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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: 4.5/5

Review online: October 11, 2010
Reviewed by: Larry Griffin
Readers Rating
Poetry for the Poisoned

Rated 3.38/5 (67.54%) (61 Votes)

Well, the new Kamelot is finally here after three long years of waiting, and is it any good? Okay, okay, stupid question. But how good is it? Well, let's take a look at the very oddly named Poetry for the Poisoned now that it has finally arrived in my mailbox.

For one, the artwork is just weird as hell, depicting...two pale cyborg-ladies covering their faces with veils while their torsos just seem to be falling apart. It's a very stylized cyber-goth sort of look that I guess we should have been expecting from this band after the last album was already sort of heading in that direction. But still – weird. The art inside the booklet is equally ornate, with a lot of artsy, demented pictures adorning the lyrics, which are written in different fonts from stanza to stanza, like some kind of a ransom note or something. Any booklet that has a picture of a four-armed Hindu idol with the face of a Geisha holding a glowing red orb is at least trying.

The production here is tremendous, big and heavy and clear, and it really accentuates what is so wonderful about this music. Yes, folks, Kamelot has not changed its primary vehicle of musical expression...the music on Poetry is the same brand of cool, soothing melodic metal that they've been doing ever since Roy Khan's entrance to the band. The reasons why this album rules are the same reasons why their last three have ruled – expert poppy syncopation tying together songs and making them memorable as hell, a sleek melodic sensibility that is simple but yet always refined and elegant, and the vocals of Roy Khan, who is one of metal's finest singers ever with his silky, smooth crooning that is quite simply, absolutely infectious – even though he sings lower and deeper on here than he ever has. Poetry for the Poisoned does not change their tried and true formula, minus a few slightly darker moments. It is the same formula that made Epica and The Black Halo work – no need to fix what isn't broken, after all. With strong songwriting that sinks its hooks deep into your brain Kamelot work their magic, and thus produces another fine, fine album. It's a very streamlined take on the Kamelot sound, and simpler, too, but it works.

Opener "The Great Pandemonium" kicks ass with its opaque orchestrations, proggy riffs and hypnotic chorus, and the driving, haunting "If Tomorrow Came" has nothing to envy either, with its excellent verses sending chills down my spine every time. "Hunter's Season" is one of the standouts, with its simple, mourning motif and cooking metallic guitar acrobatics that explode into a huge orchestration of languishing and sorrow, with a great chorus to boot. This album really does have some of the heaviest, liveliest Kamelot moments yet, as the pulsating, full-throttle prog of "My Train of Thoughts" and the following "Seal of Woven Years" will attest with their hooky, winding choruses and musical accomplishments. Other songs, like the creepy "The Zodiac" and the looming, romping "Necropolis" are cyclical and repetitive, drilling into your head with stomping choruses and slow, searing riff/keyboard combinations. "House on a Hill" is probably the album's biggest let down, as while it's not a terrible song, I just expect so much more from a Kamelot ballad. This one is just too simple and doesn't have the kind of beauty and poignancy I expect from one of their slow pieces. And closer "Once Upon A Time" is a bit of a coming-down after the monolithic title track(s). It's just too simple, and doesn't have enough going on musically to justify being the last impression you'll have of this album. It is pretty catchy though.

The centerpiece of the album is the four-part title song, divided into four separate songs here. It's a very misanthropic, disjointed piece that comes off like it's a trip inside the mind of some mental patient locked in a closed-off ward in the middle of the night, longing for some long-ago love. "Incubus" and "So Long" are more complete pieces with ghostly choirs and moving melodic orchestrations – "Show me how it feels to be alive..." – and "All is Over" and "Dissection" descend the affair into chaos and distorted feedback, with Khan's despairing vocals laid over them in one of his finest performances since Epica. Masterful, really. This piece is pretty dense and complex, but it grows on you, and I really do think it's the most inspired part of this album.

Undoubtedly this is one of the band's simplest and most streamlined, catchy albums yet, even topping Ghost Opera in that regard by a little. I don't think it's quite as captivating as that album, and definitely not as much as the two before that, but it's a good album. In a sense it is a step down for Kamelot, and I am sure we could speculate conspiracy theories all day about the band's intentions and increasing commercial success, but really, they just know what works for them. Poetry for the Poisoned does not reach the heights set by the band on previous efforts, but it does provide an effective album of high quality riffs, choruses and gloomy atmospherics that I think any fan will delight in. Check it out.

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