1. Kamelot Kamelot, a progressive-power metal band, has at their disposal, an excellent songwriter in Thomas Youngblood, a virtuoso singer in Roy Khan, and perhaps more raw talent leaking out of their pores than any other heavy metal band on the planet, and yet they have released only one worthwhile album to date: 2005’s The Black Halo.
While this album did rank number one on my list of the top ten heavy metal albums of the new millennium, this is really the only good thing that Kamelot has ever produced. Their previous album, Epica, is filled with “epic” drivel reminiscent of the much-maligned Rhapsody on a happy day. Karma has the only other songs worth mentioning in Kamelot’s discography, “Wings of Despair” and “Forever.” The remainder is full of forgettable songs, much like 2000’s The Fourth Legacy, another wholly forgettable pass at writing Arthurian Metal. The worst of the bunch is “Nights of Arabia” where Kamelot decided to pair Khan’s unbelievable voice with screeching, high-pitched, and downright pathetic female backing vocals, which have, of course, been turned up so high in production that they blast from the speakers.
If The Black Halo is any indication of how utterly amazing this band could be, listening to the remainder of their discography is an exercise in aggravation.
2. Circle II Circle
What do you get when you combine Savatage’s songwriting with Zak Williams, and one of the best keyboardists in the genre…apparently a very forgettable band that is filled to the brim with talent.
If you are at all a fan of heavy metal, you’ve heard the name Savatage. This is the band that was responsible for the varied and unmatched Streets: a Rock Opera, Hall of the Mountain King, and built the foundations of the only heavy metal Christmas band The Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Circle II Circle is Savatage, lacking only Jon Oliva on Guitars (he is the primary songwriter for both Savatage and Circle II Circle). Zak Stevens is an upgrade on vocals, but yet, this band is about as exciting as white rice.
Their first album was a “breakthrough” success, which hardly cracked the majority of metal fans top 20 albums of the year. They followed that with an album called “the Middle of Nowhere” which is a very descriptive title. Last year’s “The Burden of Truth” is a concept album based on the DaVinci Code books, and sounds exactly like the cash grab that it is. In fact, it’s so loosely connected that it is impossible to tell that The Burden of Truth is telling a story without having read it in the liner notes.
3. Dream Theater
Most people balk at this choice, and will immediately question my loyalty to the world of progressive metal. The truth is, that listening to Dream Theater’s later albums without taking note of whom is playing leaves you searching, and hoping for more. Dream Theater has lost the edge of progressive-ness in their music and has turned into a paint-by-numbers heavy metal mistake.
Basically, my problem with Dream Theater is that they have essentially forgotten the fact that they are a heavy metal band. They think they’re a orchestra for God’s sake. With a seemingly endless supply of prototypical, templated, 20-minute long songs that all follow the same progression, it’s hard for me to remain a fan. Especially in a genre that is built on doing something unique and different.
When Dream Theater started, they were about as weird as it got. Unfortunately, they haven’t changed things up much throughout the years, and now they’ve been left to rot in a genre that has long since passed them by. Sticking to your guns is one thing…playing dated music in an uninspired way is a wholly different phenomenon.
Saxon is a very hit-or-miss band for me, and they’ve never done all that much to differentiate themselves from their contemporaries like Judas Priest, Manowar and Iron Maiden. Obviously, these are the giants of the heavy metal world, but because Saxon is so very typical of what is both loved and hated about the genre of heavy metal, they have difficulty standing out.
Every one of Saxon’s albums follows basically the same formula. One really good, catchy opening tune, followed by four or five mediocre rock songs, and a downright awful ballad. They then follow it up with a few songs that are a bit too long and simplistic to end the album. Most of the songs come off as half-written, with excessively long choruses and a lot of repetition.
Regardless of how typical this band is, they made this list solely because of the fact, that on every single one of their albums, Saxon has busted out at least one incredible monster of a song. It happens every time, without fail. If they were to write just a single album with even half of these kinds of songs, they would no doubt be considered a front-runner in the heavy metal genre.