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Autumn Harvest: Major Releases From Behemoth, Seventh Wonder, and Vreid

October 16, 2018

In the midst of working on a few big features, including but not limited to a very preliminary imagining of what the Best of 2018 list might wind up as (so I’m not, y’know, scrambling in December as usual), I’ve also made sure to listen to a couple new albums from some noteworthy artists that deserve timely reviews. There’s the new Behemoth album, which may very well be one of the most anticipated extreme metal albums ever in terms of pre-release buzz that surrounded it. Then there’s the long (loooong) awaited new album by Seventh Wonder, a band that got pushed to the background a bit when vocalist Tommy Karevik joined Kamelot. This will be the second album with Karevik’s vocals released this year, and intriguingly enough, the new Seventh Wonder was ready to go way back in the spring when Kamelot’s The Shadow Theory forced its release to be pushed back. I know that rankled a lot of Seventh Wonder / Tommy Karevik fans, and I’ll attempt to answer the open question here of was it worth the wait, and frankly, which band made better use of his voice? Finally there’s the new album by Vreid, a band I hadn’t listened to in nearly a decade(!) that we actually discussed briefly on the September MSRcast, but the album was still new to me and I’ve had a lot of time to digest it since. Lets get straight to it then:

 

 

 

 

Behemoth – I Loved You At Your Darkest:

 

Its interesting to see the spectrum of reactions to Behemoth’s newest and most daring release to date. That it has the benefit or misfortune (or both) of coming on the heels of their career watershed The Satanist adds an extra dose of intrigue to just how their fans and the greater media reaction at large will be. There was little obvious pressure with The Satanist, I recall very vividly the sentiment being that people were simply so happy that Nergal had come out of his cancer scare and that we were just plain fortunate to have a new Behemoth album at all in the first place. But surprise of surprises, it was a massively successful artistic leap, one applauded by almost everyone (there’s always a few naysayers) for the far more expressive and adventurous musical changes incorporated throughout. Gone was the stifling, suffocating density and overwhelming technical sheen of the Demigod through Evangelion era, replaced by a more organic, breathable sonic production and far more thoughtful and expressive songwriting to match. The adjective “mature” was tossed around a lot, and while its an overused cliche in music criticism, it really did fit in that context, you could sense that something profound had changed about Behemoth and more to the point, Nergal himself. 

 

We’ll look back on The Satanist the same way we’re starting to look back on Satyricon’s 2013 self-titled album, as the simultaneous end of a defining era for the band and the beginning of a new one. Satyricon’s Deep Calleth Upon Deep was one of the most haunting, rich, and deeply resonant black metal albums in years, and it doubled down on the stripped back, less dense sound of its predecessor, a choice that has changed and morphed the idea of the Satyricon sound in remarkable ways. Ditto for Behemoth with I Loved You At Your Darkest, which bypasses further nudging open the door that The Satanist cracked open by outright kicking it down. This is wildly diverse, loose, freeing album for not only the band’s sound, but in redefining the boundaries of what moods and emotions their music can now encompass. Nergal has clearly allowed the dark folk influences of his side project Me and That Man to flow through in a myriad of ways, but that’s a gross oversimplification. This is a bold, fearlessly expressive listening experience, from the opening children’s choral intro in “Solve” that resurfaces to glorious effect in “God = Dog”, to the almost Enigma-esque Gregorian chant swells that punctuate the refrains in both “Ecclesia Diabolica Catholica” and “Bartzabel”.

 

The changes aren’t all vocal based either, with the aforementioned “Ecclesia” suddenly dropping into a grey toned acoustic strumming sequence in its outro that right out of the folk metal playbook. There are also much larger swathes of these songs actually constructed with open chord sequences, often with cleanly arpeggiated progressions that are dreamily hypnotic. Its something we noticed Nergal incorporating more on The Satanist, but here he isn’t afraid to build entire tracks around them, “Bartzabel” a vivid example, but its also a big part of the inverse technique employed on “If Crucifixion Was Not Enough”. This is something that seems so obvious when you hear it, but bands have to grow into doing it —- minimizing the usage of blastbeats and waves of tremolo by packing them into shorter, thoughtfully employed bursts, instead of spreading them over everything like too much peanut butter overpowering too little jelly. The unsung hero here is drummer Inferno, who delivers the performance of a lifetime all throughout these twelve songs. His ability to be creative and diverse in his patterns, his choice of fills and the shift in reliance to floor toms and tribal sounding, emotionally charged percussion instead of simply battering our ears with a non-stop assault is the singular most important facet in Nergal’s ability to grow as an extreme metal songwriter and have it sound convincing and vital. One of the best albums of the year and to my tastes, the absolute pinnacle of Behemoth’s career, just stunning.

 

 

 

 

 

Vreid – Lifehunger:

 

Norway’s Vreid began life way back in 2004 after the tragic ending of Windir, and I remember at the time thinking that they were going to continue in the vein of what that band’s recently deceased founder Valfar had started. The first three albums somewhat did, though never really fully embracing the spirit that ran through Windir, something in retrospect we can see largely came from its founding member. I think my interest dropped off sometime after 2007’s I krig, it being the last album I can now remember listening to, and after that I was never reminded to check back in, or maybe I was but decided to skip it (aka the Soilwork effect). Its also perhaps not fair to always judge bands in the grim shadows of their former incarnations. I find myself doing the same with Thrawsunblat, who have a new album coming out later this week, which I’ll undoubtedly start comparing to Woods of Ypres and David Gold’s incredibly soulful songwriting. As is the way with these things, we find ourselves re-discovering artists through word of mouth recommendation, because Lifehunger was a complete surprise to me, sent in my direction via Cary the Metal Geek on our last MSRcast. I was mildly curious as to how we got a promo of this one, and surprise surprise, this album is being released on Season of Mist, the band’s first for the label. What a difference working PR makes!

 

 

The timing of this release is perhaps key to my enthusiasm in embracing it as fully as I have, because I’m sitting here writing this on the eve of a cold “northern wind” that’s supposed to blow through the streets of Houston and purify the hot, foul, stale vapors that drape this city like the heaviest wool blanket. If the cover art wasn’t enough to put you in an autumnal mood with its depiction of dead trees and a spooky moonlit silhouette of Death, the intro track “Flowers & Blood” should work, and its acoustic simplicity is a motif that we’ll hear throughout the album, almost like a rustic skeleton that binds all these songs together. But beyond essential folk metal ingredients, what really makes Lifehunger fascinating is the scope of its ambition, that the band chose to write without constraints and to put it bluntly, let themselves get really weird with it. The album opener proper “One Hundred Years” is perhaps the most conventional thing on the album and even it is loaded with passages where countermelodies spring up to disrupt the more familiar blackened folk metal tempo and riff structure. The title track jumps from an ominous marching tempo with almost doom metal inflected repetitive riffing to a furious uptempo attack, only to down shift again in the middle with a rock back-beat and a dirty Darkthrone vibe reminiscent of something off Circle the Wagons. One of my favorites for sheer unpredictability is “The Dead White”, not only for its myriad tempo shifts, but the Reinkaos-era Dissection vibe running throughout. Its a mix of smokey blackened folk with the coiled up energy of melodic death metal that results in a standout track, perhaps the best on the album.

 

 

Vocalist Sture Dingsøyr still has every bit the fierce, biting blackened rasp he did on their earlier records, but its aged into something resembling modern day Satyr in tone, not a bad thing. He’s at his best on my personal favorite track, “Hello Darkness”, where he even attempts some strangled cleans that remind me of In Solitude or Year of the Goat. There’s a near-campy Halloween vibe in the first few minutes here, and normally that stuff might annoy me but I think I was so charmed by hearing it on my first listen through the album that its stuck to me in a good way. Whats even more lovable is the 70s Scorpions Uli-era semi-chimed riff at around the three minute mark. It was so unexpected and feels so out of place on what is largely a bleak album, a moment of warm tones and major chords conjuring up bright nostalgia. It actually sums up the album for me, a listening experience that kept me guessing all the way throughout, yet when Vreid just put their heads down and barrel relatively straight ahead as on “Black Rites in the Black Nights”, I’m not left disappointed. The actual blackened folk here is strong, confident and creatively written in its own right —- the unexpected surprises just add to the depth of the songwriting as a whole. I’ve been away from these guys so long that I can’t definitively say this is their best effort, but its the one I’ve loved the most. Its also somewhat comforting in the light of the nascent folk metal revitalization last year to hear a strong connection to their Windir roots running through Lifehunger, I suspect Valfar would be proud.

 

 

 

 

 

Seventh Wonder – Tiara:

 

There’s something satisfying about getting to evaluate both Tommy Karevik fronted bands’ new releases essentially back to back within the same calendar year. Kamelot released The Shadow Theory in April and we heard the power metal institution run smack into a creative wall, a disappointment considering how artistically successful they were on 2015’s Haven. Without regurgitating what I went into detail in explaining in my reviews for those albums, I think there’s a feeling among the power metal constituency that Kamelot are a little too attached to the darker imagery they’re using these days in a vain attempt to try to capture perhaps a broader audience (and failing spectacularly at it commercially speaking, but that’s another matter). I’ve accused the band of trying to shoe-horn in something I’ve termed faux-heaviness, which The Shadow Theory was loaded with and characterized Haven’s few weak moments. What does that have to do with Karevik’s role as their vocalist? Well, everything. That comes into sharp relief once you hear him back in his ‘home turf’ of the unapologetically heart-on-sleeve prog metal of Seventh Wonder. Karevik’s performances on both his band’s newest albums is a night and day contrast, and since its football Sunday as I’m writing this, I’ll ask aloud: Do you hand off the ball to the running back 40 times a game if you have Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers at quarterback? You don’t need to be a football expert to know the answer to that question, and you only need to be passingly familiar with Karevik’s work in Seventh Wonder to know that like the legend that he ended up replacing in Kamelot, he understands how to craft vocal melodies and has a range as gorgeously soaring as a Rodger’s hail mary. Put the ball in his hands.

 

Let’s put the comparison’s aside for a bit though, because there’s also the fact that this is Seventh Wonder’s first album in eight fricken years, a byproduct of Karevik’s limited availability, so that’s enough reason to be excited. This isn’t a band that needed Wintersun or even Blind Guardian-esque timescales between albums to create the next one, there were only at most two year gaps between each of their previous four albums, including the back to back greatness of Mercy Falls and The Great Escape. Seventh Wonder purists were indeed right to be concerned with just how much Karevik’s prolonged abscences and creative responsibilities elsewhere would detract from this band (a lot as it turned out). Fortunately for them, the rest of Seventh Wonder spent the intervening years working on this album as their main musical priority, with Karevik taking part during the breaks from Kamelot related activity. With the luxury of time on their side, they had to ability to compose what turns out to be the most intricate, melodically diverse, and conceptually ambitious concept record of their career. They haven’t strayed from their inherent sonic identity, adhering to their rather uniquely streamlined approach to prog-metal with Andreas Söderin’s 70s prog-rock keyboards almost acting as connective tissue amidst the staccato riffs and rumblings of guitarist Johan Liefvendahl and bassist/co-lyricist Andreas Blomqvist. Despite the majority of the songwriting here being hyper-centered around the vocal melodies, their roles are crucial within the sound of this band, and as on past albums they find various scattered little moments for their own star turns. I’ll be honest though, one of the things I’ve identified as a weakness for this band here and on past records is that I can find myself tuning out during some of their relatively few extended instrumental breaks. Even though they’re not as noodle heavy as Dream Theater, they’re still working from a prog foundation in style, so instead of purposeful sustained riffing, or clearly outlined melodic motifs, the musical beds during the more uptempo/metal tracks work as rhythmic exercises, which is hardly captivating by itself. 

 

With Karevik getting the lions share of the spotlight however, we’re far more attuned to process this album through his vocal melodies, inflection choices, and of course his and Blomqvist’s lyric writing abilities. I’m not going to detail out the concept here, because Google for one and also its just too much to talk about, but its tilted enough towards centering around specific characters and their emotions and that’s plenty of ammo for great lyrics. I’m thinking specifically of album highlight “Tiara’s Song (Farewell Pt 1)”, the most gloriously pop drenched moment here, its chorus something right out of the Ayreon / Avantasia grand gesture oeuvre: “Farewell Tiara, this song is yours / From Sahara to the seven seas it soars”. There’s a really inspired bit of album making in the connective sequel track “Goodnight (Farewell Pt 2), where that chorus is revisited by the mechanic of storytelling itself, with us hearing what appears to be a celebratory nighttime campfire singalong, heard amidst the din of people laughing and conversing while crickets chirp in the trees. Tiara has been selected to be humanity’s savior, and they’re giving her a farewell party, raising glasses to her name. Its a perfect lead in to “Beyond Today (Farewell Pt 3)” where we get to hear directly from the heroine herself, and this is where Karevik is just magic as a lyricist and emotive singer. He can deliver gut-wrenching emotion with vocal inflection and choices in phrasing, and sells us on the very relatable idea that Tiara’s inner dialogue on the eve of her solo journey into outer space to represent all of humanity is preoccupied with very human, very teenage girl thoughts: “I wonder will I ever say / Hey, if you tell me yours, I’ll tell you mine / A perfect stranger in a ticket line / Just like in the movies, will he put his hand in mine?” Its not the first time we’ve been treated to this kind of ultra aware songwriting from Karevik and company, but few bands do it as boldly and fearlessly as Seventh Wonder.

 

I’ve enjoyed this album more than I thought I would, and I don’t know why I was initially low on expectations… perhaps it was that The Shadow Theory really bummed me out on anything and anyone associated with it. Hearing Karevik in this context however has renewed my confidence that Kamelot really did grab the right guy (certainly Haven was no fluke), but they just have to loosen up a bit and let him be a little closer to the vocalist we’re hearing right here. And to be fair, Karevik has come out recently and talked about why the approach he takes in Kamelot is so different to his Seventh Wonder style, and he made a few interesting points. First that Kamelot write in a different style altogether, which may be debatable given what we know about the earlier records with Roy (they were as theatrical, playful and major key as anything done by Seventh Wonder), and second that he feels uninhibited when composing vocal melodies for Seventh Wonder because he knows he won’t have to tour on those songs for any length of time. The latter is a band that for all purposes is a very popular studio project that occasionally does a festival date or two. Its a bitter pill to swallow in even considering the implication here, that Kamelot’s touring schedule might be affecting just how Karevik approaches his performances in the band. I’m not entirely convinced, because his work on Haven was closer to what we hear on Tiara than The Shadow Theory. Seventh Wonder definitely released the stronger album this year, by a mile even, I’ve enjoyed it immensely, even digging into the concept which usually isn’t my forte. This is just wishful fan-thinking, but I’d hope that hearing the record themselves would light a fire under the rest of Kamelot for the future.

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. Kim permalink
    October 21, 2018 10:10 am

    MP, totally agree with your assessment. Love love the new SW album! I am sensitive and preferential to voice so if I had one picky point it would be the mix — I would have liked the balance to be more weighted to vocals since as good as Tommy is on this record, voice is a more delicate instrument. It is especially noticeable on headphones. However this has not stopped me from listening so many times that even the cat has started leaving the room!

    • October 23, 2018 11:24 pm

      Its interesting that you mentioned the vocal level in the mix, because I heard some criticism about the mix being too low for the bass (apparently people really wanna hear bass in Seventh Wonder!), but I can kinda hear that Tommy is buried just a touch. Its of course hard to say that he’s lost in the mix since you hear him so clearly, but compared to previous records yeah I can definitely tell its different. I wonder what happened, if they maybe tried a different mixing engineer or studio?

  2. Francis. permalink
    October 28, 2018 12:55 am

    Regarding SW new Record, that I’ve listened to it a lot this past few weeks.

    The whole record feels like it expanded on the style of the song “Wiseman” from The Great Escape.

    I liked it in general. But the one critisism I will say is that I would’ve preferred that Karevik singing used more of his mid-range (like in Mercy Falls) instead of singing way up high all the time.

    I don’t know if I’m sensitive to it, but I feel that he’s over-extending and probably hurting himself because of how physically demanding is to be able to sing like that over an extended period of time.

    Beyond that, I consider a few highlights to be “Dream Machines”, “Tiara Pt1” and perhaps “The Everones”.

    I personally feel I was a bit overhyped by this record, I love TGE and grew to love MF even more as I listened to their discography over and over. And I was hoping that the idea of a new concept album would push the band to bring something as balanced but with an all around top quality. I blame myself for this though, but after 8 years, expectations fluctuate through a big spectrum of feelings that depending on your personality it can get a bit uncontrolable.

    Thank you for work on this blog.

    Also, are you looking foward for the upcoming Conception reunion with Roy?

    • November 1, 2018 1:46 pm

      Oh yeah, regarding Conception I’m looking forward to it perhaps more than anything else this year just to hear Roy again. Your SW criticism is interesting, I never considered that he was gunning mostly in the upper range this time around but you’re spot on. I’m not sure if that detracts from anything for me… its been a good minute since I’ve listened to the album b/c I burned myself out on it while preparing for this review but you might be onto something. Tommy actually did say in interviews that he feels more unrestrained to go to higher registers in SW because he knows he won’t be touring on these songs like he would with Kamelot. Maybe he took that aspect of it too far?

      • Francis permalink
        November 2, 2018 1:25 pm

        I’ve just listened to the Conception Single. I won’t give you any spoilers, I’ll expect your post about it to tell you what I think about it.

        I like that he feels more free on SW, to do whatever he wants. His vocal lines and delivery are great (Dream Machines final vocal line is a great example).

        Maybe because of the extended period of time to work on the songs was so spaced that he wasn’t aware the possibility of the extended use of higher registers.

        That being said, this album by far has the PowerMetal component ramped up to the max compared to the previous discography, and probably that’s why the constant high-pitches.

        I’m enjoying it more now. There are a few Pits there though. Parts 2 & 3 of Farewell and Victorious are songs that I couldn’t care less about.

        I think the album could benefited more from a good powerful ballad, like One Last Goodbye or Long Way Home.

        It would’ve made a good contrast to the already solid Bright & Positive vibe from most of the songs.

      • November 2, 2018 4:27 pm

        Since there isn’t a Conception post yet(I know, same day as the release…), I thought I would chime in here where you brought up Conception.

        I’ve listened to both songs, and let’s just say I have learned something about myself: I don’t really like Conception, at all. I’ve had a run through their original albums and yes there are a few songs I like, but most of them are rather forgettable for me as seemingly their overall style is just not to my liking.

        On the positive side, I think the first single(“Grand Again”) from them shows Roy does indeed have something left in the tank. But, I hate the distorted vocals in the verses, and the chorus is honestly atrocious for me. The other song, “Feather Moves” does absolutely nothing for me. I think it absolutely sucks, and I can’t even stand to listen to it, honestly.

        Deep down I think that if Roy had only ever been with Conception and had never joined Kamelot, I do not believe I ever would have become a Roy Khan fan. I didn’t expect him to do Kamelot style music by any means, but I once again expected something a bit different. I was hoping for something that may demonstrate a seriously profound update in their writing due to the addition of maturity and general experience as they undoubtedly have seen and been a part of so much since they went their separate ways in the 90s. I do feel a little bit bad to be negative about Conception, but I just don’t get their sound and song stylings at all.

        I don’t like the first single. In fact, I absolutely hate it. In looking around to see what other people are feeling about it, I see a whole lot of people that seem to think this is akin to the proverbial second coming of christ, and I just don’t get it. I was thrilled when I found out Roy was back to music, but so far I do not like what they are doing.

        If this is how their music will be on the full EP, count me out. If they release more material later that is similar to this, I am not even interested in hearing it.

        I apologize for the negatives here, but please understand that I am honestly quite crushed at how much I just don’t like this and won’t listen to it again. I got my(and many other’s) dream: Roy back performing, and I feel so down about my opinion of it, but alas it is a true reflection of my thoughts.

      • Francis. permalink
        November 4, 2018 1:32 pm

        @SR Conception is a slow burn. And to be honest the 2 records that are truly worth nowadays are In Your Multitude and Flow.

        They are the Coming of Age records of the band, specially Flow. They have stellar songs and Flow specially has a fully developed sound consistent throughout the entire record, before that the band danced with many different ideas that it needed a one consistent direction to follow, it was sad to see that they disbanded just when they were starting to show their true sound and style. Pink Floyd needed 4 albums of career before releasing Dark Side of the Moon. With this experimental Projects time and constant work is a requierement to fully create the characterstic part that will set them apart from the rest of the experimental projects around.
        In the case of Metal, it took 4 albums too for Therion to bring they characterstic choir vocals that made their signature sound. Sure, you could argue that Lepaca Kliffoth has a few ideas that foreshadow their direction, but it’s the same with Pink Floyd and Echoes in their Meddle record.

        Back to Conception. The first 2 albums have a few songs in there that are nice, but they’re not strong albums at all. It’s funny because I started to like the band with Parallel Minds, but in general the album has a few pits there.

        That being said I love Tore Ostby style of playing guitar. He’s a much more developed and proficient player than Youngblood and a composer with much fresh ideas.
        You need to understand though that in Conception Khan had no input on the songwriting for at least the first 3 albums, he wrote most of the lyrics though starting Parallel Minds.
        But in general it was Ostby leading the project with the rest supporting.

        I’ve never expected a second coming of christ or anything and regarding the 2 songs on the Single I’m on the opposite side of the street, I much preferred the Ballad to the main Song. And both songs have Khan written all over it.
        It sounds just like what Roy wanted to achieve in Poetry for the Poisoned but better implemented. To me that’s a good sign.

        I gave up on Roy’s Power Metal singing days, his body can’t handle that kind of vocal Acrobatics unless he works really hard with a good vocal coach and complements that with some good diet and healthy habits(no smoke, no alcohol, well trained lungs,etc) and unless he’s truly interested in going through that process, we’re not going to see him sing Center of the Universe at the Original Tone.

      • November 5, 2018 5:28 pm

        @Francis,

        Thanks for the further info about Conception, most of which I was not all that familiar with them. You quite obviously have a lot more experience with their music than I do. You mentioning that Tore Østby was more of the leader musically speaking has illuminated a lot of why I have a different opinion than many do about Conception. I don’t find myself appreciating his musical styling like others do, period. But, I have listened to all of their original albums, and of course the single and bonus track that was just released.

        I still stand by what I said, because it is only my opinion and is not in any way intended to offend anyone. Much of what we discuss here boils down to a lot of very subjective opinion, and I would never want to make anyone feel that I am insulting them or their opinion. If I have offended you, or any other readers please accept my sincerest apologies. There are times when the subjective views and opinions we discuss put us at very distant positions in our views, and this happens to be one of those items.

        I simply do not get Conception and what makes them so popular with many fans – overall their music just doesn’t appeal to me, it doesn’t wow me or amaze me. I mostly just find it neat in the original Conception albums to hear what Roy sounded like as a much younger man than he was when I first became familiar with his work with Kamelot. Outside of that novelty factor there isn’t a lot there for me, as Conception’s music just doesn’t resonate or connect with me.

        You mentioned your appreciation for Tore Østby’s guitar work over Thomas Youngblood’s guitar work. This is where the above mentioned subjectivity definitely shows – I prefer Youngblood’s guitar work every day of the week over Tore Østby’s guitar playing. One can argue which is technically better or more proficient, but that’s usually pointless. You prefer one, and I happen to prefer the other. Please note that I have been highly critical of Kamelot’s songwriting as of late, but all members can still play their instruments just fine(their actual technical ability has never been the problem for me).

        Ultimately I am happy Roy found a way to return to something that quite obviously he is great at, but that also brings joy to so many fans. I just wish I could share more fully in that joy. I have accepted that I will never be as fond of the Conception sound as many others are, and that’s ok.

  3. October 31, 2018 2:58 pm

    I was waiting for your review of the new Seventh Wonder album, and while you posted it more than a day or two ago, I am finally able to comment. I hadn’t listened to the album completely and I didn’t want to try to comment without even having listened to the full album yet.

    That being said, I am very tired of so many bands trying to do the concept album. Some bands it works great for, others not so much, and Tiara doesn’t quite do it as a concept album for me. While that’s not a deal breaker by any stretch, I am so weary of concept albums that are only loosely identifiable as a concept album.

    Anyhow, my overall opinion of this album is that I expected more after the amount of time that this album has been in the works. The album isn’t terrible by any means, but I expected something a little bit different. One point of contention for me has nothing to do with the writing, and that is that the production values are a bit lower for me than I expected. The sound just isn’t quite as crisp no matter what I play it on here so I am not certain if it is my equipment or just how the album is, but I suspect the album has something going on that is making me notice things differently.

    For the actual songs, there are some enjoyable songs, and some that kind of miss the mark for me. There is one song in particular, I think it was ‘The Truth’, that left me thinking they channeled Freedom Call circa 2005. I absolutely hate that song, but it is the only one I actively hate. Most of the album to me is just the band going through the motions, and there are some great moments as well as some rather mediocre ones.

    I am of the opinion that SW can do great things, but I just don’t feel like this is their best. With all the delays and the down time between their last album and this one I am surprised it isn’t a bit stronger.

    I will say however, that compared to The Shadow Theory by Kamelot, this is a million light years better. The Shadow Theory is still the same steaming pile of crap it has always been, despite Thomas Youngblood’s attempts to convince the masses that it isn’t a turd. This album has Tommy doing a nice variety of songs and he sounds very comfortable with what is happening – he sounds like himself. That is very very refreshing and appreciated! But, I honestly don’t like the album all that much and I will NOT be purchasing it. There just isn’t enough there for me to want to spend my money on it and it fails to impress me enough to make me open the wallet.

    I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again – Kamelot is frittering away Karevik’s best years by having him perform garbage. If I was in Kamelot and I heard this, I’d be looking for a place to hide my head in shame.

    I also still worry about Karevik’s long term viability with the absolutely ridiculous touring schedule he deals with. Kamelot is seemingly on a mission to run him into the ground.

    All in all, I wouldn’t throw this album in the trash, but it is a pass for me, unfortunately.

    • November 1, 2018 2:19 pm

      The song on Tiara that actually annoys me a little is “Victorious”, it just gets a little too saccharine and shimmery for its own good, there’s not enough heft or hints of thunder anywhere to really get behind it. The verses are solid, but the chorus bothers me for reasons I can’t quite peg still. But the high points were really great, worthy additions to the band’s catalog —- that being said, I agree with you in general about the concept album thing. I think its a mistake for a band to try to cram a grand, epic story into an album, because it makes them have to work with clunky lyrical passages just by virtue of having to move the plot along. Its like in the movies when characters repeat something so obvious regarding the plot that no one in real life would ever utter, it breaks the fourth wall and just comes off as silly.

      Better perhaps to go the mixed media approach if they’re really married to the concept idea? Maybe do a graphic novel or comic Coheed and Cambria style which handles the plot and the music just serves as a soundtrack or narrows in on specific characters interactions. Concept albums are increasingly becoming a rough sell, most fans don’t ever get drawn into the actual storyline, and its hard to pretend to care even if its favorite band (ie Blind Guardian’s Beyond the Red Mirror).

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