The Black Halo

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The Black Halo
Studio album by Kamelot
Released March 15, 2005
Recorded Gate Studio, Wolfsburg, Germany,
Above the C Studio and Morrisound Studios, Tampa, Florida,
Panser Studio, Oslo and Mirage Recordings, Elverum, Norway,
May–October 2004
Genre Power metal, progressive metal, symphonic metal
Length 57:21
Label SPV/Steamhammer
Producer Sascha Paeth, Miro, Roy Khan, Thomas Youngblood
Kamelot chronology
Epica
(2003)
The Black Halo
(2005)
Ghost Opera
(2007)
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars[1]
Sputnikmusic 5/5 stars[2]
Metal Storm 9.7/10 stars[3]
Amazon.com 4.8/5 stars[4]
Last Rites 10/10 stars[5]
The Metal Crypt 5/5 stars[6]
Sea of Tranquility 4.5/5 stars[7]
Metaleater 9.5/10 stars[8]
Metal Temple 8/10 stars[9]

The Black Halo is the highly acclaimed, seventh full-length album by the American power metal band Kamelot. It was released on March 15, 2005, through Steamhammer Records. It is a concept album inspired by Goethe's Faust. Continuing the story introduced in Epica (2003), it is the second and final record in Kamelot's two-part rock opera about Ariel (character based in Heinrich Faust from Goethe's Faust). Epica tells Part 1 while The Black Halo tells Part 2. Goethe's Faust is also broken into two parts. The Black Halo features guest appearances by Simone Simons (Epica), Shagrath (Dimmu Borgir), Jens Johansson (Stratovarius), and several others. The album was released on vinyl in the spring of 2009, along with Ghost Opera (2007).[10][11][12]

Characters[edit]

  • Ariel (Roy Khan) – Ariel is a curious, determined, and arrogant man. An unparalleled genius and an accomplished scientist and philosopher, he has become disappointed with the inability of these disciplines to answer his deepest questions, and seeks to uncover the universal truth that they have failed to provide. He strongly believes that discovering such transcendent knowledge is the only thing that can make his life worthwhile. In Epica, Ariel's quest for this truth led him to make a binding deal with Mephisto, under which Mephisto would supply him with worldly power and knowledge. In exchange, if Ariel ever experiences a moment in which he is so content that he wishes to linger there forever, his soul will belong to Mephisto. After a reunion with Helena, Ariel left her to continue his quest, driving her to commit suicide. Ariel is based on the character Heinrich Faust from Goethe's Faust.
  • Helena (Mari) – Helena grew up with Ariel, and loves him deeply. She is the only person that Ariel has ever truly loved. She represents innocence and all that is pure and good. In Epica, after Ariel left to embark on his quest for ultimate knowledge, she went in search of him, and eventually found him. Though they stayed together for a time, Ariel left her to continue his quest. Helena, distraught at this, killed herself. Now in Heaven, she is watching over Ariel. Helena is based on Gretchen from Goethe's Faust.
  • Mephisto (Shagrath) – Mephisto is a rebellious angel who was cast out of Heaven. He desperately yearns to reenter Heaven and be reunited with God. He deeply disdains humans, whom he considers inferior beings unworthy of God's love. In Epica, Mephisto made a bet with God that he could claim the soul of Ariel, God's favorite man. If Mephisto wins his bet, he can reenter Heaven, but if he loses, he will be condemned to Hell for eternity. Mephisto manipulated Ariel into a contract whereby Mephisto would provide Ariel with worldly power and knowledge, and in exchange, if Ariel ever experiences a moment of such deep contentment that he wishes to linger there forever, his soul would belong to Mephisto. Mephisto is the only character whose name was left as it was in the original Faust story.
  • Marguerite (Simone Simons) – A young woman living in the Town (in which Epica ends and The Black Halo begins), Marguerite's voice and appearance are similar to Helena's. Ironically her character was inspired by the appearance of Helen of Troy in Goethe's Faust Part 2 yet she is named for Gretchen from Goethe's Faust. (Gretchen being a nickname for Margaret or Marguerite). The character in Epica and The Black Halo who is actually based on Faust's Gretchen, though, is Helena so their names are more or less swapped from the original Goethe story.

Plot[edit]

Continuing from Epica, Ariel is under the control of Mephisto, still stricken with grief and sorrow over Helena's death (March of Mephisto). With Ariel's will nearly under Mephisto's total control, the fallen angel brings Ariel a beautiful young woman, Marguerite, who looks and speaks like Helena. Ariel seduces Marguerite and the two sleep together, which completes Mephisto's manipulation of Ariel (When the Lights are Down). The morning after, Ariel regains his memory, breaking Mephisto's control over him, and realizes that Helena is dead. He apologizes to Marguerite and explains his story of him and Helena, begging her to leave but that they may meet again (The Haunting (Somewhere in Time)). Ariel then leaves Mephisto, questioning how much pain he could bring despite his good intentions to search for the answers to the meaning of life (Soul Society). He concludes that it is impossible to find the answers on Earth, and that the answers lie in heaven and heaven alone. Realizing the sins that he has committed, he begs God for forgiveness (Abandoned), but does not hear any sign from him. Heartbroken, he realizes that he will never be able to enter heaven, and thus he will never see Helena again, nor find the answers he seeks. He looks back on his journey and the pain that he has caused to everyone he knows, including himself (This Pain). He then believes that he will never be free of the burden of his actions.

With this conclusion at hand, he prompts himself into action and then heads towards the castle to confront Mephisto (Moonlight). Resigning himself to death, he confronts Mephisto, calling him a liar and a traitor. He cuts his ties to Mephisto, knowing that damnation is inevitable (The Black Halo). He then goes back to Mephisto's claim of the curse of humans being emotions. He denounces Mephisto's claim and makes a statement that humans will always struggle with the very questions that Ariel has been trying to answer throughout his journey (Nothing Ever Dies). This then pops a sudden suggestion about this, that love is the ultimate answer to life. He then finally realizes that he was experiencing this even before his quest, and that Helena and he created a part of it. He then comes to a state of complete understanding. Everything becomes clear to Ariel, that with the universality of love, he will never be satisfied on Earth, and that his free will allows him to create his own meaning of life and his destiny. With his questions finally answered, he becomes incredibly joyous and wishes to stay in his state forever.

This suddenly brings the effect of the contract to light (Memento Mori). As Ariel's soul begins to leave his body, Mephisto grabs the chance to take it. However, Helena intercedes with God on Ariel's behalf and that Ariel has redeemed himself by rejecting all evil, even in the face of damnation. God considers this, and decides to spare Ariel by taking him away from Mephisto, and allowing to him to join Helena in Heaven. Mephisto, losing his bet with God, wails as he is banished to Hell forever.

As the story ends, it is revealed that Ariel's story is a play set for a New Year's Eve festival, which is similar to that of Goethe's Faust. The song Serenade is a tribute to comedy, tragedy, and to the cyclical nature of life.

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Kamelot. 

No. Title Length
1. "March of Mephisto" (feat. Shagrath) 5:28
2. "When the Lights are Down"   3:41
3. "The Haunting (Somewhere in Time)" (feat. Simone Simons) 5:40
4. "Soul Society"   4:17
5. "Interlude I: Dei Gratia"   0:57
6. "Abandoned" (feat. Mari Youngblood) 4:07
7. "This Pain"   3:59
8. "Moonlight"   5:10
9. "Interlude II: Un Assassinio Molto Silenzioso"   0:40
10. "The Black Halo"   3:43
11. "Nothing Ever Dies"   4:45
12. "Memento Mori" (feat. Shagrath & Mari Youngblood) 8:54
13. "Interlude III: Midnight - Twelve Tolls for a New Day"   1:21
14. "Serenade"   4:32
Total length:
58:41

There is a short hidden track (1:20) in the pregap. Rewinding from "March of Mephisto" on some CD players reveal a couple entering a theatre and being told that they have "just made it to the second act", referring to The Black Halo as the second album in a two-part concept.

Japanese and Limited edition bonus tracks were later included on 2007 compilation "Myths & Legends Of Kamelot".

Charts[edit]

Chart (2005) Peak
position
Swedish Albums Chart[13] 24
Japanese Albums Chart[14] 41
Japanese International Albums Chart[15] 3
Finnish Albums Chart[16] 50
German Albums Chart[17] 81
Belgian Albums Charts[18] 81
Norwegian Albums Chart[19] 87
French Albums Chart[20] 101

Personnel[edit]

Band members[edit]

Guest musicians[edit]

  • Keyboards and orchestral arrangements – Miro
  • Additional guitars – Sascha Paeth
  • Keyboard solos on "March of Mephisto" and "When the Lights Are Down" – Jens Johansson
  • Mephisto character on "March of Mephisto" and "Memento Mori" – Shagrath
  • Cabaret singer on "Un Assassinio Molto Silenzioso" – Cinzia Rizzo
  • Marguerite character on "The Haunting" – Simone Simons
  • The Usher at the Theater and Mayor of Gatesville – Geoff Rudd
  • Helena character on "Memento Mori" and "Abandoned" – Mari Youngblood
  • Baby Alena on "Soul Society" – Annelise Youngblood (Thomas Youngblood's daughter)
  • D-bass on "Abandoned" – Andre Neygenfind
  • Oboe on "Memento Mori" – Wolfgang Dietrich
  • Rodenberg Symphony Orchestra
  • Kamelot Choir: Herbie Langhans, Amanda Somerville, Michael Rodenberg, Gerit Göbel, Thomas Rettke and Elisabeth Kjaernes

References[edit]

  1. ^ Rivadavia, Eduardo. "Kamelot The Black Halo review". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 2012-10-13. 
  2. ^ "Sputnik music review". 
  3. ^ "Metal Storm review". 
  4. ^ "Amazon.com review". 
  5. ^ "Last Rites review". 
  6. ^ "The Metal Crypt review". 
  7. ^ "Sea of Tranquility review". 
  8. ^ "Metaleater review". 
  9. ^ "Metal Temple review". 
  10. ^ - Official site news article dated December 13, 2008.[dead link]
  11. ^ "Blabbermouth.net article dated December 13, 2008". Roadrunnerrecords.com. Retrieved 2011-12-03. 
  12. ^ bravewords.com. "article dated December 13, 2008". Bravewords.com. Retrieved 2011-10-24. 
  13. ^ Steffen Hung. "Kamelot - The Black Halo". swedishcharts.com. Retrieved 2005-03-24. 
  14. ^ "キャメロット - ザ・ブラック・ヘイロー". Oricon.co.jp. Retrieved 2005-02-16. 
  15. ^ "キャメロット - ザ・ブラック・ヘイロー". Oricon.co.jp. Retrieved 2005-02-16. 
  16. ^ "Kamelot - The Black Halo". kamelot.com. 
  17. ^ "Kamelot - The Black Halo". kamelot.com. 
  18. ^ "Kamelot - The Black Halo". ultratop.be. Retrieved 2005-04-02. 
  19. ^ "Kamelot - The Black Halo". kamelot.com. 
  20. ^ Steffen Hung. "Kamelot - The Black Halo". lescharts.com. Retrieved 2005-03-19. 

External links[edit]