Kamelot - Epica (2003)



Looking back at the discography of symphonic gothic metal band Kamelot, they have clearly outdone themselves with each and every album. For those of you who are not familiar with their work, they have a total of nine incredible full length studio albums, each with their own unique story and instrumentation. If I had to choose one album that really sticks out from the rest of the albums, I would have to say their 2003 album, entitled "Epica," would be it.

After the short introduction track comes one of the most astonishing songs you'll ever hear. The title is "Center Of The Universe." You are immediately hit with powerful guitar riffs filled with melodic energy as fast relentless drumming flows behind them. This is all accompanied epic synth tones running up and down the scale. This is where you're gonna want to start bobbing your head. Lead singer Roy Khan enters with his soothing power metal vocals pulling you deep into the music. He is joined by a thumping bass line as rapid guitars are blasting away with tons of distortion. The refrain is what really consumes you into the track. Its catchy lyrics and exciting melody will have you singing along the first time you hear it. The guitar riffs in the background have an uplifting tone to them. The structure to the track is just fantastic. Later you will run into a magnificent guitar solo that will completely sweep you off your feet. Meanwhile the cymbals are crashing and the double bass is pounding away at you. This is definitely a song that you're going to want to replay often. It's definitely considered one of their classics.

The next couple of track start out a little heavier. "Farewell" has got some aggressive riffs right of the bat. Head banging is your only option. The instruments slow down while the verse kicks in as soft strings play quick little melodies in the background. About half way through the verse enters the monstrous guitar riffs and deep bass lines. The drums just keep pounding away throughout the song. You're gonna be hooked with the catchy lyrics in the refrain. Khans' vocal delivery is just marvelous in this track. His jumping from low to high notes is most impressive, especially when he makes it all flow together so well. "The Edge Of Paradise" is another energetic track that begins with symphonic string mixed with heavily distorted guitars. The verse is delivered with slow soothing vocals as the guitars continue to chug away. This all builds up to the uplifting refrain. The strings in the background are mellow yet surround the rest of the instruments as they hypnotize you deeper into the song. The end has an interesting bridge which consists of melodic chanting that will definitely catch your ear. This goes right back into the chorus as it repeats one last time.

The great thing about this album is how it slowly moves from fast upbeat tempos to slow ballads. "Wander" is the soft ballad that will take your breath away. The chorus in this track has so much going on meanwhile you can't help but sing along to the catchy vocals that Khan displays. Angelic piano notes float in the background as blaring guitars get slammed to the beat of the drums. Tons of cymbals splash alongside the guitars adding more passion to the music. "Descent Of The Archangel" is similar with its gentle verses of beautiful lyrics and ravishing strings. blaring guitars take over in the refrain as Khan soars over the drums and bass. There is also some soft piano notes that enter and carry into the next verse that give off gorgeous tones. After hearing this four and a half minute masterpiece you'll be wishing it were longer.

Later in the album you'll run across the song "On The Coldest Winter Night." The song is beautiful and quite calm as the lead instrument is an acoustic guitar. Although he's been showing off his voice throughout the whole album, this is where Khan really steps forward to shine. While angelic notes softly in the background, the vocals lay gentle on top pulling you deep into the music. The strings during the refrain add so much feeling to the mix as the vocal hum behind them. The little acoustic solo towards the end really tops it off. This is definitely you don't want to miss skip. As it fades you are hit with "Lost And damned" which starts out with slow drums that fade in softly. Eventually echoing guitars come blasting there way through with a wild melodic solo. What a great way to start off a song. The structure is similar to some of the earlier songs as the verse are soft with lower vocal pitch as the chorus builds up with heavy double bass pedaling and constant guitar chugging as the vocals lift an octave or two. If you love guitar solos than this is the song for you. You'll find a couple of areas where the lead guitar goes off and completely destroys the musical scales.

After hearing it all the way you will be blown away with the performance on this album. "Epica" has got everything from symphonic strings and mind blowing guitar work to slow beautiful ballads and calm soothing vocals. It's got it all. And while Kamelot has never let us down with any of their albums before, it'll be interesting to see where they go next!

9.5/10

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