In September 2010, very shortly after the release of Poetry for the Poisoned, singer Roy Khan, who had been with the band since 1998, fell seriously ill. Kamelot postponed one major tour and made other performances with guests vocalists. Finally, in April of 2011 Khan announced he would be leaving the band, and Kamelot began to search for a replacement.
In June of 2012, the replacement was announced, and Tommy Karevik (Seventh Wonder) joined the band as the new permanent vocalist. Silverthorn is the Kamelot's return after this significant shake-up and Karevik's debut.
Happily, Karevik's performance on the album is excellent. His voice has excellent tone and a supple, flexible texture, and over the course of the album he is able to demonstrate his impressive range. In the earlier tracks, in particular “Sacrimony,” it almost feels as though he is holding back, attempting to conform his style to Khan's familiar range instead of making the music his own. However, in later tracks he gains confidence, especially with the soaring and ambitious “Tom.”
It is going to be interesting to see how Karevik's addition plays into the evolution of Kamleot. On Silverthorn, it very much comes across as him very respectfully and even tentatively taking on the mantle of the vocalist he is replacing, stepping into the role but not shaking anything up. Once he becomes more comfortable in the role and makes it his own, I expect good things.
Overall, Silverthorn continues on the path laid out by their last record Poetry for the Poisoned. Kamelot have been steadily moving away from the structures of power metal where they originated (though elements still remain, especially in their narrative tendencies). On Silverthorn more than ever, they are also moving away from prog elements into something that is much more straightforwardly gothic, symphonic metal.
It is this drama and darkness that characterizes Silverthorn, all crushed velvet curtains and silver goblets holding red wine so deep it might be blood. The production echoes this, instilling the clear yet far away quality of church bells clanging through fog.
If anything, Silverthorn suffers from coming from a transitional space between the previous incarnation of the band and the new. As the new lineup adjusts, gains confidence and makes further strides forward into whatever their future may bring, I expect their next effort will trade this tentative and delicate exploration of familiar territory for something bolder.
(released October 30, 2012 on SPV Records)