Kamelot - _One Cold Winter's Night_
(SPV, 2006)
by: Yiannis Stefanis (9.5 out of 10)
Call me a pessimist, but deep in my heart I know that I should not expect to come across many more live albums capable of competing with classics such as _Live After Death_ (Iron Maiden), _Unleashed in the East_(Judas Priest) and _Operation: Livecrime_ (Queensryche). Is it because there are not many great live bands left out there anymore, or that the market has been flooded with uninspired and money-orientated releases that put people off? I guess that the truth lies somewhere in the middle, and I certainly don't blame any one of you who has made a conscious decision to invest exclusively in studio recordings. Yet having just finished listening to Kamelot's latest live album _One Cold Winter's Night_, I feel that most of us should definitely consider making an exception to this rule.

I was indeed deeply impressed by this release, but definitely not surprised by the band's performance, seeing as I have attended quite a few Kamelot gigs so far in my life -- those of you who have no idea how this symphonic power metal outfit reproduces their songs in a live environment, though, are really in for a treat! In plain words, Kamelot are one of the best live metal bands, and _One Cold Winter's Night_is here to prove it.

It is true that power metal is quite a predictable genre, but what makes Kamelot stand out as one of its most important representatives is not only the fact that their impressive compositions combine many different musical elements, but also their high standards of musicianship -- both of which are clearly audible in this double live release. The album was recorded in Oslo, Norway as part of the second leg of the band's world tour for the promotion of the amazing _The Black Halo_, and that explains why most of the compositions performed that night belonged to that specific release. Their decision to emphasize their latest releases like _Karma_ and _Epica_ should not be misinterpreted as lack of enthusiasm towards their earliest material, but rather as a logical decision, as their first era was covered in their previous live effort _The Expedition_(2002), leaving "Nights of Arabia" as the only common link between them.

A comparison between the two live releases is of course both understandable and inevitable, but rest assured that _One Cold Winter's Night_ comes across as the absolute winner for many different reasons. Enjoying the privileged position of the headline act meant that Kamelot had more time in their hands, not only to present a more focused and varied selection of material, but also to achieve the participation of their Norwegian fans -- something that happened quite early in the show, and should be credited mainly to Roy Khan's brilliant vocal performance. God knows how demanding compositions such as "Soul Society", "Center of the Universe" and the all-time classic "Nights of Arabia" can be, but the talented Norwegian passed all the tests with flying colours. Additionally, the participation of many guest musicians, such as Mari Youngblood, meant that not only demanding compositions like "Elizabeth (Part I, II & III)" or the emotional ballads "Abandoned" were given an extra colour, but that this already impressively tight outfit would elevate their performance to the highest possible levels.

There is no doubt in my mind as to why_One Cold Winter's Night_deserves to be added to my CD collection, and that is not from the perspective of a loyal / subjective fan. Most of the compositions here sound better than their original studio versions, and the atmosphere that is present throughout this release is so strong that not only did my eyes fill with tears on several occasions, but it also made me feel quite jealous for not having been part of that great audience! Well, if Norwegians are willing to support with such great passion a band that does not sound remotely like their beloved black metal, then that's a clear indication of how special this release is!

Contact: http://www.kamelot.com

(article published 6/11/2006)


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