Named after the fabled chair at the Round Table reserved for the Knight who actually found the Holy Grail, “Siege Perilous” is the third album by Kamelot and the first to showcase the vocal talents of Roy Khan, formerly of Conception. Khan (part Thai and part Norwegian) has an incredible voice that just pulls you into its smooth embrace.
I actually got this album after already owning numbers four and five, “The Fourth Legacy” and “Karma”. I love those albums, but I have to say this is their best album out of those first five. The reason for this simply lies in how much it differs from its predecessors and the albums that follow. Musically, it truly stands out from its kindred. Whereas the band’s first two albums (“Eternity” and “Dominion”) were meant to be early Queensryche clones – due in large part to original singer Mark Vanderbilt modelling his vocal style after that of Geoff Tate – “Siege” sees the Florida-based outfit introduce a welcome element of smoothness and subtlety. Still most definitely “progressive power metal”, this album’s true power actually lies in it’s very LACK of power and its somewhat ethereal nature. There is nothing particularly overt or in-your-face about it. (A new singer with a deeper and richer voice certainly necessitated a new overall sound). This becomes evident from the very first heavenly keyboards and delicate beat of the opening song, “Providence”. And yes, the production sounds a bit muddied at times, Khan’s voice especially getting lost somewhat amid the low din of the instruments. But I think after a few listens you would agree that this element may actually add to the overall charm of this album.
They then took a decidedly more straight-line, power metal approach with “The Fourth Legacy”, dropping some of the progressive elements and adding a bit more speed and simplicity. The new production team of Sascha Paeth and Miro (absent on “Siege”) probably had a lot to do with that. (The second song here, “Milennium”, actually seems a bit out of place on “Siege”, its speed better matched to the overall mood of the succeeding ones). And please understand – this is not a bad thing, by any means. I certainly love all their albums since this one. And special attention should be made for the wonderful inclusion of strings, choirs, and female vocals on their sixth opus, the Faustian concept album “Epica” (not to be confused with the Dutch band named Epica, whose first album I review elsewhere – but to further add to the confusion, the singer of Epica, Simone Simons, makes an appearance on Kamelot’s upcoming “Black Halo” album). Kamelot’s sound has certainly evolved, mostly for the better. But I have to say again: because of how noticeably different it is from all the others, the beautiful magic of “Siege Perilous” immediately grabbed me and wouldn’t let go.
A true gem among all the precious stones of their impressive catalog.
My favorite songs are “Providence”, “Expedition”, “Parting Visions”, and “Rhydin”.