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Kamelot - "Haven" (CD)

Kamelot - "Haven" CD cover image

"Haven" track listing:

1. Fallen Star
2. Insomnia
3. Citizen Zero
4. Veil of Elysium
5. Under Grey Skies
6. My Therapy
7. Ecclesia
8. End of Innocence
9. Beautiful Apocalypse
10. Liar Liar (Wasteland Monarchy)
11. Here's To The Fall
12. Revolution
13. Haven

Reviewed by on April 28, 2015

"On 'Haven,' the band follows along a similar path as heard on 'Silverthorn.' All the trademarks that we have come to love are present, but it seems to lack that instant punch of its predecessor."

Kamelot returns with “Haven,” the second post-Khan release. With the majority of the “RoyBoy” tensions calmed when “Silverthorn” was released in 2012, fans have almost universally adopted Tommy Karevik (Seventh Wonder) as their new savior. Holdouts do remain vigilant though – sadly weeping over wine, a candle, and portrait waiting for the “wrath of Khan” to rise, though hope is microscopic. Kamelot has moved on…and so should you. On “Haven,” the band follows along a similar path as heard on “Silverthorn.”

All the trademarks that we have come to love are present, but it seems to lack that instant punch of its predecessor. It may just be that the honeymoon with Karevik is over, and expectation levels have been reset. However, the album is a true grower, so with time one can easily see that “Haven” comes very close in quality and songwriting as “Silverthorn.”

On the first pass through “Haven,” only a handful of tracks seemed to immediately stick. It starts off really mighty – “Fallen Star,” “Insomnia,” album favorite “Citizen Zero,” and “Veil of Elysium” show the entirety of the band’s strengths and set a nice pace to the album. On “Citizen Zero,” the orchestrations are brilliant, as is the little pizazz that Oliver Palotai adds to his keyboard work. “Under Grey Skies” is the obligatory ballad, and it is sung in nearly the same manner as “Song for Jolee” – perhaps a little too much for comfort. It is a pretty tune and has a tad more punch towards the second half, especially when guest Charlotte Wessels (Delain) appears, but with a mostly flat affect. “My Therapy” is another solid tune, but comes across like “I’ve heard this before.” The riffs are there, the musicianship is tight – it seems like it’s all right there – but it takes a while to absorb and seems like a “Silverthorn” cast off.

Over the second half of the album, “Beautiful Apocalypse” is one of the best of the lot. “End of Innocence” sounds eerily reminiscent of material on “Silverthorn” – though here, the chorus really shines. “Liar Liar” has another contribution by Arch Enemy’s Alyssa White-Gluz. “Here’s to the Fall” is a serviceable, but skippable ballad, but it both greatly enhances and is greatly enhanced by the next and most intriguing song on the release: “Revolution.”

“Revolution” represents Kamelot at its absolute darkest and heaviest. Surely, if the rest of the album lacks total impact in comparison to “Silverthorn,” this winner will smack some faces. Thomas Youngblood's blistering riff shreds augment White-Gluz’s gnarl stamp as Oliver Palotai’s keyboards steer the deadly melody. I know it’s not his style or comfort zone, but I really wish Tommy Karevik would have deviated from his perfect smooth pitch to put a little rasp on his vocals for this one. Amid the wonderful chaos, he sounds like the the only one who doesn’t want to destroy the place.

“Haven” is expertly produced by Jacob Hansen, so it sounds spectacular. It may be a slow grower which needs a bit more repetition than “Silverthorn,” “Haven” proves to be almost as formidable. Perhaps there is a little too much similarity to its predecessor here and there, but the album also sports the darkest/heaviest Kamelot track of all time. If you find you've had a similar experience, give it some time and more spins. Kamelot rarely disappoints, as its members are as professional as they come. You never know though, you may just find your “Haven” at first blush.

Highs: Expertly played power/progressive metal from one of the subgenre's best; "Citizen Zero" and "Revolution" dazzle.

Lows: Some of the material is a little too close to the "Silverthorn," causing a lack of immediate impact. The album may need repeated listens to grow.

Bottom line: Treading a bit too close to "Silverthorn," Kamelot's new album takes time to grow into what truly is a safe "Haven."

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)