Kamelot – Siége Perilous
After some rather noticeable line-up changes, Siége Perilous was released in 1998. Mark Vanderbilt (vocals) and Richard Warner (drums) left the band after Dominion, and were replaced by Roy Khan (vocals) and Casey Grillo (drums). There’s no denying this change altered the band’s sound, with Roy Khan’s vocals being the most prominent change. I guess you could say this is the beginning of Kamelot’s career as a big band in its genre. Whether or not it’s a good start however, that is what I’m here to discuss.
Like its predecessors, this album has a symphonic introduction, though it’s clearly more focused on melody than previous releases. This approach is kept throughout the album; the focus on melody is obvious, and the power metal feel we’ve previously seen in earlier albums has taken a more symphonic approach. As Khan was the lead singer of Conception, he had some noticeable experience and his own singing style – compared to Vanderbilt, who seems to have disappeared after Dominion. What I find a bit disappointing on this record is that the band seems to not have noticed the differences between him and Vanderbilt, and had Khan sing lines that Vanderbilt easily could’ve sung. It sounds a bit half-hearted, and Khan (clearly) didn’t get the opportunity to use the emotional style that he’s so well known for (see Conception’s albums and Kamelot’s post-2000 albums).
The band also didn’t seem to think much about orchestration and completing the sound on this record (could be the production, but I doubt it); the keyboards are just a bit too loud, while the guitars could’ve been so much better. There’s a lot of potential in this music, but that’s probably it – a few decent guitar solos don’t make a good record, neither does equally decent keyboard work. The overall sound impression seems incomplete. Instrumentally, the only really good tracks are “Siege” and “One Day”. These two tracks are different from the rest of the album – the former is an instrumental track, and the latter is probably Kamelot’s sweetest and slowest ballad. (As “One Day” was a Japanese bonus track, that might not be unexpected.)
As for the lyrics, they’re clearly fantasy-themed. The entire album is more or less a travel into old legends; “Providence” might as well be the personal tale of a knight of old. It’s emotional; Pavlicko’s inspiration is probably coming from studies of history, and there’s simply a certain feel over these songs that brings you back to adventurous times of knights, dragons, and magic. There’s a possible (underlying) theme of mental illness – a few lines could point to this, but uncertainty rules. “Once A Dream” is a song that mostly speaks for itself. Musically I’m sure it could be so much better, but the lyrics are truly beautiful.
Knights and fantasy are the main theme, but with a band whose name is more or less taken from the legend of Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, what else is there to expect? And to be fair – Pavlicko has done a rather good job. The lyrics are good, phrases get stuck in your head (searching for what awaits us/set a course for a new shore) – not unlike the previous two records, you might find one of the songs’ chorus playing over and over again in the back of your head after having listened through this album.
Combine this with the already documented abilities of creating catchy choruses, and you get a rather decent power metal record.
To sum it up, Siége Perilous doesn’t even begin to match the post-2000 Kamelot sound most listeners know. It’s an improvement from the dull rawness of Dominion and Eternity, however, not worth an honour spot in the CD collection. It remains one of those records you’d want to listen to only if you’re craving raw melodic power metal.
Tora’s Rating: 2.5 out of 5