KAMELOT Mainman Talks 'My Confession' Video, New Album Success - "What I Really Wanted To Do With Silverthorn Was To Have A Story, A Tragedy"
July 20, 2013, a year ago
Special report by Maria Nayef
Silverthorn, the tenth studio album by symphonic metal icons KAMELOT, can be described as a beautiful mystery – one you unravel a little piece of each time you hear it. Eight months after its release Kamelot have revealed their second video 'My Confession', directed by Ivan Colic. It follows the award-winning video 'Sacrimony (Angel of Afterlife)' and features Germany’s all-female string quartet EKLIPSE. 'My Confession' showcases the emphasis Kamelot placed on melody on Silverthorn and features poignant lyrics and a rousing guitar solo, the song aptly accompanied by dark, gothic imagery. Once more, frontman Tommy Karevik’s arresting presence and charismatic movements are a standout.
“When we shot the video to 'Sacrimony' we worked with Ivan down in Serbia who did Ghost Opera and The Human Stain,” recalls Kamelot’s founder and guitarist Thomas Youngblood. “A lot of the movements that Roy (Khan) had done then had come from Ivan, who is absolutely amazing when it comes to coaching the singers as well as everybody else in the band. When we introduced Ivan to Tommy, Tommy was just blown away by him and they had a really good rapport for the 'Sacrimony' video. Also, in the new video, you’ll see how Ivan has been able to bring out the more dominant side of Tommy’s personality.”
Silverthorn, a concept album based on an original story by Kamelot about a young girl called Jolee, is an exquisite musical and artistic composition. The intro, Manus Dei and outro, Continuum, encompass ten songs of symphonic symmetry, each rich with melody and passion. It is the standout album of Kamelot’s career and proves that not all is lost when a band’s frontman decides to depart after 14 years at the helm; not even one as formidable as Roy Khan.
There was a silver lining on the dark cloud of disquiet that hovered over Kamelot at the time of Khan’s abrupt departure in 2010 in the form of Tommy Karevik of Swedish progressive metal band SEVENTH WONDER. He had caught the attention of Youngblood and was asked to join the band as a guest vocalist on Kamelot’s Pandemonium tour. After Kamelot had shortlisted five vocalists and it was time to choose their new frontman, it was Karevik’s talent for writing lyrics and vocal melodies as well as his superlative singing abilities that ultimately landed him the coveted position. It is one he has now held, and garnered much praise for, for one year, but Youngblood says it’s a different Karevik that fans see on stage fronting Kamelot today.
“I think that since he became the official vocalist of the band this kind of confidence has come out in him and to be honest with you, we weren’t really sure how people were going to react to him because when we did the tour with Fabio (Lione), Tommy came out for a couple of songs and I think that he was a little bit more subdued then. But from our first show with Tommy at the Masters of Rock festival in the Czech Republic, where we played for 30,000 people, he totally kicked ass. He took over, which is exactly what I wanted, and from that point he’s really taken this whole thing on, and I think it’s because of the way he feels the music,” Youngblood says.
Karevik’s genuine connection to past Kamelot songs is evident in his live performances where he delivers each one with both the emotion and respect they command, and on Kamelot’s recent tour of Australia, each song was met with deafening approval and rapturous applause from the audience. From anthems such as March of Mephisto and Forever, to the poignant EdenEcho and Song for Jolee, Karevik showcased his flawless vocals and dynamic stage presence.
Although both the story and songs of Silverthorn are laced with tragedy and darkness, they are also underlined with hope and touch on issues such as letting go of the past and taking control of one’s fate. The songs are both melancholy and uplifting – two emotions that Kamelot made a conscious effort to juxtapose on the album.
“It’s something that I think we missed on Poetry For The Poisoned,” reflects Youngblood. “Poetry was mostly a dark record that I don’t think had any release at the end. What I really wanted to do with Silverthorn was to have a story, a tragedy, and of course, there are things you also learn: you learn about yourself and the human nature of how people are – but at the end of this record there is some sort of hope, and we wanted the record to be uplifting in the end with the outro. It's kind of like a nice feeling of, 'OK, this is this record, this is the last song, it’s continual and it sort of opens this door to go back to the past,' you know?"
After the spoken verse of Manus Dei, Silverthorn erupts into a spectacular piece of music, which is the intro to Sacrimony. “I always like to open the record with something pushy and kind of up-tempo,” says Youngblood. “You know it’s sort of a normal feeling psychologically, to look at the songs and go ‘OK, this is really a map of how the record should be’ and of course, when it comes to the story it’s also important that certain songs are in a certain order. On Silverthorn it was kind of clear though. Once we decided the first song was going to be Sacrimony everybody pretty much agreed which songs were going to come next. And for me it’s really important that the music on a record has some sort of pacing to it. The Black Halo was a bit of an exception because it opened with a slow song, which was something that I wasn’t sure was going to work, but I guess in hindsight, it did.”
Karevik wrote most of the lyrics and vocal melodies for Silverthorn, something Youngblood welcomed – music being his passion, he prefers to leave the lyrics to others. “I’ve written lyrics for Kamelot in the past but I just don’t have any kind of lust for it. I love writing music, I love coming up with ideas, song titles, ideas for the songs themselves and subject matter, but when it comes to lyrics it's just not something I have an interest in doing, so having somebody like Tommy come into the band, his first record, and really writing these amazing lyrics with Sascha (Paeth) our producer helping, was just amazing to me and it really made a big difference. I was really blown away by the lyrics on this record – they were just amazing. I would read them and then I’d hear the melodies and when Song for Jolee was sent to me I was like: ‘this is it, this is the guy’.”
The lyrics are indeed powerful on Silverthorn in the sense of the imagery they invoke, and combined with the record’s rich melodic tones and orchestrations, it is a feast for the soul and the intellect – not surprising when one considers Kamelot’s back catalogue. In a world where music and literature are increasingly being dumbed down as people’s attention spans become shorter, Kamelot have managed to produce a work of art that is original, imaginative and mysterious.
“I think the bigger trick in producing something like that is to have it so that it’s still accessible – not to everyone – but a certain number of people. Of course, the songs could be more progressive, a bit more technical, the lyrics, if we really wanted to go for it, could be more intellectual so to speak, but I think the thing that we’ve been able to do is perfect for us and for our fans, and hopefully it doesn’t go over anybody’s head and isn’t under anybody’s radar,” Youngblood says.
Despite having been around for over two decades, Kamelot is a band that is constantly evolving and reaching new milestones with each record. The line-up change for Silverthorn for instance saw German musician and Kamelot’s keyboardist Oliver Palotai become more involved in the song-writing process. This year also saw Kamelot tour Australia for the first time, where the band was lavished with adoration from fans, and despite Karevik having been frontman for only a year, Kamelot is a band that is evidently close, both on stage and off, and the respect they have for each other as musicians is evident in their live performances. It’s a show where not only the singer and guitarist have the opportunity to showcase their talents, but a drum, bass and keyboard solo also shines the spotlight on the other band members. Kamelot is also greatly connected to its fanbase. They make a concerted effort to get as close to the crowd as possible during their shows and they are also very active on social media, where they frequently interact with fans on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr.
With a new video from their award winning album Silverthorn and an upcoming headlining tour of the US and Europe, the future for Kamelot is indeed a bright one. “We just love what we do,” says Youngblood. “It’s a cliché, but if you find something you love you never have to work in your life. Being on stage is euphoric, and being able to create and to have people respond to that is amazing.”