Before taking his last breath in the classic film “Citizen Kane,” ambitious publishing magnate Charles Foster Kane enigmatically whispers, “Rosebud,” and a newsreel reporter spends the rest of the movie trying to figure out just what the devil he meant by that dying utterance. Power-metal observers may find the title of Kamelot’s latest magnum opus, Silverthorn, to be just as perplexing, because guitarist/composer Thomas Youngblood, essentially the director of this extravagant production, is being rather cryptic about its significance, leaving it to the listener to decipher it on his or her own.

A sweeping epic, as only Kamelot and Youngblood, in particular, can stage, Silverthorn weaves a haunting tale of lost innocence, heart-rending tragedy, guilty consciences, and troubling family secrets around a young girl’s death and her twin brothers’ search for resolution and salvation. Befitting the poignancy and the dramatic tenor of the story, not to mention the deeply conflicted morality and humanity of its characters, Youngblood has composed a tour de force of jaw-dropping, melodic metal grandeur that never ceases to amaze. Meticulously sequenced so that each piece is logically and inextricably bound to the next, with new singer Tommy Karevik interpreting with clarity and stunning expression the reflective moods, emotional turmoil and thrilling action of the engrossing lyrical narrative, the expansive and mysterious Silverthorn explores progressive sonic labyrinths with childlike wonder and endures full-on invasions of classical bombast, glorious choral outbursts and churning gothic metal riffage. Out via Steamhammer/SPV, and packaged in a limited-edition box set, a double gatefold LP, and the normal Ecolbook version, there’s nothing subtle about Silverthorn.

In “Manus Dei,” which serves as a sort of prologue to Silverthorn, there is unease and fear in the smartly executed piano figures, that sense of impending doom enhanced by the enveloping darkness of urgent, sharp vocal violence and cutting strings. Out of the blackness, the pulse-pounding “Sacrimony (Angel of the Afterlife),” emerges, caught up in a swirling vortex of symphonic flourishes and surging guitars and breathlessly racing headlong into the heavy, pendulum swing of the more menacing “Ashes to Ashes.” Among the most impactful tracks on Silverthorn, “Torn” is fraught with tension and its release is cathartic. Immense walls of sound that they are, the title track, “Veritas” and “My Confession” are similarly cast, although the down-and-dirty, serpentine grooves that hold the grinding “Veritas” in their death grip fill a need for some much needed low-end thickness and grit – something Silverthorn otherwise lacks.

Completely over the top, even to the point where it might be wise of Kamelot to scale back on the full-blown orchestration and avoid burying the character of their songs in such lush instrumentation, the multi-layered Silverthorn is, nevertheless, a grandiose monument to Youngblood’s exacting standards with regard to arrangements, sonic quality and musicianship that dazzles. When experienced as a whole, Silverthorn’s overflowing melodies, beastly metal riffs, compelling storyline and the Rick Wakeman-like keyboard excursions from Oliver Palotai make it a fantastical sonic journey with many magnificent peaks and lovely valleys – one being the beautifully rendered “Song for Jolee,” a soft, sad little ode held together with the rather fragile thread of pretty piano and Karevik’s tender vocal treatment. An exception, rather than the rule, “Song of Jolee” is practically the antithesis of “Prodigal Son,” with its contrasting swells of church organ and carefully plotted acoustic guitar. Such is the way with Kamelot, these Floridians who could be mistaken for Europeans. If not quite as volcanic or malevolent as the last couple of Kamelot records, Silverthorn somehow still manages to rise majestically above them, its melodies bigger than life. Now, if only Youngblood would just tell us what Silverthorn means.