Written By: Noam Asulin
On March 15, 2005 "Kamelot" released their seventh album "The Black Halo".
I heard "Kamelot" for the first time somewhere during my military service in 2005. It was a time when I formed my taste in music and metal in particular. It was a time when I would still hear relatively soft things like "Evanescence", "Nightwish" and "Edguy" but I was curious to know what else is there in the never-ending album collection.
With this album, I came across it while wandering on Amazon looking for new music and this album appeared there as one of the recommendations. I examined it and a new world of musical richness was revealed to my ears.
"Kamelot" is an American-Swedish power metal band formed in Tampa Florida in 1991, by guitarist Thomas Youngblood and drummer Richard Warner.
The album "The Black Halo" is a concept album that is a direct continuation of the first part of the story told on the band's previous album - "Epica" from 2003. The album is based on a play called "Faust" from the 19th century.
The protagonists of the story are Ariel, whose singing roles are performed by lead singer Roy Khan and whose character is based on Heinrich Faust from the original play, Helena performed by Mari Youngblood - the partner of guitarist Thomas Youngblood and whose character is based on Gretchen from the original play, Mephisto played by Shagrath - lead singer of "Dimmu Borgir", which is the only character left as-is from the original play and Marguerite played by Simone Simons - lead singer of the band "Epica", whose character was inspired by "Helen of Troy" from the original play.
The story of the act begins where the story of the previous album "Epica" ended. Ariel is still mourning Helena's death. He is in complete control of Mephisto, but decides to confront him. During the confrontation, he realizes that love is the ultimate answer to life, and that true love between him and Helena is part of it. This revelation brings him to a moment of utter satisfaction which puts into effect the contract he made with Mephisto, and thus his soul now belongs to the fallen angel and begins to leave his body. But then his beloved Helena prays to God for his soul and God allows him to enter heaven with Helena, while Mephisto is thrown into hell forever (see below the song "Memento Mori").
The first song "March of Mephisto" already starts with high power and includes a collaboration of "Shagrath", with powerful growls. The album as a whole is very theatrical and rich in instruments and drama, which in my opinion conveys the message of a tragic play.
The ballad "Abandoned" is chilling and very moving and includes a guest appearance by Mari Youngblood, and the song "The Haunting (Somewhere in Time)" features a collaboration with Simone Simons.
The band's amazing vocalist Roy Khan adds a lot to the drama and atmosphere, not to mention the spectacular vocal qualities that levitate the album on several levels.
The highlight of the album comes in the song "Memento Mori" which is one of the best power songs I know, if not the best of them all. Sheer pleasure approaching nine minutes. The song begins quietly and slowly, accompanied by keyboards, and slowly amplifies. Even the C-Parts on the album are fun and meaningful, which is something that cannot be said about every album.
The production of the album was done, among other things, by Sascha Paeth, a very well-known Swedish producer who worked with bands like "Edguy" and "Avantasia". Each instrument on this album gets its place and the keyboards give a dramatic vibe and inflate the sound to something grandiose.
In conclusion, this is an amazingly beautiful album performed by talented musicians. In my opinion, this is the ultimate power album and one of the best metal albums ever.