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Sunday, 17 May 2015

Reviews: Kamelot, Cain's Offering, Mammoth Mammoth

Kamelot: Haven (Napalm)

Haven is Kamelot's second album with new singer Tommy Karevik who first featured on Silverthorn which brought back the symphonic/progressive style of their early years while also maintaining the more progressive style that featured on the latter albums with former singer Khan. Having been underwhelmed with my initial viewing of the bands live show at Hammerfest, but having always loved them on record. I will admit I was a bit hesitant about this new album of all new material, however any doubts are quickly washed away by the plaintive piano intro to Fallen Star before the strings sweep in and Thomas Youngblood's guitar takes up the baton, he is the major part of Kamelot's sound and his interplay with keyboardist Oliver Palotai is what thei band have made their name on, his riffing is unrelenting  and his solos never outstay their welcome like a flash of brilliance in every song. The doom laden Fallen Star moves in to Insomnia which could have easily come off the band's breakthrough Ghost Opera album driven by Sean Tibbett's low bottom end, Casey Grillo's driving drums and of course Youngblood's guitars. As is usual with most major power/symphonic metal albums the production comes from Sascha Paeth and mix from Jacob Hansen so everything is crisp and sharp allowing the bands talents to shine through. Once again Karevik shows off his amazing vocals moving between a low croon and a dramatic highs on all of the tracks, he once again shows himself to be the perfect replacement for Khan by having a similar operatic delivery to his predecessor meaning he fits in perfectly. Silverthorn was a Gothic more romantic album, (something that has always run through Kamelot's music) but this album is heavier and more dynamic than their previous effort relying more on the guitar work of Youngblood and Palotai's theatrical keys and orchestrations was witnessed on the thrilling Veil of Elysium which powers along at a fair pace. As with most Kamelot albums they have the odd helper to contribute to the sound, on the folk balladry of Under Grey Skies they have Delain's Charlotte Wessels and Nightwish's Troy Donockley and once again Arch Enemy's Alissa White-Gluz adds her growls and indeed vocals to Liar Liar (Wasteland Monarchy) and Revolution. No matter what I think of Kamelot live (next time they are anywhere near I may give them another chance) their talent and magic lies in their recorded output and yet again they have struck gold with Haven. 9/10

Cain's Offering: Stormcrow (Frontiers)

The first Cain's Offering album was released in 2009 shortly after main man Jani Liimatainen left Finish power metal veterans Sonata Arctica, it was an album full of love songs performed in a power metal style. Happily then they have returned with their second album which is still an album that deals with love, relationships and isolation, played in the style that Liimatainen and indeed the other musicians he has recruited are known for. These musicians are a relatively unknown rhythm section that bring the rampant drumming and bass work this kind of power metal are known from, he has also yet again acquired the services of Stratovarius men Jens Johansson and Timo Kotipelto. Johansson's keys provides a perfect foil for Liimatainen's guitar, as well as the orchestral swells that give this album a cinematic sense on the title track and an almost electro-pop feel on The Best Of Times. Timo Kotipelto is one of the best vocalists in the business and he shows this time and time again on this album except on the instrumental I Am Legion. He has a powerful set of pipes and one of the most emotive voices in metal, see the ballads on this album like To Tired To Run which needs to be on film score and even rockers like Constellation Of Tears and the fantastic I Will Build You A Rome which has all the slushy romance of a pop song set to a rapid backing and is the kind of song Liimatainen's previous band would kill for! Yet another excellent album from this power metal supergroup with the best elements of Stratovarius and Sonata Arctica thrown together with and played with passion and technical expertise. 9/10  

Mammoth Mammoth: IV: Hammered Again (Napalm)

Mammoth Mammoth are the Australian love child of Motorhead and Monster Magnet with a punk rock edge on Lookin' Down A Barrell and a drug reference filled stoner stomp on Fuel Injected. The four piece band play dirty scuzzy rock and roll with a bollocks to you attitude, with a rhythm section that is like a runaway train, some choppy four on the floor guitar playing, slicing solos and shouted vocals Mammoth Mammoth are the soundtrack to an all night bender. Still as the album rolls on very little changes in regard to style or indeed speed, with only Promised Land having a more doom-like feel, but if you want music to drive and drink beer to (not at the same time please) and you love bands like Motorhead, Mustasch and indeed the punk n roll of The Wildhearts; Sick (Of Being Sick),  then you could do much worse than Mammoth Mammoth. 6/10  

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