By Jason Wellwood
It’s a real testament to the song-writing ability and musicianship of a band when they can have superstar guests on their album but don’t really need them. Poetry for the Poisoned features such notables as Bjorn ‘Speed’ Strid (Soilwork), Simone Simons (Epica), Jon Oliva (Jon Oliva’s Pain, Savatage, Trans Siberian Orchestra) and hotshot guitar player Gus G. (Firewind, Ozzy) but all of the songs would have done just as well without the famous help. Not to take away from the performances of the guests as they are all amazing, but so are Kamelot. Roy Khan has an intense mid-range voice that captures the power metal feel of many of his higher ranged peers while delivering a strength and emotion that is more typical to progressive metal. It is a unique vocal blend that has never been more prevalent than on Poetry for the Poisoned. ‘Hunter’s Season’ is so ridiculously powerful you’ll catch yourself throwing your head back and raising your arms into the air to lip sync along (my wife almost caught me, thank goodness for squeaky stairs!). ‘The Great Pandemonium’ is also full of sync-along moments and a driving rhythm thanks to the solid drumming of Casey Grillo and bass of the returning Sean Tibbetts. One of the easy things to do in a progressive metal band is to overplay but both of these guys are tasteful, playing to the song, not their egos. It’s wonderful!
Thomas Youngblood, as usual, is all over the place on Poetry for the Poisoned, with a wicked lead in to ‘If Tomorrow Came’ and some restrained noodling in behind the vocal on the same track. Much like the rhythm section of Kamelot, Youngblood knows how to play to the song but also knows how to let loose and stretch himself when the time is right. Of course Oliver Palotai’s keyboards are very heavy on Poetry for the Poisoned but not over powering, why have a keyboard player if you aren’t going to use him? The classical flourishes of ‘Poetry For The Poisoned’ and sci-fi themes throughout help make for an exciting, moody album.
All in all, Poetry for the Poisoned is a lyrically dark album, but the incredible musicianship and song-writing of Kamelot brings the album into a whole new, exciting light. Well worth listening to repeatedly, and finding something new to love every time.