(2012) Kamelot – Silverthorn: Anniversary Special

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The first album a band releases after a vocalist change is a very tricky one, as it will most likely determine their future success. In such cases, it is not just a matter of staying the course, but also changing the sound just enough to accommodate the new singer’s voice and making sure the public accepts the new member. During the last decade, we saw countless line-up changes happen in established bands and we heard many such albums, a great number of which have already become staples of the scene or landmarks in the respective band’s discography. But few were more anticipated than “Silverthorn,” the album KAMELOT released following Roy Khan’s surprising departure from the band a year earlier. Tommy Karevik’s debut with the acclaimed American symphonic power metal unit was released on October 26, 2012, via Steamhammer/SPV.

With many, if not all, of the songs having been written for Roy Khan’s voice, Tommy Karevik’s options were extremely limited as he could only sing them as Khan would have and not showcase much else of what he could actually do (much in the same vein as Anette Olzon in NIGHTWISH‘s “Dark Passion Play”). He was later able to explore on 2015’s “Haven and to some extent on 2018’s “The Shadow Theory,” but since “Silverthorn” was his first output with KAMELOT, many of the fans got the very wrong impression that Karevik was only a Khan carbon copy and dismissed the album (and the new singer) on that premise alone. The critics, on the other hand, were really impressed and praised his performance. No matter how you look at it, “Silverthorn” is much more than just a bridge album between two eras of the band, being actually a pivotal moment in the band’s career as they gained so much more momentum and popularity since then, in part due to Tommy Karevik holding his own during the live performances which ultimately convinced people he’s worth his salt.   

Getting back to the album itself, “Silverthorn” is a dark, somber, and theatrical record that tells the story of a 19th-century family grieving the loss of their daughter, Jolee. No stranger to concept records himself, having released the much acclaimed “Mercy Falls” (2008) with his other band SEVENTH WONDER, Tommy Karevik quickly delved into the story, giving a riveting and emotional performance, especially evident on such tracks as “Song for Jolee” or “Falling like a Fahrenheit” alongside AMARANTHE’s Elize Ryd. His theatricality comes into play in tracks like “My Confession,” where he is accompanied by string quartet EKLIPSE, lead single “Sacrimony (Angel of Afterlife),” which also features Elize Ryd and Alissa White-Gluz (ARCH ENEMY), as well as the almost 9-minute epic, “Prodigal Son.” On the other hand, “Ashes to Ashes,” “Solitaire,” and “Veritas” benefit greatly from his more powerful and resounding vocals, thus making the album into a very varied affair.

Musically, the album has a very rich sonic pallet that ranges from orchestral to dramatic and from dark and moody to their trademark symphonic power metal sound, showing a great return to form after the somewhat lackluster “Poetry for the Poisoned” (2010), though still not quite on par with such iconic albums as the trio “Karma” (2001), “Epica” (2003), and “The Black Halo” (2005). The choir, the guest vocals, and the variety of instrumentals used make the album’s soundscape that much more expansive and lavish, but without ever sounding convoluted. Take, for example, “My Confession” or “Falling like a Fahrenheit,” where the added cello and violin lines only enhance the drama of the lyrics, while the choir of voices that pops us every now and again (especially on the title track) add depth and nuance to the music. The straightforward power metal numbers like “Veritas” or “Torn” turned out to be excellent live numbers that got the crowd excited while the single featuring with both Elize and Alissa quickly became not just a fan favorite but a staple of any KAMELOT live experience ever since.

On paper all this sounds very appealing and exciting – excellent lead vocals, excellent instrumental sections, plenty of guest musicians to spice things up – but the truth of the matter is that “Silverthorn” is a very safe album as if KAMELOT were doing a by-the-numbers –type of album applying all their past expertise and giving the fans plenty of their true-and-tested formula to keep them happy. That is the purpose of this album and while “Silverthorn” achieves it wonderfully, it doesn’t do much more than that – checking all the essential boxes in a controlled environment. But, as the inside joke goes, KAMELOT cannot write a bad album even if they tried to, as both “Silverthorn” and the aforementioned “Poetry for the Poisoned” are still above-average albums. Actually “Silverthorn” is a really great and highly consistent album and, as I mentioned before, an important moment in KAMELOT’s history as it marked the beginning of the band’s post-Khan era, which, 10 years later, we can say is a rather successful one.   

Written by Andrea Crow

Tracklist

1. Manus Dei
2. Sacrimony (Angel Of Afterlife)
3. Ashes To Ashes
4. Torn
5. Song For Jolee
6. Veritas  
7. My Confession
8. Silverthorn
9. Falling Like The Fahrenheit
10. Solitaire
11. Prodigal Son
12. Continuum

Lineup

Tommy Karevik – vocals

Thomas Youngblood – guitars

Sean Tibbetts – bass

Oliver Palotai – keyboards, orchestrations

Casey Grillo – drums, percussion

Label

Steamhammer/SPV

Links

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