In The Spotlight: Roy Khan

Introducing a new series of quickposts, each about a particular musician whose work I admire and seems an awesome person in general. They may be an established famous individual or a random small-time YouTube performer, all are welcome. What will follow is a introduction of how I found them, a brief biography and a couple of examples of their work, (live or studio). Posts will obviously vary in length depending on the amount of information available. Do give feedback as to whether this section is interesting or not!

Name: Roy Sætre Khantatat (stage name: Roy Khan)
Age: 41
Location: Norway
Associated acts: Kamelot, Conception, guest in Avantasia and Epica

Roy Khan is a Norwegian power metal singer of Thai descent who has been singing for around 20 years in two major bands, also appearing on several other releases ranging from black metal (here) to heavy metal (here). He was primarily known for a mid-high range, although this has since lowered with age to a more baritone range on the last couple of releases. Influences have been named by him, ranging from Geoff Tate (Queensrÿche) through Pantera to ABBA, as well as classical composers like Grieg. He also plays piano and bass, and apparently had to skydive with Kamelot to prove his mettle and dedication!

I first came across Roy’s work when I found a couple of mp3s from Kamelot (a US power/progressive metal band) on their website back in 2005/6, and was blown away by his melodic and rich voice, a contrast to the other power metal acts I knew at the time, who had more reedy and nasal styles. As per many Scandinavian singers, there was little trace of an accent, and the lyrics also particularly struck me.
After these mp3s, the first album I tried was The Black Halo, which still remains my favorite to this day. The progressive and gothic tinges set Kamelot apart for me at that age (around 16), along with fantastic lyrics based on Goethe’s Faust. Here is an example, the song Soul Society:


After discovering the rest of his work in Kamelot’s discography, I set about finding other bands he’d participated in, and discovered an older Norwegian progressive metal band by the name of Conception. This band showcased his earlier, more operatic style (he took lessons for three years), releasing 4 albums before dissolving, although there was a reunion in 2005 at Progpower Festival USA. Here is a power ballad, entitled “Cry”, taken from the last Conception album Flow in 1997.

Roy announced a few months ago that he has departed from Kamelot, and is “wondering profoundly what the future is going to bring”, after a psychological burnout due to the stress of albums and touring. All I can hope is that he will make a return to music after recovery, as he has been sorely missed by fans of both his bands.

I leave you with possibly the most famous Kamelot song, the main riff of which was inspired by a Grieg piece called Solveigs Sang. The track, taken from Karma, is called “Forever”, and it is still a live staple despite the album being 10 years old.

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