With singer (Roy S.) Khan now firmly entrenched in Kamelot’s songwriting core, him and guitarist Thomas Youngblood are directing the band away from the Crimson Glory-like days of their earlier albums. The result is something far ahead of their previous work, in both intensity and songwriting. The value of Khan as part of this band is tremendous, the extent of which will only be fully evident with more releases.I normally stay far away from the symphonic power metal sector, finding it hopelessly derivative, shallow, and generally boring. I find that Kamelot has succeeded where others failed because they offer superb heavy guitar exploits, powerful melodies, and godly vocals from Khan. But wait…don’t qualities like heaviness, melodic sensibility, and soaring vocals usually characterize power metal? Yes, that’s true, but I think The Fourth Legacy is a little more elaborate than your average power metal album, with more diverse songwriting, and Khan’s vocals dwarf most singers. His unique accent, combined with his fervent passion and incredible timbre make him one of the best metal vocalists out there.Quite simply, power metal doesn’t get better than the mighty one-two punch of “New Allegiance” and the title track. “New Allegiance” short-but-sweet instrumental opener where powerful orchestral strikes are punctuated by devastating drums that grow with intensity, building towards “The Fourth Legacy.” There, a glistening riff drives Khan’s uplifting vocals and lyrics, with a chorus that’s both unforgettable and heroic. A haunting choral/symphonic section builds the suspense before Youngblood’s solo. Traditional power metal is again performed on “Until Kingdom Come,” but it’s intensity pales before the incredible “New Allegiance/The Fourth Legacy.” Actually, the fact that “New Allegiance/The Fourth Legacy” is the album’s finest moment is perhaps it’s worst attribute. Since the album blows you away at the very beginning, in comparison the rest of the album sounds unfortunately tepid. It never really matches the awesome beginning.But the rest of the album is by _no_ means bad. For the most part, it’s excellent. Exquisite balladry, highlighting Khan’s emotional voice and the beauty of Youngblood’s guitar, comes in the form of “A Sailorman’s Hymm” and “Glory.” “The Inquisitor,” with ominous verses and harrowing riffs, is an awesome song, although the chorus doesn’t raise the song’s excitement in considerably. Actually, that’s one of the problems with this album. The production sometimes keeps Khan’s voice buried and it takes away a lot of the power of what could have been killer choruses. “Silent Goddess,” “Shadow of Uther,” and to a lesser extent “Until Kingdom Come” and “Alexandria” all suffer from this problem. It doesn’t really denigrate the songs to a point where it makes them weak, it just doesn’t put them over the top like it should. Kamelot takes the listener on a foray into Middle Eastern lands with “Desert Reign” and “Nights of Arabia,” the former being a fine instrumental that paints a vivid picture of an Arabic kingdom, the latter being a delightfully dynamic composition almost theatrical in its delivery. “Lunar Sanctum,” which closes the album, is relatively subtle, with slow-building string arrangements amid the crunchy guitars. It’s mystical and symphonic, and closes the album almost as good as it started. Almost.Be sure to get Kamelot’s new album, Karma, as well.