The Black Halo


The Black Halo


Infobox Album |
Name = The Black Halo
Artist = Kamelot
Type = studio


Released = March 15, 2005
Recorded = Gate Studio (Wolfsburg, Germany) June-October 2004
Genre = Symphonic metal
Power metal
Progressive metal
Length = 57:21
Label = Steamhammer
Producer = Sascha Paeth and Miro
Reviews =
* Allmusic Rating|4.5|5 [http://allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:2k9sa9yge23d link]
* Lords of Metal rating-10|9.5 [http://www.lordsofmetal.nl/showreview.php?id=5165&lang=en link]
* The Metal Crypt rating|5|5 [http://www.metalcrypt.com/pages/review.php?revid=2103 link]
* Metal Storm rating-10|9.5 [http://www.metalstorm.ee/bands/album.php?album_id=2302 link]
* Metal Symphony rating|4.5|5 [http://www.metalsymphony.com/index.php?name=Reviews&req=showcontent&id=211 link]
* Metal Temple rating|4|5 [http://www.metal-temple.com/review.asp?id=812 link]
* PiercingMetal rating-10|8 [http://www.piercingmetal.com/cd_kamelot_blackhalo.htm link]
* Sea of Tranquility rating|4.5|5 [http://www.seaoftranquility.org/reviews.php?op=showcontent&id=2174 link]
Last album = "Epica"
(2003)
This album = "The Black Halo"
(2005)
Next album = "Ghost Opera"
(2007)

"The Black Halo" is metal band Kamelot's seventh full-length album. It was released on March 15, 2005, through Steamhammer Records. It is a concept album loosely based on Goethe's Faust. Continuing the story introduced in "Epica", it is the second and final record in Kamelot's two-part concept about Ariel. It features guest appearances by Simone Simons (Epica), Shagrath (Dimmu Borgir), Jens Johansson (Stratovarius), and several others.

Characters

*Ariel (Roy Khan) – Ariel is an ever-searching person. A prominent young alchemist, he has become disappointed with the inadequacy of science and religion to answer his questions, and seeks the universal truth that they have failed to provide. He feels that this truth is the only thing that can make his life worthwhile. In "Epica", Ariel's search for truth drove him to make a binding deal with Mephisto. Under this deal, Mephisto supplies him worldly aid and power. In exchange, if Ariel ever experiences a moment in which he is so content that he wishes to linger there forever, Mephisto will receive his soul. Since Helena's death, Ariel has been overwhelmed with grief and guilt, leaving him in a state of weakness.
*Helena (Mari) – Helena and Ariel grew up together, and she is the only person Ariel has ever truly loved. She represents innocence and all that is pure and good. In "Epica", Helena sought for and finally found Ariel, her one true love, in his travels. But after conceiving his child (unbeknownst to the two), Ariel left her to continue his search. Distraught, she killed herself (and, by extension, the child in her womb). Now in Heaven, she is watching over Ariel.
*Mephisto (Shagrath) – Mephisto is the archangel who most loved God. Thus, when God ordered all the angels to bow before mankind, Mephisto refused, proclaiming that his loyalty was to God alone. For this, he was cast out of Heaven. He appears in many different shapes and guises, and is never quite what you'd expect--rational and sophisticated, yet tricky and deceptive. He desperately yearns to be with God again--and it is this yearning that sets the events of "Epica" into motion. In "Epica", Mephisto made a bet with God that he could claim the soul of Ariel, God's favorite man. If he wins his bet, he can reenter Heaven. But if he fails, he must be condemned to Hell for eternity. Having struck the aforementioned deal with Ariel, all Mephisto has to do to claim Ariel's soul, win his bet, and reenter Heaven is to see that Ariel is ultimately contented.
*Marguerite (Simone Simons) – A beautiful young maiden living in the Town (in which "Epica" ended and "The Black Halo" begins), Marguerite has a voice and physical appearance very similar to Helena's.

Track listing

All songs written by Kamelot.

# "March of Mephisto" – 5:28
# "When the Lights Are Down" – 3:41
# "The Haunting (Somewhere in Time)" – 5:40
# "Soul Society" – 4:17
# "Interlude I - Dei Gratia" – 0:57
# "Abandoned" – 4:07
# "This Pain" – 3:59
# "Moonlight" – 5:10
# "Interlude II - Un Assassinio Molto Silenzioso" – 0:40
# "The Black Halo" – 3:43
# "Nothing Ever Dies" – 4:45
# "Memento Mori" – 8:54
# "Interlude III - Midnight/Twelve Tolls for a New Day" – 1:21
# "Serenade" – 4:32

Limited edition version contains two bonus tracks:
*15. "The Haunting (radio edit)" – 3:42
*16. "March of Mephisto (radio edit)" – 3:31

Japanese version contains two bonus tracks:
*15. "Epilogue" – 2:46
*16. "Soul Society (radio edit)" – 3:52

There is also a short hidden track (1:22) 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", most likely referring to The Black Halo being the second album in a two-part concept. Fact|date=January 2008

Plot

March of Mephisto

In Ariel's moment of weakness, Mephisto's hold on the alchemist's will is at its highest point. He finds Marguerite, a beautiful girl in the Town. She looks and sounds like Helena. In an attempt to console Ariel, Mephisto delivers her to him, paving the way for her seduction. His control and power over Ariel are represented musically by harsh bass lines and death grunts. He convinces Ariel to follow through with this course of action. Thus, as Ariel seduces Marguerite's body, Mephisto seduces Ariel's mind.

When the Lights Are Down

Both seductions are completed. Mephisto gains control over Ariel's will, and Ariel's illusioned lust for Marguerite is consummated. The two sleep together. Afterward, Ariel's mind emerges from Mephisto's grip, and he realizes who he has slept with. He yearns for Helena, and, as his mind begins to recover, remembers her death, and the events leading up to it.

The Haunting (Somewhere in Time)

Ariel explains himself to Marguerite as best he can. He explains that he saw her as a mere shadow of his dead lover, that any feelings he has for her are a mere facade of his love for Helena, and that he can never love her the way she loves him. In a tragic and moving duet, he urges her to leave and forget about him. But he says that, perhaps, they may one day reunite. With that, he leaves, never to see her again.

oul Society

We once again enter Ariel's troubled mind. He laments the afflictions with which humanity is chained. He wonders how such evil and misfortune came about as the result of his good intentions of finding the ultimate truth. He remarks on the insignificance of human life. Above all, he wishes that humans could live in a free and perfect world, but knows that it will never happen. And once again, he is tormented by his role in the death of Helena and the unborn child.

Interlude I: Dei Gratia

This interlude marks Ariel's realization that he can never find the great answers in this universe, and that the ultimate truth must lie in Heaven alone.

Abandoned

With this, Ariel is struck by a sudden realization: Because of the sins he has committed and the binding promise he has made with Mephisto, he has severed any possibility of connecting with the divine. He can never enter Heaven, never see Helena again, and never find the ultimate truth. For the first time, he realizes that he is truly all alone. Musically, this begins with a very soft ballad form, gradually building into a "power ballad." Lost and confused, he calls out in despair to God. In a daze, he leaves Mephisto, wanders out of Town, and crosses the still frozen River.

This Pain

In his mind's eye, Ariel looks back on his journey. He reflects on leaving Helena and her resulting death, and his abandonment of Marguerite. He has forsaken the two women who loved him. He realizes that he is the cause of this sorrow and pain, and that he will never be free from the consequences of his actions.

Moonlight

Ariel decides that he cannot possibly repent for all he has done, and that even if he could, mere repentance would not be enough. This prompts him out of his reverie, into action. Setting out under the moonlight, he sails back across the now melted River, in search of Mephisto. Once across, he approaches the demon's castle.

Interlude II: Un Assassinio Molto Silenzioso

Standing outside the castle, Ariel looks at the full moon, wondering if anything besides death and damnation lie in his future.

The Black Halo

A defiant Ariel resigns himself to death. He denounces Mephisto as a liar and traitor, and challenges him. He no longer fears the eternal darkness that inevitably awaits. He resolves to live a life of purity and goodness like Helena did, even though he knows it is too late for him to escape damnation. He embraces righteousness, not for any reward--there is no hope of that--but simply to be righteous.

Nothing Ever Dies

Ariel reflects that every human, throughout all of history, struggles with these same questions of right and wrong, love and lust, righteousness and sin, faith and doctrine. In a sudden moment of clarity, he comes to a profound realization: Love, including the love between Helena and himself, is the "only" universal truth. In this revelation, he realizes that he not only knew this truth all along, but that, for his part, he "created" it.

Memento Mori

This realization prompts Ariel to enter that moment of supreme contentment, setting his deal with Mephisto into action. Musically, it begins almost like a ballad, but quickly builds in speed and intensity. In this moment, as Ariel's soul leaves his body, everything falls into place within his mind. He understands at last that, even having found this universal truth of love, he can never be truly satisfied in this world. That death comes to everyone. That no human is simply good or evil. That he alone is the master of his destiny, and that he creates the meaning of his own life. That everyone has their own beliefs, and that none of them are infallibly correct. With this final existential revelation, under Mephisto's binding promise, Ariel's soul departs. But it does not come into Mephisto's clutches. Having rejected evil even in the face of certain damnation, Ariel has, beyond all hope, redeemed himself at last. His soul is saved, and ascends to Heaven to join Helena. Mephisto, his divine bet lost, is cast forever into Hell. Musically, this is shown through his long, wailing death grunt and screams. The song fades back into the ballad form from which it began.

Here, the story of Ariel properly ends. But there is a bit more to the tale.

Interlude III: Midnight - Twelve Tolls for a New Day

In an inversion of the "Prologue in the Theatre" from Goethe's Faust, we see that this tale is in fact a play put on for the New Year's festival in the town of Gatesville.

erenade

An uplifting, medium- and fast-paced tribute to comedy and tragedy, life and death, joy and sorrow. The overall message of renewal is given in the penultimate verse: "What does the winter bring, if not yet another spring?"

Personnel

Band members

*Roy Khan – vocals
*Thomas Youngbloodguitars
*Glenn Barrybass guitar
*Casey Grillodrums

Guest musicians

* Keyboards and orchestral arrangements – Miro
* Additional guitars – Sascha Paeth
* Keyboards solos on "March of Mephisto" and "When the Lights Are Down" – Jens Johansson
* Mephisto character on "March of Mephisto" and "Memento Mori" – Shagrath (Courtesy of Nuclear Blast)
* Cabaret singer on "Un Assassinio Molto Silenzioso" – Cinzia Rizzo
* Marguerite character on "The Haunting" – Simone Simons (Courtesy of Transmission Records)
* The Usher at the Theater and Mayor of Gatesville – Geoff Rudd
* Helena character on "Memento Mori" and "Abandoned" – Mari
* 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

External links

* [http://www.kamelot.com/theblackhalo.htm Official site]


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