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Karcius - Sphere CD (album) cover




Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.61 | 45 ratings

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3 stars Unicorn Records seems to have a penchant for finding bands full of incredible instrumentalists and with Karcius that is no different. These guys are just chops-maestros from any angle. They are wall to wall jam that leans towards the high-energy, the frantic, the adrenalin-stoked, while paying occasional lip service to subtler and calmer sections. I get the feeling that on Sphere they nearly had to force themselves to calm down for these sections as the fast and the furious are just itching to get back in the game. Karcius are described as melding fusion with harder rock or metal which is true, I would offer up Ohm as a band to perhaps compare them to. The guitar sound ranges from melodic fluent leads to colored backgrounds to metalized power chords. The bass is bottom heavy and active, but often difficult to hear well. The same is true for the drumming which is sometimes oddly low in the mix.I like drums to not overpower the others but in this case they sometimes are too soft. Keyboards are a welcome addition to the power trio base but again are frequently steamrolled by the guitar volume.

They have a 3-part eighteen minute suite called "Lunatik" which seems like the heart of the album so let's dissect that one. Part 1 is called "Highway to the Moon" beginning with bongo drumming of all things. Very soon a metalish riff begins crunching away and then subsides for a guitar solo over keyboards. Shortly after that we get some lead bass guitar which I always appreciate as the guitar joins back with the heavy riff. This breaks for another guitar solo that is flowing and melodic. Then there is a laid back keyboard solo with bass backing trading with e-guitar a few times. It's all very well done but not particularly memorable unfortunately. Part 2 Synapse kicks in very heavy again with a nasty riff on fuzzed guitar way overpowering both the bass and drums. The keys try to break though the din but I'm not sure why they bother as they are smothered in the speed-fusion. The guitar wanes for a moment of bass slapping and unison riffing. When the guitar returns it does so with a vendetta, louder than sh*t, and the shredding begins. It is an awesome thing to behold for the guitar-crush addicts. Sensing the need for some space part 3 "Back to Earth" starts with ocean waves rolling in and seagulls over pleasant clean chords. Then we get some piano which is cool as the piece saunters into a jazzy shuffle. The bass bubbles away against almost salsa rhythms. Soon the guitar joins for a crack at some Chris Poland style lead work. The jazzy moods turn back towards hard rock with some crushing drumming and power chords, then more leads with rapid-fire bass towards the finish line where the bongos return for closure. Not bad.

Can I appreciate a band like Karcius? Absolutely. I can appreciate their talents, recommend them to others whom I know love this kind of music, but beyond that they do not resonate much with me. Any time I feel that chops and adrenalin get too far ahead of good songwriting and solid, unique musical ideas, my eyes begin to glaze over. By the half-way point of the album, one wants to scream "we get can wail!" The question becomes, can you write a song that a listener will remember 30 minutes after hearing it, that a listener will have an emotional attachment to? Perhaps the intention of the band simply doesn't align with what I look for in music and that's the subjective angle. But it's a good album to be certain and a safe bet for those who love heavy fusion from a unique perspective. I have heard their second album at a friend's house and enjoyed it more than Sphere so I am curious to hear them move forward.

Finnforest | 3/5 |


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