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Karmakanic - Who's the Boss in the Factory? CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.06 | 482 ratings

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4 stars "Who's the Boss in the Factory?" is the third album from the Swedish band Karmakanic. It has its ups and downs, but I can unequivocally say that this is the must-own album of 2008. This is my first review so let's just dive in.

Send a Message from the Heart: "Send a Message From the Heart" is, without a doubt, my favorite song of 2008. Surely to be known as the magnum opus of Karmakanic, it is an epic that is all about change. The mood is constantly changing as are the musicians' roles in the song. Everyone takes their place in the background, foreground and everywhere else in the music which is part of its charm. Despite the shifting moods throughout the song, it is decidedly uplifting and happy. It has a few core musical ideas which are built upon, torn down, and rebuilt repeatedly which makes for a varied yet consistent piece while never coming close to boring territory. While it is highly impractical to give a detailed review of this song due to all the shifts, I will say that it ends on a high note with the last 3 minutes being a bombastic, full-force ball of energy with all musicians doing their own thing while still being cohesive. There is probably a grand total of 2 minutes of individual instruments playing which I find to be unnecessary or unrelated (mostly the keyboards) which is very good considering there are 4 instruments playing for an average of 18-19 minutes plus vocals. Everything else is, in a word, perfect. Had Karmakanic decided to release this song as the entire $15 album, I would still have bought it and not regretted the purchase. I can almost assure anyone who likes at least some symphonic prog will love this. A

Let in Hollywood: Even though I've only had this album for a couple weeks, my opinion of "Let in Hollywood" has changed wildly. First I couldn't stand it and then I liked it because it's so darned catchy. Now I think I have settled at my final (somewhat contradictory) opinion of this song. I don't like the song, but I can't help getting sucked into it; not unlike the Macarena in the 90s. Okay, I admit that may have been a bit harsh but I will still press "skip" more often than listening to it. Now for the review. As a standard rocker, "Let in Hollywood" is a disappointment after the fantastic first track. The song tells the story of a prog band soliciting their music to a record label only to be shut down because it isn't radio friendly (The Tangent's "Lost in London" is a recent example of similar lyrics). It follows the formula of verse -> chorus -> verse -> chorus -> instrumental bridge -> verse -> repeat chorus until end. As I have already stated, the verses and chorus are quite catchy but musically boring with the exception of the superb bass from Jonas. The instrumental part in the middle didn't satisfy me at all. Krister's repetitive guitar (which is quite reminiscent of Velvet Revolver's "Slither") takes control for the first half then slides slightly to the background to make way for one of the few highlights of this song: the keyboards. C

Who's the Boss in the Factory: The shift to the darker material starts with the title track "Who's the Boss in the Factory?" Without even listening to the lyrics, this song perfectly tells the story of a man wrongly held in jail on his way to execution. The beginning is the prison guard coming to the cell to get the jailed man who tries to plead for his life. The two start to walk down the green mile as the chorus comes in then the convict lashes out during the second verse. This song starts out with a very bleak mood created mainly by haunting piano and a few spacey sections. Göran and Zoltan enter a little after a minute into the song, both of them doing an excellent job at enhancing the mood. After about a minute of this, the song becomes harder and gains an industrial cold feeling at the chorus. I can't help but imagine a setting in Stalin's Russia, Hitler's Germany or Big Brother's 1984. There's this tiny string part that comes in at the end of the chorus that I absolutely love. That doesn't really impact the song because it's such a small part but I mention it because I absolutely love it. Anyway, back to the song. The verse returns now with an angry and accusatory tone (with some nice bass from Jonas) rather than the pleading from the opening. The piano here takes on a calming voice, trying to counteract the hatred conveyed through the rest of the instruments. Unfortunately, the goodwill of the piano cannot stand up to the other instruments and gets shoved to the background as the anger from the other players snowballs and intensifies. "Who's in charge when it's time to make the kill?" Then comes the return of the chorus. A few changes keep it fresh but there's too new there. Now an instrumental break. All other instruments continue doing what they've been doing for the most part although there is a loss of the uplifting piano through the first part. Keyboards dominate for over a minute. About 30 seconds in the piano reenters although this time it seems a little more somber. The bass steals the spotlight for a while although it's nothing too special. The piano then goes off and does its own thing at 7:45 and continues for quite some time. It's not impressive but what I do like here is the rhythm section of Jonas and Zoltan then they really lead the charge as the volume and energy picks up to go back into the chorus. Krister finally becomes a big player with two minutes left and does an excellent job. My only complaint here is that the middle section should have been cut down by a minute or so. Despite that flaw it does a perfect job when it isn't boring and for that I give it an A-

Two Blocks from the Edge: Oh jeez. This is easily the weakest song on the album. It starts off with some spacey sounds and keyboards. The electric guitar joins shortly and leads. It's pretty good I suppose and the acoustic guitar joins that 40 seconds in. Electric guitar begins to soar. Jonas lends a few notes to the mix before Goran sings solo except for sparse drums and a chord every few seconds from the acoustic. More guitar enters and finally the whole band plays together at 1:50. Some nice bluesy sax comes in and is one of the few saving graces of this song. A new verse starts with some strings which are very much appreciated. Goran starts to sound like he's singing in a country song at 3:15 which is a huge turn-off for me. Jonas comes to the front at 4:30 with some decent guitar work in the background. The guitar and bass do an excellent job playing off each other but there really isn't too much to listen to. The sax reenters around 5:30 in a bluesy/jazzy piece which is stunning. This piece does not go on long enough although it is without a doubt the best part of this song. Once it's over the repetitiveness from the beginning once again comes in. The guitar attempts to revive the song with some soloing. I guess it's technically ok but it does absolutely nothing for me. Perhaps it's because the song has simply tired me already and nothing that happens now can reel me back in which is unfortunate because the guitar goes wild here. Were it in another song I'm sure I would have loved it. With a little over 2 minutes left you can hear the song hearken back to the first track which is nice. The music fades out for the last minute in order to set the mood for the Eternally Suite. The sax from Mr. Theo Travis, while absent for most of the song, will likely be the only reason I ever give this track another listen. D

Eternally Suite: "Eternally Part 1" is a beautiful piano piece with hints of darkness from Lalle Larson. I imagine this song being played in an empty church that is darkened save for a few rays of light coming in through the stained glass windows. Judged as a standalone piano piece, I'd give it an "A," but as the intro piece to "Eternally Part 2" I have to knock it down to a "B" because it doesn't flow too well into Part 2. The music here reflects the grief felt by Jonas when his parents died in a tragic car crash before Christmas 2007. As a result there is little to no "showing off" from any of the musicians; they are all very subdued. The song accomplishes its goal spectacularly. There are so many emotions felt throughout this song, starting with pain and sadness, which then give way to anger. The guitar solo about two thirds through the song offers a strong feeling of bravery through the troubled times only to disappear when the chorus returns (with a resemblance to Dream Theater's "Grand Finale" from "Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence"). My only problem with this track is that Göran's vocals are a bit too strained at times. Although I will rarely listen to this song, I have to rate it highly based on what it is. B+

TheCaptain | 4/5 |


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