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Kamelot: Where I Reign – The Very Best Of The Noise Years 1995-2003

As with the recent Helloween best of also reviewed on SoT, Where I Reign – The Very Best Of The Noise Years 1995-2003, is part of Napalm Records's re-invigoration of the classic German metal label, Noise. Unlike Helloween, Kamelot are a US band, coming out of Florida, which should give you some sort of indication of how far in the doldrums epic metal was in The US back in the late 80s and early 90s when this band were kickstarting their career. Covering the eight years between 1995 and 2003, this twelve track affair (although there is also a double disc version available that therefore doubles the running length) covers the band's first six albums. Arguably Kamelot really took off right after that with album number seven, The Black Halo, and yet it's hard to argue that this collection isn't crammed with top notch and bombastic metal of a power/symphonic bent.

Based round guitarist Thomas Youngblood, the band released their Eternity debut with Mark Vanderbilt behind the mic and for a singer who hasn't been particularly active since he departed this band, it has to be said that his Geoff Tate like attack is mightily convincing. The opening title cut from that debut may possess what now sounds like a twee keyboard intro, but once the parping has come to a halt, a meaty riff heralds in an early Queensryche like surge of progressively tinged metal. "The Gleeman" from the same album and "Rise Again" from the follow up, Dominion, illustrating the slow evolution Kamelot underwent into a more bombastic, grandiose Iron Maiden like beast. In truth, there may be more obvious selections than these from those albums to really show the true power Kamelot possessed way back then, but this is still top notch fare.

With Vanderbilt departing, ex-Conception frontman Roy Khan took his place and immediately set about dominating the Siége Perilous album, his distinctive wail a huge weapon and one the beefed up sound the band were now employing used to the full. "Where I Reign" may be a slow brooding selection, but "Rhydin" is a mid paced thumper that really would begin to set the tone for what Kamelot were capable of. However it's not until the title track from 1999's "The Fourth Legacy" that the galloping guitars, thunderous drums and layered, controlled vocals would really begin to lay down the sound this band still utilises to this very day. "Until Kingdom Come" romping along with intent to emphasise the point.

The huge stabs of keyboards in "We Are Not Separate" jostle keenly against strident riffs and ever more symphonic vocals as Khan completely reworks an old Vanderbilt led track, the inclusion of this version – a bonus studio track from the live album The Expedition – a nice touch. From there two tracks apiece from 2001's Karma ("Wings Of Despair" and its title cut) and Epica ("The Edge Of Paradise" and "III Ways To Epica") close this compilation out in tremendous style, the Kamelot sound by this stage in their catalogue not only established, but unmistakable.

Few would argue that what has followed from Kamelot hasn't continued to improve upon the template set out here and is therefore, in the main, better than what is contained on this 'best of' – the band even surviving the departure of Khan before 2011's Silverthorn, his replacement, Seventh Wonder's Tommy Karevich doing an outstanding job since. However the opportunity to relive these underrated early years from a band who have gone on to reach the pinnacle of their genre is welcome indeed and with excellent liner notes, this (or more precisely, the two disc version) is definitely the way to do it.

Track Listing
01. Eternity
2. The Gleeman
3. Rise Again
4. Where I Reign
5. Rhydin
6. The Fourth Legacy
7. Until Kingdom Come
8. We Are Not Separate
9. Wings of Despair
10. Karma
11. The Edge of Paradise
12. III Ways to Epica

Added: December 18th 2016
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Kamelot online
Hits: 1815
Language: english

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