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Kamelot/ Seven Witches

Date: 11/21/05
Venue: BB King Blues Club, NYC
Reviewed By: Rich Catino



Prior to this show, Seven Witches played a couple gigs with new singer Alan Tecchio on this short run of dates with Kamelot, one local at Dingbats in Clifton New Jersey. The Witches will be releasing their new cd with Alan on vocals in January and this is sort of, aside from a new face, a slightly different direction for the band. Even judging by their setlist, Jack picked songs that were maybe not regularly sung by former vocalist James Rivera, or should I say songs that were fitting to Alan's voice.

Seven Witches went on at 8:00 and to a nice sized energetic crowd for a miserable rainy Monday night in the city. With new guy Kevin Bolembach on bass and on drums Jeff Curenton, the Witches blazed into their set starting off with a traditional metal anthem “Metal Tyrant”, and one of Jack's favorites. Following were “Dishonor Killings” and “ West Nile ” both from the forthcoming album “Amped”, taking their sound into an even more aggressive and slightly updated direction. Both features Jack's recognizable guitar playing but not the traditional metal riffing style he is known for like on the said opening song. “Warmth of Winter”, was played and fits in well with the direction of the two new songs, is the vibe Jack has taken some, and only some, of the songs for the new record. Alan's voice is far different than James Rivera as his gritty and rough tone gives Seven Witches music a darker edge, like for example “Apocalyptic Dreams” which came across with more power than on disc. Of course the live set staple “Camelot” was included, the only song from that era, along with “Cries of the Living” off “Year of the Witch”. I think the song that exemplifies the Witches sound, and showcases Jack's meaty riffs is “Mental Messiah”. The song not only is a crowd favorite but also allows vocals to really see their potential as both highs and lows will have a vocalist's work cut out for him. Alan Tecchio tackled the song with ease and projected with personality each lyric and glass shattering scream.

Seven Witches were a good compliment, and dynamic for this bill, as both bands being from the Power Metal genre, yet Witches bringing their own charisma to the plate.

Kamelot have been working on their own style of melodic Power Metal since 1995 and really started to find their own sound when former Conception vocalist Roy Kahn joined in 1998 for “Siege Perilous”. The band has played ProgPower festival a couple times and did some shows in their home state of Florida , but never really did an official U.S. tour. These few dates were sort of feelers according to the band's main creative director Thomas Youngblood as you can read in my interview below, to see what kind of audience they had. When interviewing Thom he did say that cd sales were very good for their last few releases here, especially for “The Black Halo” which got a proper push from the label SPV, and is what prompted them to finally do some shows. Kamelot are like several of the big name European Power Metal bands, carrying themselves like Stratovarius, Gamma Ray, and Blind Guardian, focusing on both power and melody, incorporating progressive elements into their music without losing the essence of a well written song and a memorable chorus you can sing.

Singer Roy Kahn is a key part to Kamelot's success as he is clearly one of the few voices that takes his craft and abilities seriously. He is one of the few singers that I have heard live that sounds as good as, if not better, than on studio recordings. Musically, the band is equally precise live complete with a keyboard player and female backing vocals as each song is a reproduction from disc. Mainman Thomas Youngblood on guitars compliments the almost operatic projection of Kahn's voice, as well as to the female vocals and classical keyboards. His tone and leads are very clear and clean, as well as heavy. A quality that allows Kamleot to be different from their peers is the Middle Eastern instrumentations and sounds that are incorporated into various compositions, for example the excellent “Knights of Arabia” off, what I consider one of their best “The Fourth Judgment”.

A very good showing of fans was at BB Kings for Kamelot's first New York show, and many knew their songs singing them back to the band as if they were playing in some European country where that kind of crowd interaction is common place. Other songs played “March of the Mephisto”, “Center of the Universe”, “Abandoned”, “Edge of Paradise”, and “Karma” all sounded great. After seeing all of the big names from this style of melodic Euro Metal, to name a few major players; Blind Guardian, Gamma Ray, Stratovarius, Edguy, Hammerfall, Nightwish, Helloween, Angra, it has become more noticeable the differences and distinct sounds and styles that each band possess. Kamelot as well handles their own among the many offering their own palette of musical sounds and colors.

Soul Society
The Spell
Nights of Arabia
On the Edge of Paradise
When the Lights are Down
The Haunting
Momento Mori
Center of the Universe

Backstage interview with guitarist Thomas Youngblood

RICH: So how has the reaction been so far for these few shows you have played and has it met your expectations?

THOMAS : Good, very good. The response from the fans at times is similar to what we see when we play in Europe . They seem to know our songs very well. You know, you always hear that the American audiences are not quite aware of this kind of music, also in some places we play people just stand there with their arms folded. Its nice when you get a very energetic crowd to feed off of when your playing and that's what I am hoping for tonight in NY. We never really did much touring in the States. We wanted to make sure we had a strong fan base and also another thing is that three of us are from Tampa Florida , one from Norway , one person is from Germany , our soundman is from Sweden , so we are kind of a mix. So we have to make sure we are going to play places that are going to bring in good crowds for touring to be successful. The package tour with Seven Witches was a good idea, Jack he's like a brother, and we talked about doing shows together ever since he was in Savatage. When I learned we were going to do these shows I called him up to see if he wanted to them and he was looking forward to it..

RICH: Have you ever done tour dates in the U.S. ?

THOMAS: Well we did ProgPower a few times and did some shows in Florida . We look at North America as a kind of whole new world for us and the two countries we are really from are the U.S. and Norway and we've never really toured there. We are looking forward to doing some more U.S. dates in 2006, maybe another package thing, maybe a co headliner thing. Something that makes sense. It doesn't even have to be a band in the Prog/Power genre but it should be Metal. We are not afraid though to play in front of people who have never heard of us either if that means growing our fan base. A good thing would be a co headline bill with maybe a band that maybe sell a little more records than us.

RICH: What kind of setlist are you playing and will you do anything from the first two albums that Kahn did not sing on?

THOMAS: We are not really playing anything from those, to tell you the truth about 98% of the fans really don't know those songs. And Roy doesn't really want to sing those songs which I don't blame him ya know. It's not like we are playing Iron Maiden songs that Paul Dianno did or something like that. We did “Call of the Sea” in Tampa and people seemed to dig it but really looked lost, you know a couple guys are in there calling out for “ Black Tower ” and stuff. Most of our fans know us from the new record, “Epica”, and “Karma”. Some know of “Fourth Legacy” and “Siege Perilous”. I think “”Legacy” started a whole new thing for us as far as our sound, production, adding the female voice, some choir sections. Back in 1999 not too many bands were doing those kind of things, now its kinda trendy to do that. It was good ice breaker for us.

RICH: Any plans to record a Live DVD?

: Yeah we are recording a show in Norway on February 11, that's where our singer is from. Full blown production, pyro, live choir on stage, we are setting up hotel packages for fans. We want everybody to be part of it. As far as that setlist there are some songs we feel definitely have to be part of it, like “Knights of Arabia” for example. Thing is we are with SPV now so we will play a lot from the new record, plus there are a lot of rights issues with Sanctuary as far as the older material. Its going be be heavy on the “Black Halo” but we still want to make sure we include some older stuff.

RICH: Any guests coming on stage to perform with the band?

THOMAS: Yes I think Shagrath from Dimmu Borgir will be around to come up and sing with us, Simone Simons from Epica. I don't want it to be a big guest thing ya know. RICH: So what is your favorite Kamelot album? THOMAS: It's a mix between “Karma” and “Black Halo” for me. There are some things on all of them that I would have done differently but in general those two are my favorite. For that time period I am really proud of what we did with “Karma”.

RICH: Have you begun writing songs for the next CD?

THOMAS: We have some ideas after this show we will be home for about a week and a half and then we go to Brazil before the holidays. We want to be back in the studio by the summer, that's the plan.

RICH: Do you plan on doing anything different with your sound that you have not yet tried out with Kamelot?

THOMAS: Yeah I think we are going to get a little bit heavier, a bit darker, maybe not so melodic. We will definitely keep our own sound because I think we have definitely established that, so we don't want to lose that. I am very proud of that, we don't want to be a clone of some other band. As far as the Middle Eastern influence I'm not sure if that will carry into the next album. We write in short intense periods and all year round. So we have this down time where we can gather our ideas and then bring them together when its time to get our work done. The creative break is good.

Official website : www.kamelot.com
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