Kemilon – Twisted Storm
Geeze, more Canadian power metal? Where does this stuff keep coming from? As with many entries into what we at Black Wind think of as the “new strain” of power metal, Kemilon offer a solid grounding in power metal, supplemented with some progressive elements and considerable keyboard support. Despite this sometimes complex arrangement of elements, Kemilon is not a very dense band, and I think that this works in their favor. There are many portions of the music where smooth keyboard backing is punctuated by a few guitar notes, but with few over-the-top solos.
For some time, it was difficult for me to decide whether or not this apparent simplicity (or “sparseness”, perhaps, though that word seems to have a negative connotation) helped or hindered Kemilon’s work. Finally, I deduced that some of this feeling is due to the lack of constant double bass, for which I hardly think the band can be faulted. Most verses tend to be very double-kick free, so when the drummer gets down to business, the listener definitely takes note. Strangely, the drums have become one of my favorite elements on Twisted Storm, along with Yan Gagne’s proficient vocals. This might seem strange to some, but the percussive lines seem to have been given considerable care in crafting, and are very fitting.
This is not meant to undersell anything else about the album. Unfortunately however, the keyboard lines tend to be relatively redundant throughout Twisted Storm, and I confess to their being one element that ended up boring me. No cracks at it, the keys just aren’t that dynamic, they usually have a very similar sound and, even when delivering the melody, vary extremely little in dynamics, tempo, or texture. To some degree, I find the lead guitars to sometimes have the same problem: never sounding poor, but lacking the excellent hooks that are so present in the music of genre leaders. On the other hand, the tremolo picking here is very clean, and the rhythm work is tight and punchy.
Similar but less pressing items crop up regarding Kemilon’s frontman: while Gagne’s singing is pleasant, his range comfortable, and his style quite fitting, he doesn’t have the power to capture my attention thoroughly. Kemilon’s style is proggy enough that they avoid much redundancy, but this also means that they rarely rock a hooky vocal line into your head. On the upside, the band manages respectable harsh vocals when they appear (always a sticky point with debut albums for me), and the layered backing vocals that appear constantly are very well-placed and balanced. This helps to offset the “sparseness” that I see in this album, at least during the vocal sections.
Kemilon’s sound is not terribly distinctive to my ears, and though everything about Twisted Storm indicates a good effort, I confess to not being won over enough to put this in a constant rotation. However, I recommend that all power metal fans give a listen to songs like “Oceans Of Insanity” and “Sons Of Lies”, as they illustrate what the band is capable of throwing out in their most cohesive moments. Because this is just different enough from your typical power/prog, it may well be a grower- and this is true of nothing more than the arrangement and balance of the rhythm section (quite strong) to the lead melodies. If the band spices things up by livening the keyboard lines, placing more emphasis on guitar leads, and tossing in a couple more catchy choruses, they’ll be in the same court with the major players of their country.
Dan’s Rating: 3.25 out of 5