and more than that, it’s easy to get completely hooked on.
And really, it only takes the album’s lead single, Sacrimony (Angel of Afterlife), to realise that. This was a perfect choice to kick off promotion for the album. Not only a highlight, but one of the band’s best songs ever recorded, it showcases exactly what Silverthorn is all about; that return to power metal, the more prominent symphonic approach, the progressive undertones, and the amazing vocals of Tommy Karevik, not to mention the excellent vocal interplay between him and guest vocalist Elize Ryd (Amaranthe). Ryd also appears on Veritas and Falling Like the Fahrenheit later in the album. The former of the tracks features use of an accordion right at the end, one showcase of the experimental undertones present on the album. Other guest vocalists on the album are Alissa White-Gluz (The Agonist), who performs growling vocals during Sacrimony and clean vocals during Prodigal Son, a three part song which is a little reminiscent of Poetry for the Poisoned’s multi-part title track, only this time (thankfully) made as one track. The other guest vocalist, aside from choir performers, is Sascha Paeth, who performs the growling in Ashes to Ashes. Paeth also played additional guitars and co-produced the album.
I can’t say every song makes the same sort of impact on me as Sacrimony does, since for me the song is pretty much perfect, the song is hardly a fluke within the album as it does tend to deliver highlight after highlight, including Ashes to Ashes, Torn, Veritas, Solitaire (not to be confused with the intro track that appeared on Ghost Opera) and more. They also deal surprises out. Silverthorn’s title track features interesting use of the choir to create a haunting atmosphere, which is fitting with the concept of the album, and Falling like the Fahrenheit even features music that brings me to mind of the symphonic progressive rock genre during an instrumental section. And of course Prodigal Son is a three part track and at nearly nine minutes, is the album’s epic.
Kamelot really came back with a bang with this one. Not only a return to form, but in Silverthorn the band comfortably has a new masterpiece under their belt to sit alongside the likes of The Fourth Legacy (1999) Epica (2003) and The Black Halo (2005). A top tier rating is easily deserved. Welcome back guys.
(originally written for Heavy Metal Haven (http://metaltube.freeforums.org))