Kamelot – I Am The Empire – Live From The 013
Release Date: 14/08/2020
Running Time: 97:12
Review By Beth Jones
You know when you finally get round to paying attention to a band that you should have paid attention to a long time ago. And then when you do, you feel like the dumbest decision you ever made was leaving it until now to do that. Well…um…yeah, that. I know, I know!! I will hold my hands up and you may throw rotten fruit at me and call me an idiot for leaving it this long to pay attention to American Symphonic Metal aficionados, Kamelot. But please rest assured that this sort of oversight will never happen again!
This most recent release is an epic live album, featuring their performance at the legendary 013 in Tilburg, Netherlands. It features 21 extraordinary tracks, with guest appearances from some renowned names, and spans an extensive nearly 100 minutes of play time. And I’m guessing that you may have already worked out from my score, that, for me, this is 100 minutes of pure extravagant joy!
The album begins with a triumphant instrumental overture, befitting of any good Arthurian film to accompany a riding sequence, with Arthur and the knights traversing rocky terrain. What better way is there to open a show for a symphonic metal band by the name of Kamelot, eh? None I tell thee!
From there we travel through hit after hit of grand melodies, from new songs to classics, encompassing intricate harmonies, powerful rhythms, and insatiable instrumentation that fills every beat with drama and beauty. We’re also treated to guest appearances from the likes of Alissa White-Gluz (Arch Enemy), Charlotte Wessels (Delain), Elize Ryd (Amaranthe), Lauren Hart (Once Human) and Sascha Paeth (Avantasia, Epica and more)!
But for me, the aspect that gives me those excited, ‘tingles down the spine’ moments, is Tommy Karevik’s stunning vocals. They are both powerful and effortless, with a richness and purity that could melt even the coldest heart. If there is some kind of heavenly Eutopia for us to pass over to in the afterlife, I sure hope this is the soundtrack.
One track that particularly stands out for me, and displays these silky vocals perfectly, is ‘Here’s to the Fall’. In a change to the pacey and orchestrated masterpieces that have bathed us to this point, this ballad is more stripped back. It doesn’t have face melting solos, or earth-shattering power drumming. It is a melancholic piece with the perfect marriage of Piano and vocals at the forefront, backed up with strings and gentle bass. It has the feeling of a great operatic aria, steeped in sadness, somewhere in the middle of a Broadway musical, where one of the lesser main characters has departed before their time. Being a huge fan of musicals and all things dramatic and operatic, and a big old emotional softy, this ticks all the boxes for me! And god, that voice!!! I have gone all melty.
Now, my usual gripe with live albums is the production/annoying crowd noise/bits where the vocals disappear in the mix etc, etc. But, because this album has been mixed and mastered by Sascha Paeth, none of this is applicable – everything is placed perfectly, every instrument cuts through at the right level, and the vocals sit beautifully throughout. Even the crowd noise works! It’s like they’re an extra facet to the band, and it really makes you feel like you are there, immersed in the whole live experience! At one point there is a section where, I’m guessing, the band got the crowd to do the old ‘Which side can shout the loudest’ routine, and even this is panned between the left and right channels to give you the correct feel of it! Attention to detail like that is what makes great production stand out.
So, to the bad points. There are none! It’s perfect. That’s the shortest paragraph I’ve ever written.
“I Am The Empire – Live From The 013” is available in digital format, as well as CD digipak, Deluxe Box (including the album), Blu-Ray/DVD, and vinyl. I would suggest that if you like Symphonic Metal, Power Metal, Operatic Metal, Musical Theatre, or simply just want something bloody marvellous to listen to, then you should invest in this album.
01. Transcendence (Intro)
02. Phantom Divine (Shadow Empire) – feat. Lauren Hart
03. Rule The World
05. The Great Pandemonium
06. When The Lights Are Down
07. My Confession – feat. Eklipse
08. Veil Of Elysium
09. Under Grey Skies – feat. Charlotte Wessels (live premiere)
10. Ravenlight – feat. Sascha Paeth
11. End Of Innocence
12. March Of Mephisto – feat. Alissa White Gluz
14. Manus Dei
15. Sacrimony (Angel Of Afterlife) – feat. Alissa White Gluz & Elize Ryd
16. Drum And Keys Solo
17. Here’s To The Fall
19. Burns To Embrace – with Children’s Choir including Thomas Youngblood’s son
20. Liar Liar (Wasteland Monarchy) – feat Alissa White Gluz
21. Ministrium (Shadow Key)
Thomas Youngblood – guitars
Tommy Karevik – vocals
Oliver Palotai – keyboards
Sean Tibbetts – bass
Alex Landenburg – drums
Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Beth Jones and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.