(Sorry, I don't know how many times that joke has been made, but I had to, I just had to).
Ahem. Kamelot's newest studio endeavor, Poetry For the Poisoned, is probably their most ambitious and diverse studio recording to date. After almost 20 years and nine albums, this Tampa, Florida metal band has created a dark power/progressive metal epic that has truly surprised me. I've never been the biggest fan of this band, and in the past I've found them to be a bit boring, but Poetry For the Poisoned has turned me around.
The theatrics are dialed back a little bit on this one, though the operatic vocals and orchestration are still present. The songs here are very well written and focused, and restrained. Normally, I find restraint to be a bad thing, something bands hide behind, but we know from past albums that Kamelot can kill it if they want to. Poetry For the Poisoned reflects an effort to set a mood, a somber atmosphere that occasionally hits a smoldering rage (like the guitar solo in Hunter's Season, holy shit). But it never succumbs to the ridiculous aspects of power or prog metal. Khan doesn't need to wail in a counter-tenor until his nuts drop off, and Thomas Youngblood doesn't need to ride his whammy bar. They don't need to play in some complex time signature that you need a calculator to figure out. If anything, the focus on the songwriting conveys a strong sense of tension and release. When it gets heavy, you know it was worth waiting for.
Poetry For the Poisoned is slower-paced, never really soaring past mid-tempo, and there's a lot of space. Riffs are not overly cluttered by speeding double bass or unnecessary shredding. Don't listen to this thinking it's going to be a wankfest, it's not going to satisfy you that way. Instead, throw this on when you have time to really soak it in. There's enough meat there to hook you on a first listen, but it's when you get sucked into it that the beauty of it is revealed.
Definitely recommended if you want to hear a good, deep, and slightly melancholy power/progressive metal album that rests on the strength of the songwriting and the cool, confident skill of each band member, rather than relying on instrumental masturbation or cheesy cliches.