Welcome all to curtain call

Kamelot were in that unenviable position of following quite possible one of the finest power metal albums to date, 'The Black Halo'. Is it quite often the case that when a band writes a magnum opus the quality of the material that follows it will always suffer due to it's comparisons with such an album. It is very rare a band can top what is thought to be a career defining album however Kamelot have crafted an album that may not be as grandiose or as epic on the scale of 'The Black Halo', but song for song it's just as good.

'Ghost Opera' is arguably a collection of eleven tunes, gone are the interludes and five minute plus songs in favour of a more tight and concise album that is perhaps easier to digest on the first few listens than its predecessor. The first three tracks are Kamelot at their best, 'Rule the World' contains one of the band's finest riffs and the title track is genuinely dramatic with it's powerful orchestration behind the fast paced rhythm, and Human Stain is a dark upbeat tune that seems as a genuine attempt at progression by the Florida based quintet.

Whatever you opinions on orchestration and the vast array of instruments incorporated into metal, it's not difficult to be impressed by the way Kamelot have interwoven the metal with the classical. It's tasteful without taking away the very thing that makes them a metal band unlike bands such as Rhapsody of Fire. The riffs of Thomas Youngblood still cut through the mix as does the solid drumming of Casey Grillo. It's a testament to the polished production job of Sascha Paeth and Miro of how they have managed to integrate all the instruments together in a way that works beautifully especially on 'Love you to Death'. I must point out however that the production is almost identical to 'The Black Halo' which is a good thing in many respects because if it ain't broke then don't fix it, however a slight alteration in the guitar tone and drum sound would've given 'Ghost Opera' its own identity rather than being 'the album that followed 'The Black Halo'.

I fear that this will be a reaction adopted by many fans because as good as it is, it doesn't stand apart from the past four Kamelot albums, which is great news if you don't want them to change at all, but bad news if you want to see any kind of progression in sound and approach. The band obviously try to push a few boundaries, as mentioned earlier 'The Human Stain' is a step forward as is 'Mourning Star' but that's it as far as the risks go. The only real sense of moving forward is the increased used of other instruments, 'Ghost Opera' is an album that has pushed the band's orchestration as far as it can go however it could be a little too much for some palates no matter how good it all sounds.

Song for song though, 'Ghost Opera' is impressive. The first six tracks are all high in quality and the token ballad 'Anthem' is also strong. The other tracks are your normal Kamelot fayre which is no bad thing if you're a fan of the band. Thankfully I am a fan of Kamleot and 'Ghost Opera' is an enjoyable finish from start to finish. Even though I may have painted a sub-standard picture of the album, it's just an indication to you readers to expect more of the same which will be good news for the vast majority of Kamelot fans. It's always difficult to follow a great piece of work but Kamelot have achieved it, although not as epic as some of it's predecessors, 'Ghost Opera' is a consistent release and will not disappoint the followers.