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Review: Kamelot - Poetry for the Poisoned
Poetry for the Poisoned

Label: KMG Recordings
Year released: 2010
Duration: 50:00
Tracks: 14
Genre: Power Metal

Rating: 3.5/5

Review online: September 29, 2010
Reviewed by: Sargon the Terrible
Readers Rating
Poetry for the Poisoned

Rated 3.31/5 (66.27%) (67 Votes)

This is one of the releases I have been waiting for most eagerly, and now at last it is here: the ninth studio album from the awesome Kamelot. I was one of those who thought that Ghost Opera was a step back from the nonstop brilliance of Epica and The Black Halo, so I was hoping this new one would be a return to that pinnacle. In retrospect I was foolish to expect this, but what can I say? Poetry for the Poisoned takes flaws from the last album and further accentuates them, making for an album that is the weakest of the Khan era.

The music here has become denser than before, and the return to greater complexity after the rather straightforward Ghost Opera is welcome, but the intricacy is not so much added compositionally, but rather through studio tricks and layering of instruments. The last three Kamelot albums have been rather overproduced, only succeeding because the studio fiddling was unable to throttle the strength of the songwriting. But the overproduction has finally reached the point of diminishing returns, breaking the songs up into a billion separate parts and choking off the momentum of the compositions. The whole effect makes the music feel sterile and airless, even if it is a richly layered kind of airless. There are still too many vocal effects on Roy Khan, as they are apparently under the impression that we want to listen to a computer rather then one of the great voices of our time.

Not that there are not good songs here. Opener "The Great Pandemonium" is engaging, even if it is a virtual rewrite of "Rule the World". "Hunter's Season" is a great tune, and "Necropolis" gets back the feel of their best material, even if it does abuse the vocal effects horrendously. A lot of the songs on here are not bad, they just have a kind of flat songwriting – once you get past the first chorus they just repeat, without the surprising leaps and twists that used to be a hallmark of this band. "House on a Hill", "My Train of Thoughts" and "Seal of Woven Years" are all kind of like this – decent melodies, but compositionally they don't really do anything cool. "Dear Editor" is a wretched bit of narration about the Zodiac killer – if the Zodiac killer was a muppet with a squeaky voice. I'm not at all sure what it is supposed to accomplish except annoyance. It doesn't help that the song it serves to introduce is so boring.

The four-part title track is going for epic but really just comes off as shapeless and self-indulgent, with too many parts and not enough substance. I am forcibly reminded of the genuine epics on Epica and The Black Halo, and how much better those are than this, which is an attempt to create epic feeling without genuine emotion.

I hate having to say that Kamelot have made a substandard album, but they really have. The overproduction has reached an egregious level, the songwriting is thinner and less memorable, and Khan continues to obsess over half-tones and vocal effects rather than the singable hooks he is known for. The compositions and melodies are derivative of other, better Kamelot songs, to the point that the whole album has a kind of recycled feeling to it. Disappointing to say the least.

Other related information on the site
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Review: Epica (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Review: Eternity (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Review: Ghost Opera (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Review: Ghost Opera Tour (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
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Review: Karma (reviewed by Christian Renner)
Review: Karma (reviewed by Larry Griffin)
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Review: Poetry for the Poisoned (reviewed by Larry Griffin)
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Interview with Khan (vocals) on July 30, 2007 (Interviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
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