Many auspicious power metal albums were unveiled in 2005, including the majestic new record from Kamelot, "The Black Halo." Kamelot recently went on a jaunt through the US and Canada in support of the album and the band's guitarist Thomas Youngblood checks in with all of the latest info on the group.
The Gauntlet: It's been a while since you played in the United States - how did it feel to be back?
Thomas Youngblood: It was incredible to be honest. The US and Canada shows exceeded our expectations. Since we have never really played here I think the fans we very excited to see us.
The Gauntlet: What was the fan response to the tour like?
Thomas Youngblood: The fans in the US are easily as loud and into the shows as any in around the world. In New York the fans knew all the songs, word for word.
The Gauntlet: Your setlist consisted of mostly newer material with a few songs from Karma and The Fourth Legacy. What about the first three albums?
Thomas Youngblood: We are touring to promote The Black Halo album, so it makes sense to play a good amount of songs from that album. We have 60+ songs and most of the fans we talk to want to hear the ones from the latest release, especially the ones with Khan singing.
The Gauntlet: Which city on the North American tour was the most enjoyable to play in, and why?
Thomas Youngblood: NEW YORK ruled! We played there on a rainy Monday night and the fans stood in line to see us. The place was very full and now we looking forward to getting back there on a Saturday night and tearing up the place again!
The Gauntlet: What about the worst?
Thomas Youngblood: To be honest all the shows were killer in our opinion, great turnouts and response. This was only the first of more and intense touring in the states. We had to turn down a few offers due the routing of the shows. These cities, like LA, Seattle and more will be hit on the next outing.
The Gauntlet: Your latest album, The Black Halo, was released in the spring of 2005. What kind of feelings do you have regarding the responses from the press and the fans?
Thomas Youngblood: What can I say, its been great. I think our fans appreciate the fact that we offer a difference in songwriting and concepts to the ordinary metal band. This is at least what they tell me on tour. We just do our best with each release and expect for the best results.
The Gauntlet: Conceptually, the album is a continuation of the Faustian story that left off at the end of Epica. Can you explain what happens this time to your main character, Ariel?
Thomas Youngblood: I cant, That would spoil the subtle underlying finale to the story. But I can tell you he dies in the end, a real feel good story;)
The Gauntlet: What about Mephisto? Now that Shagrath is voicing him, he sounds truly evil!
Thomas Youngblood: Yes, we had to put the face of Evil on this character and Shagrath ruled for this part!
The Gauntlet: In addition to Shagrath, Jens Johansson and Simone Simons both make guest appearances on the album. How did all of these collaborations arise, and what has their impact on the album been?
Thomas Youngblood: We had Shagratn and Jens in mind from the beginning. Simone was in the studio with Epica and we kind of thought of the idea on the spot. So we wrote a counter vocal line for the song "The Haunting" which turned out great imho.
The Gauntlet: Several riffs, melodies, and even lyrics from Epica repeated themselves on The Black Halo. Was this done to tie the albums together musically as well as conceptually?
Thomas Youngblood: Yes, this is one of the reasons we needed to finish the saga on this release. We had songs that including some passages from Epica, totally part of the underlying story and connection between the two releases. There are so many "hidden" things on this album that we want the fans to discover.
The Gauntlet: On the other hand, there are a lot of riffs and patterns that are seemingly new to your style, especially a lot of heavier sections. Is this due to the album's darker nature, or just part of your progression as a band?
Thomas Youngblood: The answer is a little of both, the subject of "The Black Halo" is certainly darker than Epica, thus the musuc reflects that. However, we do like the idea of the next release going into a darker vein, we some new twists here and there.
The Gauntlet: You had been without a permanent keyboard player for a while now. How did the decision to bring Oliver aboard as a full band member come about?
Thomas Youngblood: After The Black Halo European tour. Oliver was the fill in, much like Gunter Werno has been and Mats Olausson. Oliver was amazing on stage and also fit in like one of the guys. So we made the decision to have him as a member.
The Gauntlet: Roy has done two songs now with Simone Simons, The Haunting and Trois Vierges off of Epica's Consign to Oblivion album. The vocal chemistry between the two is amazing � are there any plans to collaborate again in the future?
Thomas Youngblood: Not that I know of, but I assume that when Kamelot and Epica shoot our DVD's that they will perform again together. We just played a headliner show in Sao Paulo in front of 3,000+ and the encore was the Haunting, it was magical.
The Gauntlet: With The Black Halo, what kind of message do you intend to send to your audience?
Thomas Youngblood: It's a euphoric hymn to hope and harmony, life and the will to live it to the fullest while we are here. Love & Wonder, Life & Death�
The Gauntlet: Do you see yourselves sticking to concept albums on later releases?
Thomas Youngblood: The next album will likely not be a concept but I can see doing one down the road.
The Gauntlet: And lastly, what can the fans expect, in general, from Kamelot in the future?
Thomas Youngblood: More touring, especially in the US and Canada. We look forward to yet another step in the evolution of the band.