Overall Score: 9/10 Special Guests: 10/10 Production: 9/10 Setlist: 8/10 Pros: Flawless production | Brilliantly constructed show | Amazing use of special guests Cons: One or two more "Khan era" songs would have been nice
For those not familiar with Kamelot, the US / Euro power metal stalwarts are among the biggest names in their particular niche of metal. Outside of the arena thrilling skills of Sabaton and the wizardry (pun intended) of veterans Blind Guardian, Kamelot are about as big as it gets in power metal, with a huge fanbase across the world. Having successfully navigated the most dreaded of things for any band – a change in singer, when Tommy Karevik ably stepped into former frontman Roy Khan’s considerably sized shoes over eight years ago, Kamelot are in as good a shape as they have ever been.
This is in full evidence on their new live album and live DVD, I Am The Empire – Live From The 013. Recorded in front of a sold out crowd at the famous venue in Tilburg in the Netherlands in September 2018, shortly after the release of their most recent studio album, The Shadow Theory, I Am The Empire showcases the full power of Kamelot as a live force. While it is likely that the DVD / video version will provide maximum enjoyment levels due to Kamelot’s elaborate and impressive stage production, the audio version is still highly enjoyable on its own.
The setlist is balanced nicely, weighted towards the Karevik era of the band with the last three or four albums, but several old favourites like Rule The World, the always fantastic When The Lights Are Down and the “woooaaahh” inducing Forever are all present and enjoyed fiercely by the Tilburg audience. In Karevik, Kamelot have a rare gift of a frontman – someone who can perform the old material almost note perfectly while still stamping his own style on the tracks, and able to offer some variety on the material written in his time in the band. Equally adept at the balls to the wall, pacey power metal numbers with Thomas Youngblood’s thunderous riffs, or the slower, Oliver Palotai keyboard led ballads, fans of both of Kamelot’s styles will have much to enjoy here.
One of the most adept metal bands of the last twenty years at utilising special guests, several of them make live appearances here, providing numerous highlights of the set in the process. Once Human’s Lauren Hart helps kick off the show in superb fashion alongside Tommy Karevik on Phantom Devine, while Arch Enemy’s Alissa White-Gluz makes the first of several appearances, covering Shagrath’s parts on March Of Mephisto. Alissa returns alongside Amaranthe’s Elize Ryd for the fantastic Sacrimony (Angel Of Afterlife), while the well renown German string quartet Eklipse make an appearance on My Confession. Delain’s Charlotte Wessels provides an effective counterbalance to Tommy Karevik on Under Grey Skies, while the encore beginning Burns To Embrace features a children’s choir that includes Thomas Youngblood’s son in their members. Lastly, and perhaps best of all, Alissa White-Gluz returns to perform double duty on Liar Liar (Wasteland Monarchy), showcasing her different vocal styles in a way that the day job with Arch Enemy doesn’t really allow based on their current material.
As with the best live albums, the crowd involvement and interaction can be heard well, but it doesn’t interfere with or overwhelm the bands’ performance, providing a nice compliment to proceedings and making the listener feel like they were present at the show. This album is likely to make those who have never seen Kamelot live want to do so as soon as COVID subsides and the band is able to tour again. For those who have seen Kamelot live before, I Am The Empire will serve both as a fantastic reminder, and a motivator to get them to see one of the best live bands around again as soon as possible.
Kamelot – I Am The Empire is released on August 14th 2020 through Napalm Records. Pre-order I Am The Empire in a variety of formats from the Napalm Records online store.