KAMELOT returned to Helsinki on April 13th, 2010, perhaps to celebrate the album they’ll be releasing in the fall, or maybe to celebrate 2007’s “Ghost Opera.” With them came a new group from Sweden, AMARANTHE, and classic Norwegian Viking metallers, LEAVES’ EYES.
I’m a big fan of both KAMELOT and LEAVES’ EYES, and I’d also never seen either of them live before (my part of Canada isn’t yet big on the metal touring stops), so I really wanted to be present for this event. AMARANTHE was unknown to me, but had at least piqued my interest.
I was late to arrive due to prior engagements, and I had the feeling that I’d somehow be disappointed about missing AMARANTHE‘s set. I was right, as the last few songs I caught sounded really interesting – poppy and energetic, yet still pretty metal. I did encounter their merch guys though, who convinced me to buy the band’s single for an affordable 2€, which I did. After listening, I immediately loved it, and I hope to get the chance to see these guys live again soon, perhaps after they release their debut album.
LEAVES’ EYES hasn’t come to Finland very often, from what I can tell. Hailing from Norway and featuring one of the original legendary female metal voices, Liv Kristine, and combines her sweet, powerful sound with the growls of her husband, Alexander Krull. If I’m being honest though, in equal parts, I adore Kristine and am completely unimpressed with Krull‘s vocals, and always have been. There was no change to that live.
Kristine took the stage in a satiny-looking medieval-style corseted dress, and her voice was spot on, her presence powerful and engaging. She flows with the music and looks pretty, and captivates the audience at the same time. While the “beauty and the beast” vocals helps elevate LEAVES’ EYES beyond the basic female-fronted band, Krull was a bit problematic on stage, as mentioned. On one hand, his growls have always seemed weak to me, as though they are done by someone who doesn’t really actually know how to growl. As well, he didn’t have the stage presence Kristine had – seeing as how he doesn’t sing all that often, he lacked something to do on stage. He was really into the music, but came across as trying too hard to get the crowd revved up. He could stand to relax a bit, and perhaps pay more attention to the rest of the band (he bumped into bassist Alla Fedynitch more than once).
As for the rest of the band, Sander van der Meer was a delight to watch, and must certainly be the metal-band crush of many a lady (or dude). He has those Norwegian good looks and a “serious guitarist” vibe, and just looked cool. Fedynitch seemed really lost in the music, and it was nice to see a woman in a metal band not only as a vocalist – still sadly rare these days. Thorsten Bauer‘s (guitar) shredding was sublime and Roland Navratil proved himself to be an excellent percussionist, as well as drummer.
The only real disappointment for me, however, was the setlist. There were only a few songs that I recognized, like “My Destiny” and “Elegy.” Alas, as much as I adored the band’s first two albums, and while “Njörd” still had some good material, it was a bit mainstream compared to the earlier albums. Naturally, with that being the newest album, most of the songs were from it. In spite of this though, it was great to get a chance to finally see them and I hope to have another opportunity soon.
And then there is KAMELOT. What can I say? The crowd loves Roy Khan, and King Khan loves them back. I had somehow expected him to be stuck-up on stage, but I was way off. He is one of the most crowd-friendly vocalists I’ve seen, getting down on their level, shaking hands, and when he spoke, he was so open and kind, making the listeners feel like he really just loves what he’s doing and everyone who supports it. His attire also supported the band’s vibe, though he looked furiously warm on stage, sweating bullets in all his heavy black velvety-looking coat under the lights. One minor critique though, would be that he tends to kneel or crouch a lot, which is fine if you’re up near the stage, but if you’re in the back, it’s a bit of a bummer that the vocalist vanishes fairly regularly.
They opened up with “Ghost Opera” and “EdenEcho” from the former’s eponymous album from 2007. Their upcoming album won’t be out until after the summer, but they did treat us to two new songs, “The Great Pandemonium” and “Hunter’s Season,” building some hype for autumn. Khan‘s voice was surreal and so powerful. KAMELOT classics like “The Haunting” (which featured Elize Ryd and Jake E. of AMARANTHE on guest vocals) really came to life on stage.
The rest of the band was given the spotlight as well, as everyone had a solo during the show. Thomas Youngblood (guitar) and Sean Tibbets (bass) were fun to watch running around on stage, jumping on the amps, high-fiving the crowd, and generally looking like they were having the time of their lives. Oliver Palotai had two keyboards, one of which was on a swivel to give him the freedom to move around a bit. Drummer Casey Grillo was also impressive, with a wild-looking drum kit. The band’s chemistry on stage was great – they seem like a good team.
Ryd made a few more appearances with KAMELOT, once as a belly-dancer and once in the first encore donning a white cloak and dancing with some roses. The band ended the main set with the 2001 classic, “Forever,” which involved Khan playing the “repeat my vocal solo” game, resulting in an epic fail from the crowd – very entertaining. They then finished up with a massive double encore, returning as the tape played “Interlude II.” They then played “The Black Halo,” “Memento Mori,” “Season’s End,” and “Karma” before leaving the stage once more and then returning yet again for the song everyone wanted to hear: “March of Mephisto.”
All of these bands are definitely worth keeping an eye on, and I’d recommend checking them all out given the chance. The night was full of energy, great music, and awesome performances. I’ll certainly be waiting for KAMELOT‘s set at Tuska later this year, that’s for sure!
1. Ghost Opera
3. The Great Pandemonium
4. The Human Stain
5. Center of the Universe
7. The Pendulous Fall
8. When the Lights are Down
9. The Haunting (Somewhere in Time)
10. Hunter’s Season
11. Rule the World
Intro: Interlude II – Un Assassinio Molto Silenzioso
13. The Black Halo
14. Memento Mori
15. Season’s End
17. March of Mephisto
Written by Bear Wiseman