Year of Release: 2000
Label: Noise Records
Total Time: 48:25:00
What a coincidence that Kamelot's The Fourth Legacy is aptly named, while being their 4th release - and easily their best to date. There is no doubt in my mind that this will also be their legacy for many years to come. Kamelot has finally found the chemistry and formulas to create one of the best melodic power metal discs in years. Many fans have always felt that even though Kamelot music has always been admirable and praised heavily, they knew that Kamelot could write the disc that would bring them the recognition and success that they truly deserved and needed to bring them to the top of the metal heap for the new millennium. Thom Youngblood and the gang must have felt the same way, and embarked on such a mission which resulted in The Fourth Legacy, a disc which seems to have drawn from everything in Kamelot's history to maybe what could be their future, and combined those sounds into what is certainly their best music to date.
Starting with the most exciting move in metal, the band employed the services of Roy Khan, who fronted the great 90s prog metal band Conception, and is considered by many to be one of the best singers in the business. With the release of their last disc Siege Perilous, the band took a different approach to their music, opting for a more speedy, neo-classical based sound, but the disc was praised for its musical value and at the same time looked down upon for its less than stellar, usually outstanding Kamelot production. Fans also didn't take quite to the distant feeling that the music gave off, maybe due to the distance between Khan and the band at the time, and others felt that maybe Khan didn't have much hand in the songwriting process at the time as well. Whatever the case was at the time, any doubt about this disc following in those footsteps can be thrown out the window immediately as the band has proven that with the right chemistry, the monster disc fans have wanted from the band has finally arrived.
Melodic, power metal with a total emphasis on MELODIC. The music draws from an abundance of influences, ranging from Kamelot's past "royal" sound, as I like to call it. Huge, epic, regal sounds surrounded Kamelot's past, and they have brought forward that base sound, and injected it with Khan's influences from Conception, maybe a bit of Rhapsody (considering who produced it), and they also threw in some Mid-Eastern influences as well. Along with the influences, came a variety of additional musicians to cover such sounds as keyboards female vocals, flutes, real strings, various added percussion, and a host of background singers. The result is an amazing combination resulting in a fierce display of power, melody and beauty. The band has sought to combine the power elements of chunky guitar chords, the speedy double bass attack of Rhapsody, and the quiet, acoustic elements of an "unplugged" Kamelot, with orchestrated arrangements, and beautiful ballads that showcase Mr. Khan at his best. Throw in one of the best productions this side of life, and you've got the supreme disc to start off the millennium right. Leave it to Kamelot to bring out the disc at the beginning of the year, and start off the millennium with a bang, and a disc that will easily last in the hearts and minds of many for not only the remainder of the year, but for many years to come.
Thom Youngblood / Guitars
Glenn Barry / Bass
Casey Grillo / Drums
Roy Khan / Vocals
Miro / keyboards
Sascha Paeth / guitars
Fallersleben String Quartet
Farouk Asjadi / flute and percussion
Simon McTavish / flute
A host of female vocalists and male backing vocalists round out the plethora of musicians found on the disc.
I would have to say that just about anyone who listens to prog metal or power metal or as heard Siege Perilous knows who Roy Khan is. Heralded as one of the best singers of the 90's from his work with Conception, and on Kamelot's last disc, Roy has once again proven that he is a force to reckon with and in my opinion, has outdone himself on this disc, putting on his best performance to date. I've always held that his best performance was on Conception's last disc, Flow, which was not only their deviation from their original sound, but served to allow Khan to break out a bit from the style he has been using earlier and showcased his voice to the extreme on the diverse Flow. With The Fourth Legacy, Roy is making a statement. His voice is absolutely amazing here, and he is a perfect example of how a singer can get better over the years, and not lose an ounce of power and beauty along the way. He does get to be diverse as well here as the songs range from thunderous power tunes, to quiet, acoustic ballads in which Roy has his finest moments. He also shows his range as never before, skipping up into ranges not heard on his previous work. His pronunciation seems to be extremely clear as well, and I chalk that up to the incredible production on the disc, which I'll address below. To hear him sing along with flutes and a horde of strings is more than worth the price of this disc - this is Mr. Khan's finest hour, and still reigns supreme as one of the best singers in metal over the past decade, and obviously well into the millennium.
If it wasn't enough that the band decided that it was time to write their best music of their career, they also decided that they weren't going to let the music slip by unnoticed with a less than stellar production that Kamelot has been known for. Employing the services of the great Sascha Paeth and Miro of Rhapsody fame, Sascha brought a sound to Kamelot that rivals his own Rhapsody productions, which are excellent in their own right. To gauge how a metal disc should and can sound, one has only to put this disc on any system and immediately hear what stellar sound is all about. The production on this disc rivals just about anything I've ever heard in a metal disc, and there isn't a moment that the listener won't be gloating over the wonderful sound that often eludes power metal discs, and especially prog metal discs.
The most amazing moments on the disc come when the orchestration kicks in while Khan is singing and the rest of the band is blazing away at their instruments. Sascha somehow manages to allow every single element of this disc to be heard despite the large array of sounds and instruments he is handed.
From the clean, crisp, powerful guitar tones, to the huge, epic sounding drums, down to the quiet acoustic guitar mixed in with flutes, the sound is absolutely amazing. This is what a metal reference disc is all about folks. To hear Khan in all his glory is one of the shining highlights of the disc. Surrounded by a sheer wall of sound, Khan is easily heard amongst the instruments, never drowned out, and the guitars and drums never suffer as well. Bass is deep, clean and powerful. The pan and scan sounds of the various percussion only add to the wonderful flavor of this disc, and the orchestrated sections come screaming out of your speakers without ever losing itself in the mix. The finest example of this sound comes from the quiet ballad, "A Sailorman's Hymn", in which Khan's gorgeous voice is not only showcased, but listen to Thom's fingers making their way up and down the acoustic guitar fretboard. The sound is absolutely astounding. This disc screams to be played loud folks, it isn't often that metal gets to shine soundwise, but Kamelot has proven that beauty and the beast do mix. Use this disc as a reference disc to show off your system as well as showing off some of the finest metal ever.
Admittedly, I was one of the pessimists who waited to buy this disc, for fear of having to be disappointed by great music blanketed by poor sound, as I was on Siege Perilous. With The Fourth Legacy, Kamelot has fulfilled our every wishes in how we want our metal to sound. Heavy, crunchy, epic, beautiful, melodic, orchestrated, you name it and Kamelot throws in everything except the kitchen sink here. For those of you who like your metal injected with keyboards and strings, this is the ultimate rush. If you?re strictly into prog metal originality, and are looking for something completely different and unique, you?ll have to search elsewhere other than here. If you?re into melodic power metal with a fresh attitude and laced with orchestration, power and one incredible singer, Kamelot has served up the meal with a flare here, this one will surely feed the need. If this is any indication of where Kamelot is headed, then they can consider this the start of a new career. Metal doesn?t get any better than this to me and it?s just what the music world needed to kick start the genre again. The Fourth Legacy has arrived in the new millennium, and it?s screaming out ?BUY OR DIE? ........essential.
New Allegiance (0:54) / The Fourth Legacy (4:55) / Silent Goddess (4:15) / Desert Reign (1:39) / Nights Of Arabia (5:26) / The Shadow Of Uther (4:45) / A Sailorman's Hymn (4:05) / Alexandria (3:53) / The Inquisitor (4:35) / Glory (3:42) / Until Kingdom Come (4:11) / Lunar Sanctum (5:57)
Thom Youngblood - guitars
Glenn Barry - bass
Casey Grillo - drums
Roy Khan - vocals
Miro - keyboards
Sascha Paeth - guitars
Fallersleben String Quartet
Farouk Asjadi - flute and percussion
Simon McTavish - flute
Siege Perilous (1998)
The Fourth Legacy (2000)
The Expedition - Live (2000)
The Black Halo (2005)
One Cold Winter's Night (2006)
Ghost Opera (2007)
Ghost Opera - The Second Coming (2008)
One Cold Winter's Night (DVD) (2006)
Genre: Progressive-Power Metal