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KAMELOT – Poetry for the Poisoned

  • Review by: Ishaan Kumar

Yes, it is that rare year again, when power metal giants Kamelot release a new sonic storybook. This time it has been titled ‘Poetry for the Poisoned’. As a band that delivered additive brilliance with every successive release, the expectation from a new effort is of gargantuan proportions. Fortunately, their track record with failing to impress is extremely poor.

The album begins with yet another silent but subliminally heavy intro to a soon-to-become rich epic. ‘The Great Pandemonium’ features Bjorn ‘Speed’ Strid of Soilwork on guest vocals along with Kamelot’s crooner extraordinaire, Roy Khan. As a song, it is a rich selection of riffs that create a consistently epic soundscape, complete with the Middle Eastern feel that ‘Rule the World’ from Ghost Opera had with the keyboards dancing artfully around the string riffs. But there also seems to be a new-found spring in the band’s step. The rhythmic choices have become more daring throughout the album, the writing has advanced a few notches higher than that found on the previous release Ghost Opera and yet has not reached the point where the technique totally bastardizes the mood.

The experimentation is a glaring factor on this album. ‘If Tomorrow Came’ features a hyperfast series of riffs fused with slower and widely-spaced tempos, ‘The Zodiac’ is a more theatrical tune with an emphasis on the emotion of loss and ‘House on a Hill’ is the quintessential Kamelot ballad but is also an experiment with heaviness of mood through heaviness of harmonics. The other big experiment on this album is the title track ‘quadrology’ (for want of a better word). Instead of having a mega opus, Kamelot broke the track ‘Poetry for the Poisoned’ into 4 Acts. Each act is of varying length and serve more as the chapters of a book, where the duration decides the impact on the listener. Every song has a different mood to it but they all seem to have a centralized theme of knowledge and its impact on the human mind.

There are a few experiments also with environmental and dialogue sounds. For example, the commentary on the Incubus on ‘Poetry for the Poisoned Act 1: Incubus’. There is also the filler track ‘Dear Editor’ which is entirely almost a film soundtrack with no music. It features a digitized voice introducing himself to an ‘editor’ as The Zodiac, most probably a direct reminder of the infamous Zodiac murders in the United States during the 1970s-1980s, the identity of the killer having still not been discerned.

Each and every track on this album tells a small story and adds to the bigger ‘book’ that the album represents and embodies. The songs are heavy both in sound and in emotional content and sound very relevant. Lyrically, this album truly is poetry. But anything poisonous about it? Definitely not. Another brilliant work of art by Kamelot.