The Black Halo is 10 years old!
Release Date – March 15th 2005
01. March of Mephisto feat. Shagrath
02. When the Lights are Down
03. The Haunting (Somewhere in Time) feat. Simone Simons
04. Soul Society
05. Interlude I: Dei Gratia
06. Abandoned feat. Mari Youngblood
07. This Pain
09. Interlude II: Un Assassinio Molto Silenzioso
10. The Black Halo
11. Nothing Ever Dies
12. Memento Mori feat. Shagrath & Mari Youngblood
13. Interlude III: Midnight – Twelve Tolls for a New Day
It’s a rare occurrence that I feel old. I’ve always full appreciated that time flies faster than we’d like and I can’t change this fact. However, a pre-festival internet search seems to have triggered somewhat of an existential crisis. A full on, self induced panic that lead to me having to re-evaluate the past ten years so I didn’t believe they weren’t wasted. But enough of me prattling on. It in fact turns out that Kamelot‘s performance at Hammerfest on Friday happened to just about coincide with the tenth anniversary of the band’s seventh album, and opus, The Black Halo.
To this day the album remains a personal favourite, but for wildly different reasons than when I first stumbled upon it all those years ago. I grew up with a mixture of eighties goth and black metal – which in themselves are poles apart – but Kamelot were a revelation of sorts; their grandiose sound and bombastic compositions a welcome change from the frost-bitten snarls of coldest Norway and the synth-driven croons of a new romantic age long gone. The Black Halo brought heavy music into my life in a way that completely unknown to me – and a new obsession was spawned.
Technically, The Black Halo is the latter half of a two-part concept based around Goethe’s character of Faust, but at the time this wasn’t something I could fully appreciate – that came later – but it was an introduction to concept albums that would further open my eyes to a world of proggy excellence and storytelling through music, and would also shape me as a person more than anything that came before it.
The composition itself is a hearty mix of power and progressive metal, with splashes of folk throughout. It’s guitar-driven, carried by an undercurrent of synth, and includes four vocalists, including Dimmu Borgir‘s Shagrath and Epica‘s Simone Simmons. These additions add further texture and dimension to craft a form of theatre that can only be described as monumental. The vocals are impassioned and sentimental – rising and falling with an emotion that lifts the story, from bombastic opener “March of the Mephisto through “Moonlight” and to its inevitable conclusion in “Serenade”.
The Black Halo represents a carefully constructed narrative that ultimately begs the listener to question everything – down to the most basic of emotion. Each character draws from the most basic of instincts such as love and hate. It shows us the meaning of grief, how loss can alter the course of life, and eventually how each choice can have more than one consequence that we can’t always foresee. After all, the path to hell is paved with good intentions.
For those who are fans of easter eggs, and who happen to own the CD: if you rewind from the beginning of “March Of The Mephisto” there happens to be a cool 1.20 long hidden track that is most certainly worth listening to. This doesn’t work on all CD players, but it is worth a shot!