Kamelot’s 12th studio album, The Shadow Theory, out via Napalm Records, picks up where the previous, 2015’s Haven, concluded: a psychological quadrant that trickles darker with each successive step. The flourishes the Tampa, Florida, band are known for wrap around this theme with haste, taking hold of the listener and venturing across the space-time continuum. There is an odd neoclassical modernity to the group’s often-mechanical progressions. A darker edge fits well with this juxtaposition. It’s old in stature but totally futuristic in mind.
“Early in the process, [guitarist] Thomas [Youngblood] had this idea of basing it around the Carl Jung’s theory that everyone has a shadow, and that the less you embody it, the darker it gets,” lead vocalist Tommy Karevik explains. “It kind of set the mood for the work of the album from that point. The lyrics took a dark and psychological direction.”
The pocket of extreme and technical metal that gives Kamelot their very particular glow bends well to this darker theme. The band utilize their power with restraint, managing to coat each symphonic measure with a backdoor edge. Youngblood’s riffs collide epically with Karevik’s operatic vocals, balancing an idea that started with their 1995 debut, Eternity: a new-age musical theater, something like Shakespeare on Saturn.
The Shadow Theory continues this altering conjoining, blending two very disparate worlds: an old, romantic-era sketch with that of the very infinite world of the future. “Haven had some influences of sci-fi already, and we decided to elaborate on the topic even more,” Karevik relays. “It’s something we’re all interested in and find intriguing. How is the world going to look in the future? Will human beings be obsolete?”
Kamelot have had many singers over the years but none with Karevik’s totality. He gets it: the spectacle, the imagination, and the importance of bridging a flexible yet still progressive nature. When the Swedish-born rocker was just a kid, his whole world flipped. “When I was 12, my mom took me to see ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ in Stockholm,” he says. “It’s something that I will always remember as the biggest musical epiphany in my life. I was blown away, and it’s become something that has been with me ever since.”
The fact that Kamelot’s universe is something like “The Phantom of the Opera” hasn’t escaped him. “It’s kind of interesting to think about that: I’m in a band now that has the same kind of theatrical flair to it,” he laughs. “[It’s] like it was meant to be.”
Something about the stage, about experiencing the theater, is the most intricate key to Kamelot. Many doors can unlock the mystery, but this one remains the most impressionable. The visuals, the universal connectivity, and the ability to enter the listener’s personal world—shake it up, darken it in a strange way. Karevik sees the picture clearly: fuse technical range with the ability to cross over, see the particular universe, then sculpt it with craft and musical form. Karevik even goes full growl-mode on “The Proud and the Broken,” an angle that really heightens the record’s totality.
“I think of music as emotional shapes, colors, and textures,” he notes, “and I think many people are very visual when it comes to music. The melody is very important too. It must have staying power and be memorable but also be able to help carry the lyrics and bring the emotion across to the listener. I always prefer a melodic approach, but there are certain passages or sections where it is very cool to bring more of the rhythmical or harsh and distorted singing in. It’s all about contrast to keep it interesting.”
Ultimately, The Shadow Theory reaches a deeper edge than its predecessors: a trait that Kamelot continually trend. With each release, a wider pocket filled, a bolder bridge crossed. This is what makes a progressive band: the ability to grow and still capture the essence of originality.
“We’re progressive in the sense that we keep evolving,” Karevik explains. “The music has come a long way since the first releases, and it keeps changing with every release. We like to challenge our fans and ourselves each album while staying true to the signature Kamelot sound. The topics tend to be existential, spiritual, and searching for some kind of answer to it all. I think that is one of the elements that sets Kamelot apart from other bands in the genre: something very relatable to people, no matter whom you are or where you are from.”