Norwegian-American progressive power metal act Kamelot‘s 2010 album Poetry for the Poisoned is unlike anything they have ever released, and to some extent unlike anything anyone has ever released. It is an interesting joyride of traditional heavy metal hatered, emotions beyond music and and an experience hard to match nor describe, but let’s try.
The Great Pandemonium (4:23)
I was one of the few lucky ones to hear this one, Hunter’s Season and Thespian Drama on the spring 2010 Pandemonium Over Europe tour, and ofcourse I immediately found it to be a wonderful new track. The Great Pandemonium is interesting, being both one of Kamelot’s heaviest and catchiest songs, and that’s saying a lot. It brings on new inspirations and recalls old, bringing back growls from songs like March of Mephisto (fromThe Black Halo) and techno features that are getting more and more familiar on this album. The lyrics are top on this one, and it has a video that measure with some of the best ever produced.
If Tomorrow Came (3:56)
If Tomorrow Came is one of the album’s faster, catchier songs alongside Once Upon a Tale, but when acted out by Kamelot, even the catchiest song can’t turn away from metal. If Tomorrow Came is an in-your-face attack, a train of thought (getting there) that’s fast for the sake of being fast, and it works. It may not be a song that stays on the mind for long, but when it’s there it’s there, even for the mere moment
Dear Editor (1:19)
It’s not all too fair judging Dear Editor by itself as it is in fact an intro to The Zodiac, but I still will. For an intro, it is really interesting, managing to build up a heavier, spooky feel even after the race of If Tomorrow Came. The intro features the reading of a letter from the infamous Zodiac killer, which the next song is a long reference to, and not much more is needed. It works.
The Zodiac (4:01)
The Zodiac is clearly a new way Kamelot has never travelled before. Though its sinister, heavy feel is reminiscent of The Black Halo’s March of Mephisto, it is definitely not in the same vein. This is a portrait of a killer, and it is very well described. The notes travel between calm, ice-cold planning and sudden rage, before calming down again – the perfect idea of a homocidal psychopath.
Hunter’s Season (5:34)
Among the songs on the album, Hunter’s Season is probably the one which stays in the listeners’ mind best on first listen. It is both one of the speedier songs as well as one of the more emotional ones, immediately reminiscent of Finnish metal act Sonata Arctica‘s 2009 track The Last Amazing Grays. The song was written by guitarist Thomas Youngblood to the memory of his deseased mother, and the lyrics are some of Kamelot’s best.
House on a Hill (4:15)
Kamelot and ballads often go hand in hand, with golden tracks such as Sailorman’s Hymn, Abandoned and Wander, and House on a Hill is another one to add for future top lists. An emotional ballad with Epica’s Simone Simons, House on a Hill is a combination of beautiful music and wonderful lyrics. Though it is rather simplistic on first listen, allowing more casual listeners to enjoy it early, it is definitely a grower, alongside tracks such as the longer Poetry for the Poisoned. One complaint I have always had concerning Simons in Kamelot songs (such as The Haunting (Somewhere in Time) from ”The Black Halo”) is that she has never been given enough space, but her appearances on this album (this one as well as the title track) are much better, and the result is much better produced music.
Necropolis is the first in a series of songs that felt extremely out of place on first listen, but this one especially is a real grower. A natural live track, it’s leading guitar alongside the technological editing of Khan’s voice hypnotises the listener, kidnapping along on a very interesting journey indeed.
My Train of Thoughts (4:07) & Seal of Woven Years (5:12)
My Train of Thoughts and Seal of Woven Years are the two of which I still have some extreme doubts. Both are really exciting songs, very different from anything Kamelot has ever done before, but they also pass by if you don’t pay attention. There is something about these two tracks that requires the listener to pay attention, maybe even just close his or her eyes and only listen to the music and lyrics and nothing else. But when you do, they are extremely interesting songs. And I don’t know if that is good or bad.
Poetry for the Poisoned I – IV
Let’s just take the splitting up thing first. This is the album’s big epic, and I should note immediately how I absolutely love it, but it is also divided into four tracks, for no apparant reason. It is seldom a good choice to divide a song up into sections, and one of the few times it is okay is when the songs can be played one by one and still enjoyed, but for example IV – Dissection can simply never be played on itself. Another reason would be if the tracks simply are so long it’s annoying (check Devil Doll‘s Dies Irae out). But on to the actual review.
The song starts out amazing with an atmospheric build in I – Incubus, and the lyrics are some of Kamelot’s finest works. The song however somehow works into a strange quotation on the being of the incubus, and while it doesn’t ruin it doesn’t help either – it could easily have been skipped or replaced and the song would have kept more of its atmosphere.
But most of the atmosphere is kept, and works wonderfully into II – So Long, with Simone Simons making another beautiful appearance. This is the other track that could be called a ballad on the album, and it works phenomenally. It is the longest part of the song, and it is perfect by that length, including a wonderful chorus, verses and a solo before moving into III – All is Over and IV – Dissection (I find great difficulty finding where one end and the other begin). These two have some phenomenal instrumental moments, as well as the beautiful Mozartian What if all is over? section. These parts definitely could have been longer, but they overall make it. While I at first listen thought the instrumental end of Dissection was anticlimactic, destroying what was built up in All is Over, but on additional listens it appears more and more aggressive and interesting, and while it stops quite suddenly it seems to be suiting this magnificent suite of tracks.
Once Upon a Time (3:46)
Someone described Once Upon a Time as ”if EdenEcho and Season’s End had a beautiful lovechild”, and it is true. Kamelot has always managed to find some light in the end of even the darkest story – on ”Epica” it’s Snow, on ”The Black Halo” Serenade and on ”Ghost Opera” EdenEcho – and I keep finding it harder and harder to match. But this one is a track with wonderful lyrics (I notice I keep praising the lyrics on this album), a catchy chorus and a shredding guitar solo. This is too much. This is the epitome of greatness. This is Kamelot.