KAMELOT – Ghost Opera

KAMELOT - Ghost Opera
  • 7.5/10
    KAMELOT - Ghost Opera - 7.5/10


Release date: June 1, 2007

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Creating a successor to their masterpiece The Black Halo must have been a tough job. Norwegian Power Metal heroes Kamelot have managed several times before to come up with an even better album to their last, and all the while they never released a bad one. But, everything culminated in the two “Faust”-inspired works (the other one is Epica), which are among the best Power Metal albums ever produced. Roy Khan has become better with each album, and especially the live performances have become the archetype for a perfect blend of heaviness and melody in their musical Metal niche (see here: One Cold Winter’s Night).

Already in Spring 2007, Kamelot toured Europe without having released the album. They played three tracks live and the audience reacted with more than polite applause. So has Ghost Opera kicked The Black Halo from the throne and is the best Kamelot album to date?

Well, best to take a look at the album track by track:

1. “Solitaire“
The intro is one minute of violin … uh … well, it’s an intro. Nothing more, nothing less.

2. “Rule The World“
Listening to the opener of an album always creates expectations or prejudices, as much as a first glimpse at a human being decides about a general sympathy or antipathy. In direct comparison to “March Of Mephisto” or “Center Of The Universe,” this track comes in third. But, it is by no means a bad song, it is merely that the other two are absolute masterpieces. Here, Oriental melodies blend nicely with a Symphonic keyboard; Khan’s voice seems to become better with time, and the track is overall very enjoyable. The guitar work is slightly too simple, it seems the keyboardist Oliver Palotai, having been integrated into the band as a permanent member, has influenced songwriting considerably. At the same time, one is confronted with a new guitar sound that is very atypical for Kamelot as it sounds very, very modern. It takes time to get used to. Score: 9.0

3. “Ghost Opera”
Yes, this is Kamelot! Fast, Symphonic, a great refrain, and wonderful guitar work. And, with Mr. Khan on top of his creative career. Nothing more to say. Score: 10.0

4. “The Human Stain”
This track begins very atypical to Power Metal, with a heavy bass and Alternative influences. It would not have been necessary to slow down the pace already after the first two songs, but they do it well. The keyboards are a bit simple, while some Conception comparisons come to mind. Oh, and the female choir sounds suspiciously like the last two Farmer Boys albums. Score: 8.0

5. “Blücher”
This mid tempo track – again – could be a leftover from old Conception days. Seems to be the handwriting of Roy Khan, but that is not a bad thing. Did he also come up with the strange instrument sounding like a French Horn, or was that Oliver’s idea? Everything leads to a very melodic chorus, and the only time the track strays from the expectable path is before the solo, when a Doomy part seems just not to fit into the frame of the song. A note on the title: Most everybody was mislead by the title, as it seems to NOT refer to the Prussian commander (1742 to 1819) who turned fortunes at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. Instead, in the beginning you’ll hear engine sounds and someone saying Jawoll, Herr Kapitän, which is German for Yes, Captain. But “Kapitän” in German refers to the commander of a ship, so the story is likely to be about the Heavy Cruiser Blücher, which was attacked and sunk on April 9th, 1940, in a fjord near Oslo, Norway during the so called “Unternehmen Weserübung,” the invasion of Norway by Wehrmacht forces. If someone has additional knowledge, please share it through the “comment“ function with everybody else. Score: 6.5

6. “Love You To Death”
Ballads were always an essential part of any Kamelot album, and Ghost Opera is no exception. This one is a bombastic song with a substantial amount of female vocals and very tragic lyrics. Only the guitar sound seems foreign and will not fit into the total production, which is exceptionally apparent in this song. This is the longest track on the album at slightly over five minutes. Score: 7.0

7. “Up Through The Ashes”
Another bombastic track with some Gothic influences that shows all the trademarks of the album style: midtempo, simple, modern guitarwork, and lots of keyboards, which are overwhelming in the chorus, and a slightly boring slower middle part. Sorry, not up to Kamelot’s normal standards. Score: 5.0

8. “Mourning Star”
On an album that was not too heavy on the guitar side so far, this track at least sports some audible riffing. Khan’s voice is altered by some effects, which seem a waste considering that he is one of the top singers in Metal, and also several layers of female vocals are added to the chorus. Nice, but all know a lot of bands where that would be more helpful than here. Maybe Mrs. Youngblood will have more work to do on the next tour? Score: 6.0

9. “Silence Of The Darkness”
Finally, another typical Kamelot track as it was expected! The lead guitar sound is typical Youngblood again, how refreshing. Although they pick up a few things encountered before – vocal effects, Conception similarities, and the overall different guitar work – this track sticks out also because it picks up pace during its course and includes the fastest part of the whole album. The solo is played by Oliver on keyboards instead of the typical guitar solo. This will be a great piece live. Score: 8.0

10. “Anthem”
Surprise! “Love You To Death” was not the mandatory Kamelot ballad; this one is. And, what a great song it is! One can already see Roy in the spotlight singing this song during the coming gigs. There is not much to say, but this track has to be set side by side with “Don’t You Cry” and “Wander.” Somehow the background choir induces a strange Wizard Of Oz feeling. Score: 9.5

11. “Eden Echo“
Starting like a Savatage piece, Kamelot manage to make this another song with all their typical marks. Unfortunately, the guitar sound seems more out of place than it did on any other track. The short middle part is in a ¾ beat, then comes another speedy part, but through the whole song one feels reminded of the Epica bonus track “Snow” in melody, riffing, and structure of the composition. Score: 6.0

12. “The Pendulous Fall” (Bonus Track)
After a piano intro and female background vocals, this is again a typical Kamelot composition. Well done, with a beautiful guitar solo that unfortunately is very short. Score: 7.0
In contrast to the other Kamelot albums, the band has experimented more and changed their sound – not apparent to the new listener, but old fans of the band will probably have their problems with Ghost Opera. The increased female vocals, the rather simple riffing and the opulence in keyboards making this the most bombastic album to date, may be difficult to digest at first. Also, the unusual guitar sound makes the work stand out of the band’s catalogue. But one has to ask if the album would not have become too mellow without this modern sound that sets a counterpoint to the other easy-to-swallow instrumentations? The band seems to be in the transition phase from Power Metal to Bombastic Goth, the next album will prove that right or wrong. One thing is sure: The album is a grower. If someone listens to it for the first time, disappointment may be big. But, Ghost Opera grows with every spin, and in the end is quite a good album, without being able to better the last three (or four?) albums, though.

But, one more point of criticism… no, anger… has to be mentioned: While the artwork is excellent, the booklet is annoying. The lyrics are almost unreadable, being written in an old fashioned font and in small type! It is a impertinence to sell this to the longing fans who want to read and feel with the songs. An album like this is a work in its totality, and downloads will not be fought by annoying the fans.

The limited edition includes a DVD with the video to the title track and a making of of the video. Nice, but not essential.


  • Frank Jaeger

    Frank was a reviewer here at Metal Express Radio, based out of Bavaria, Germany. He has worked in the games industry for more than 20 years, now on the manufacturing side, before on the publishing end. Before this, he edited and handled the layout for a city mag in northern Germany ... maybe that is why he love being part of anything published. Frank got hooked on Metal at the age of 14 when a friend introduced him to AC/DC. They were listening to The Beatles, Madness, and The Police, and he decided they should move on. Well, they did, Back in Black became Frank's first Metal album, and since Germany is reasonably close to England, they had some small New Waves Of British Heavy Metal washing up on their shores: Tygers Of Pan Tang, Samson, Gillan, Iron Maiden, Saxon, Sweet Savage, Diamond Head, etc. If he had to pick his favorite styles, Prog and Power Metal would be at the top of the list.

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