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Karnivool - Sound Awake CD (album) cover

SOUND AWAKE

Karnivool

Heavy Prog


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Rivertree
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Psych/Space Team & Band Submissions
5 stars 'Sound Awake' - you can take this album title quite literally. Explosive - highly energetic stuff provided by this Australian combo. As for a quick summary I would say the are acting in the same league with Tool, Sieges Even, probably I should also name Porcupine Tree. So we have nothing really new as a matter of fact? No, not at all. The symbiosis of technical and composing skills which you can find here is truly making a big difference compared to some other bands which are trying to enter this level. Another fact is that KARNIVOOL go without traditional keyboards - only some electronic gimmicks are recognizable here and there. This means the sound is predominantly fronted by a varied dual guitar work and Ian Kenny's expressive vocal performance.

Errm ... before I risk to be stoned to death I should better point out the rhythm boys too. Jon Stockman often punches his bass guitar as much as is necessary. Let me take Goliath for example which is so powerful. But he's also able to play very accentuated - nominating the following New Day next (at least for the first minutes). And drummer Steve Judd is constantly varying his style. KARNIVOOL is one of those bands who reach for a balancing act, having commercial success (at least at their home country) when offering complex and well arranged heavy rock songs. Just take All I Know which is provided with a catchy groove. On the other hand the echoed and sometimes even distorted guitar style serves a spacey touch. Yeah, they know how to make it!

'Sound Awake' is brim-full with enjoyable impressions - the highlights though are kept for the finale. The 12 minute monster Deadman is probably the album's top song ... dynamic and melancholy pure. And if someone still may have serious doubts about the adequate prog factor I recommend to listen to Change intensively. 'Sound Awake' offers heavy art rock and prog metal bordering songs - similar to Portal's 'Blood Red Tape', but surely more tricky. Fantastic melodies all over. This album definitely belongs to your collection when you are keen on sophisticated heavy progressive rock music - simply perfect.

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Send comments to Rivertree (BETA) | Report this review (#276909)
Posted Thursday, April 08, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars With Sound Awake, Karnivool has jumped straight to the top of my list of bands to watch out for. Their first full-length album Themata is definitely a great album, but it's got more of an Alternative Metal (and even at times Nu Metal) vibe than this album does. Sound Awake is still a hard rocking album in many aspects, but the band seems more willing to experiment with new formulas this time around.

Each song on the album has an identity of its own, which unfortunately I can not say for many of the songs on their previous album. Whilst overall Themata is a shorter album than Sound Awake, a lot of the songs sound similar to one another and it tends to drag a bit during the later half. Clocking in at an hour and twelve minutes, Sound Awake is a significantly longer album than their first, but thankfully it manages to avoid the filler.

Karnivool can still belt out some really hard rocking tunes, such as "Set Fire to the Hive" with its manic drumming, grungy guitars, and angry vocals. The band has also started to branch out and craft some longer, less straightforward pieces, such as "New Day" and "Change".

Whether or not this band is truly "progressive" can be argued, but I feel that they've got plenty to offer the world of progressive rock, and this is definitely a modern masterpiece in my book.

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Send comments to AgentSpork (BETA) | Report this review (#277053)
Posted Friday, April 09, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars I'm enthralled to see that Karnivool are finally on PA, I'd been meaning to suggest them for a while. People may argue that Themata isn't prog, which is basically true, it's fairly average metal, but their massive shift to this astounding album should guarantee them a place.

Sound Awake is easily the most solid, consistently excellent album I have ever heard. Every track is fresh, and there's no filler. Absolutely blows me away. Before I get into a track by track, I'll just commend Ian Kenny's absolutely amazing vocal performance, and I love his lyrics. Almost of the songs are related to atheism, and he expresses his thoughts in wonderful ways.

Simple Boy kicks off the album with a bit of ambience and xylophone, before the massive, dirty bass kicks in. The actual feel of the song is actually somewhat spacey, despite the bass.

Goliath introduces the heavier side of the Vool, the guitars come in raging. The constant sectional change is amazingly done, and the key change and riff in the last section ('please wake up..') is pure awesome.

New Day shows off a bit more prog again, constantly bouncing between heavy anthems and light, clean melodies over 8 mins. They do love a good buildup.

Set Fire to the Hive is crackalacking. It's rage. Insane time signature changes and heavy guitars, with some poignant atheist metaphors ('You swing this wrecking ball, a violent pendulum, to hypnotise us all..') and angry chorus ('I'll spit in the mouth of your god who spits into the mouth of our children.. it's fiction, a faceless illusion'). Just fantastic.

Umbra turns things down a notch, perhaps one of the weaker tracks but very well done.

All I Know is the pop side of the album, but don't fret: it's spacey feel is still true to form, and works great.

The Medicine Wears Off is a quick interlude, which begins acoustic and turns heavy.

The Caudal Lure and Illumine feature quick changes, anthemic choruses, great riffs, many shades of light and dark, and the usual deep lyrics ('There's something peculiar about the way you pay to save your soul, and forfeit your dreams').

Deadman and Change are the prog heavyweights at the end. Both pursue amazingly constructed paths between heavy and light sections, with anthems inbetween, and it will hold you in it's amazing grasp until the album is finished.

5 stars. This is an album you must listen to.

Footnote: Roquefort is not part of this album like it says above, it's actually from the previous album. It was released as a single, with the Cat Empire horns added to it (which is an interesting listen anyway).

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Send comments to Kazza3 (BETA) | Report this review (#290592)
Posted Saturday, July 17, 2010 | Review Permalink
aapatsos
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Prog Metal and Heavy Prog Teams
4 stars Destined for the charts

In Sound Awake, KARNIVOOL play highly energetic, progressive, heavy alternative rock that can be incredibly catchy at the same time. With a clear American stamp in their music, the band is probably Australia's highest hope for something really great coming out of the modern alternative scene.

This is my first experience with the band and my interest in them kept rising while listening to this album over and over again. The first few listens made me think that this might be another Tool clone but with a more commercial approach. Indeed, as the album kicks off in a very punchy, dynamic manner with Simple Boy and Goliath, the sound of The Mars Volta and Tool's first albums appears strongly in a number of passages. Although Karnivool do not borrow the style of TMV, there are moments where their sound resembles strongly to them; the way the singer performs his vocal duties is one of the reasons.

Alternative rock/metal is the base of Karnivool's music, but they have taken this to the next level, adding lots of progressive elements but maintaining a "radio-friendly" atmosphere (New Day). However, the influences of the band go back to the beginnings of the so-called "grunge" movement and this is evident in their first single, Set Fire to the Hive which pays tribute to Soundgarden's Badmotorfinger days. It is only in the middle section of the album where a few nu-metal influences appear (e.g. mellower moments of Limp Bizkit), rendering this a less interesting part.

The exceptional rhythm section of the band shines in sophisticated and adventurous tracks like The Caudal Lure, where the style of Enchant comes in mind and confirms the "heavy-prog" tag given in PA. The odd-time signatures selected by the band are inspired and are executed perfectly throughout the album. Strangely, the two closing tracks are the longest compositions and that works nicely for the conclusion of the album, as there is great variety of experimentation, melodies and tempos to make these interesting enough. It also gives the chance to Ian Kenny to deliver some of his best vocal performance and reveal the affection for Alice in Chains.

Overall, Sound Awake is among the surprises of 2009 and could be well positioned to take its place among the best albums released in that year. Although Karnivool's originality can be questioned, they seem to bring a fresh sound to the scene of alternative heavy prog rock/metal. The great rhythm section and the filtration of influences from the "grunge" scene have produced a very dynamic album. Any fan of Tool, TMV and the "extended" alternative rock scene of the last 20 years is most likely to enjoy this awakening experience...

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Send comments to aapatsos (BETA) | Report this review (#292847)
Posted Saturday, July 31, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Tool...Mars Volta...A Perfect Circle are real and evident on this 2009 release by Karnivool. It is pretty obvious where their influences lie. Just listen to the 12 minute track "Deadman". Could have fit very well on AENIMA by Tool, or FRANCIS THE MUTE by The Mars Volta. Not to say there is any actual copying going on here! This is great music and compares favorably to the above mentioned giants of Hard Prog. Best tunes: "Deadman", "New Day", and "SImple Boy". Great and interesting compositions with lots of cool buildups to harder sounds and good lyrics and melodies. Everthing a band needs to make it in the world of heavy progging. 4 stars but I may revise it later as I listen to it more. It is a grower...

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Send comments to mohaveman (BETA) | Report this review (#448437)
Posted Monday, May 16, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Awake but still forgotten

Introduction

This is the 1st time I write ''live'' on progarchieves (I'm used to write offline on a txt file before posting a review), anyway let's go straight to the reason why I'm here! Karnivool are almost unknown outside of Australia, founding this album was a mere coincidence and well...

Main Theme

... let's say I've got luck. Karnivool's music is a bit heavier than other heavy prog groups: you'll find that listening to the strong Goliath, which remark the inspirations of the band, anyway powerfull but still enjoyable, while the opener and New Day follow a more delicate & dynamical sound, excellent lyrics, and lots of atmospheres in Umbra (great drum opening), while the catchy All I know get a great conclusion (powerfull almost as Goliath), there is time for another demonstration in The Caudal Lure which remark the openings. The last two song are the longest and bring to the listener a more complex structure while Deadman dances between the powerfull of drums and a spacey guitar, Changes works more on vocals & atmospheres, while drums & guitar become more a support (apart from the solo drum in the middle, quite useless for me)...

Coda

... there are some weak points in the album: the grunge of Set Fire to the Hive is the lowest part of this work, while dark atmosphere of Illumine trow away the good balance kept for the entire album. Listening to it I've found some ''inspiration'' from other groups (Tools almost, while someone say TMV without any reason - no experimentation here sorry!), the great passages on main tracks keep this work over the 4 stars but I cannot call it masterpiece, since 4.5 rounded down.

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Send comments to Erik Nymas (BETA) | Report this review (#524586)
Posted Friday, September 16, 2011 | Review Permalink
Andy Webb
FORUM & SITE ADMIN GROUP
Admin / Heavy Prog Team
5 stars Anyone with the desire to peruse the progressive hard rock genre, named here on ProgArchives as "Heavy Prog," can see a clear dichotomy in the genre. On one side is the classic 70s sound, with thick Hammond swaths, overdriven guitar riffs, and a blues-rock based sound. On the other side is the more modern style, made up of the post-hardcore, punk, alt-metal, and other "modern" heavy rock bands that dabble in more progressive styles, most notable Porcupine Tree and The Mars Volta. While both constitute "heavy" prog, it's almost amusing how different the two styles can be.

Karnivool rose out of a Perth-based garage band formed by singer Ian Kenny in the late 90s. The band initially played a quite standard form of the nu-metal which had exploded over the past decade. The band, which gradually evolved over the years, released first the Persona EP in 2001, then the Themata LP in 2005, both displaying their rather average brand of alt metal. Finally, around 2008 something snapped. With the addition of Steve Judd on drums and John Stockman on bass, the band suddenly seemed driven to experiment with their sound. The masterful product of their mind-opening music adventure was their 2009 opus Sound Awake.

The sound of this album is hard to explain outright. The band, in their four year rest period from Themata, had obviously dabbled in countless different genres, ranging from atmospheric post rock and metal, jazz fusion, some kind of bass-heavy music, progressive metal, Porcupine Tree-esque psych-flavored hard rock and metal, and countless other experimental and progressive styles. On top of this, the quintet's chemistry as a compositional team exploded, as the album's fluidity and ease of transitions is expressed with ultimate grace constantly throughout the 75+ minute album. The crystal clear production and spot-on musicianship shines through the quintet's obvious passion and desire in their music. The harmonies, communication, and liquid nature of the music is perfect. Whether they are gently floating down melodically dense passages, cruising through aggressive sections of near metallic fury, the band is accurate in every attempt they make at composition.

Similar to the majestic Australian countryside, Sound Awake takes the listener on a musical journey, travelling across Outback plains of sand and stone, cityscape vistas of metropolitan chaos, and oceanic masses of majestic beauty. With dynamic like the beauteous soundscapes and post-rock inspired "New Day," the fast-paced and ferocious "Set Fire to the Hive," the epic grandeur of the 20-minute duo of "Deadman" and "Change," and every delicious second that lies out and in between, this album certainly has its share of masterful beauty. And while the band has technically been around for over a decade, this sophomore release certainly shows the band's alarming amount of maturity in music.

Speechlessness is most likely my first reaction on a simple perusal listen of the album. At first I thought a 76 minute album by this (at the time) unknown Australian band may have been a bit too daunting for one digestion, but I was quickly proven wrong by this breathtaking album. The consistent quality, constant pleasure, and commanding masterfulness of the album make it easily one of the best new releases by one of the "modern" heavy prog band. While at the time of this review's authorship Karnivool have yet to release a new album, many are eagerly awaiting more of this delicious formula, and understandably so. Highly recommended. 5 stars.

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Send comments to Andy Webb (BETA) | Report this review (#573204)
Posted Tuesday, November 22, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Agree with the comparisons to TOOL, THE MARS VOLTA (especially the voice of the singer), and, somewhat, PORCUPINE TREE, but would also add RIVERSIDE. An excellent album with some very fine composing and performances--heavy, subtle, creative and emotional. "Deadman" (9/10) and "New Day" (10/10) are classics in their own right, "Simple Boy" (8/10) and Goliath" (8/10) are great and exciting starters even though they sound a bit 'too familiar' (the TMV influence), "Set Fire to the Hive" (5/10) is my least favorite on the album--it's a bit over the top grungy for my tastes, "Umbra" (8/10) and "All I Know" (7/10) sound almost like amped up versions of 80's Aussie ICEHOUSE, "The Medicine" (6/10) and "Illumine" (7/10) are a bit too 'mainstream' metal, "Change" (9/10) is an awesome, powerful closer in the vein of the finest SABBATH, TOOL, BROTHER APE or RIVERSIDE has ever offered. This is definitely an excellent addition to any prog-lover's collection--especially if you're into the heavier, more-metallic side of prog. The only thing keeping me from proclaiming it a masterpiece is the many, many moments of over-familiarity. I think I'll let it percolate a little while longer before making my 'final' decision. Definitely worth checking out!

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Send comments to BrufordFreak (BETA) | Report this review (#579550)
Posted Thursday, December 01, 2011 | Review Permalink
Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
3 stars Karnivool is a heavily Tool-oriented alternative rock band from Australia. "Sound Awake" is typically an album that I would have loved to bits 20 years ago, but looking from 2012 I find it too safe and cliché to stand out. I also fail to see the prog rock qualities in here, but maybe the occasional odd-time Tool rhythmic and resemblance to Oceansize's later albums will strike a prog chord for others.

In comparison to Tool, the band enjoys some actual good vocals, not the rather tuneless wine from Maynard but an emo-laden delivery with a dynamic range and an ear for fitting melodies. The compositions however are rather faceless and there's nothing here I wouldn't relate to Tool (with some Soundgarden thrown in maybe). While I don't begrudge a band its influences, I do prefer artists that combine a larger variety of sources into something of their own. Karnivool sounds too much as if the last 2 decades of music didn't happen, and while the alt rock/metal of the early 90s is an era I very much enjoyed at the time, it's one I've grown rather tired with, more then anything else actually. Some songs stand out more then others but it doesn't have potential for more then an occasional listen as the album in its entity bores me. An overtly long album if that still needs to be mentioned.

I'd say this a good album for people that missed the alternative rock scene of the early 90s or that can enjoy a well executed revival of it, but it looks like I will have to strike a rare dissonant chord amongst the praise this album received. And some dissonance is definitely what I crave for after the 76 overtly melodic and emo alt rock clichés that this album holds in store. I'd say a solid 3 stars as an alt rock album, 2.5 from a prog perspective.

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Send comments to Bonnek (BETA) | Report this review (#601360)
Posted Monday, January 02, 2012 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars KARNIVOOL are an Australian band who play a dark and heavy brand of Alternative music bringing to mind TOOL, OCEANSIZE and early AMPLIFIER. A five piece band with two guitarists, a vocalist, bass player and drummer. Lots of guests helping out with mostly vocals but also viola, didgeridoo and percussion.

"Simple Boy" is a top three for me. It becomes heavy duty quickly as the vocals join in. The bass is massive here. A calm comes in but then they are kicking ass again late to end it. "Goliath" is also a top three. This one is very TOOL-like with vocals and huge bass lines. I like the guitar sounds early as they are experimental before they turn to riffs. "New Day" is one i'm not sure if i'm getting early on but it does get better. It kicks in hard after 4 1/2 minutes then settles back before 5 1/2 minutes. "Set Fire To The Hive" is experimental with processed vocals then here we go ! Cool section after 3 minutes then it kicks back in. "Umbra" opens with some atmosphere as the drums pound. It then builds before settling with reserved vocals. The tempo continues to change. Kicking it hard before 5 minutes then atmosphere only late as it blends into "All I Know". Drums and vocals kick in. This is surprisingly catchy. it settles after 2 minutes but not for long. There's something uplifting about this one.

"The medicine Wears Off" opens with acoustic guitar, percussion and reserved vocala. It kicks in after a minute then it ends with atmosphere. "The Caudal Lure" features some impressive drumming as the vocals join in. The tempo changes often. I like the sound after 4 minutes when the vocals stop. It blends into "Illumine" which sounds amazing ! Vocals and drums lead after 2 minutes and guitar before 3 minutes. "Deadman" opens with drums only as the vocals join in. It kicks in. Excellent sound 4 minutes in until after 7 minutes. Then it calms down. It starts to build before ending in a mellow manner. "Change Part 2" is my other top three and the closer. Love the deep and heavy sounds along with that dark vibe. Vocals join in as it picks up. It settles after 3 minutes but the tempo will shift often. Spoken word sample 5 1/2 minutes in until after 6 minutes then it kicks in again. Strummed guitar and reserved vocals before 9 minutes then drums a minute later as the vocals stop.

I initially thought this sounded too much like TOOL but that changed and they keep it interesting enough that i'm not even complaining about it being 72 minutes long.

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#790391)
Posted Wednesday, July 18, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars 9/10

Good .. pretty good. It's always nice to see a band with a sound so fresh and catchy. Prepare for aggressiveness, poignancy, weight and skills Karnivool. I've roamed this album for some time, and thanks to offers download could hear him (I know, it's illegal, but where I live is the only way to have access to the kind of music I like).

In his debut Themata 2004 Karnivool offered an dampened sound of alternative metal and even nu metal. Now in its sequel Sound Awake they bring us more progressive influences, although I use the words of the reviewer aapatsos and say that this album is "destined for the charts". The music here is consistently strong and heavy, though not without its moments ofoffering relief to the listener. The members, although young, have amazing abilities: Ian Kenny has a great voice, which is somehow appropriate for the band's sound (although I disagree with those who compare with Cedric Bixler-Zavala, both of them, despite having high voices, have completely different styles, even if you notice slight influences of the Mars Volta here), Drew Goddard and Mark Hosking shine on guitar, doing a job no less than exceptional, but are Jon Stockman and Steve Judd stars here, in my view, with low poignant (Stockman) and drums sometimes angry, sometimes melodic (Judd).

Of course, it is not a perfect work. I really have an implication for with Set Fire To The Hive, more because of its aggressively anti-religious lyrics (like a christian, I not see with good eyes) than because of his grunge sound, or whatever it is. Anyway this is just a needle in the haystack, thankfully. The material here mostly high quality - see the first two tracks, and Goliath Simple Boy (about this song, I have to highlight the rhythmic off-beats of Judd in drums), that really pulled me into the set. A few times I've seen as good a way to start an album! The brilliant All I Know is very beautiful, and the end of The Caudal Lure is pure ecstasy - not to mention the epics: New Day (a song incredibly lightweight and simple for her eight minutes), and closeners Deadman and Change pt. 2, which complement each other as perfectly as the first two songs.

Good? Very good. This album is amazing. Karnivool promises with its inventive and energetic sound!

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Send comments to voliveira (BETA) | Report this review (#823515)
Posted Tuesday, September 18, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars Has it really been five years since Sound Awake? Damn.

Ever since I started doing this review-on-anniversary thing, I've been kind of surprised at what comes of. More often than not I'm thinking "damn, five years already. I can remember when this one was still getting hype", but in the case of Sound Awake, I'm seriously amazed at how it's managed to get where it is in terms of reputation in just that time. I mean, this is the Aussie post-prog record. Responsible for a bucketload of bands following down that line and an even bigger number rising up from birth with this style in mind. And it's not as if Karnivool did it with multiple releases - Asymmetry was both dissappointing and released way too late to have any impact; almost all of Karnivool's legendary status in modern progressive rock stemmed from this one record.

Back when I was first getting into this album, a couple of years ago, I was always wary about how much these guys flaunted their Tool influence. It was funny, because back then I wasn't really even a Tool fan, but I knew their sound, and I knew that Sound Awake was down that line. Everything about this band screamed "Tool clone". Their names rhyme, they have pretentiously daft lyrics, both bands have links to rather embarrassing alt-metal in their roots, their album covers have ~meaningful~ imagery and are always released half a decade apart, and the way they construct their instrumentals is uncannily similar. I praised Karnivool for taking that sound and making it digestible and frankly a lot better, but in time, as I have ventured more into both bands, I have realised that this does stand separate from its mother quite a bit, and is a milestone record in its own right.

But the thing that reminds me the most about Tool here is how easy it is to fanboy over this [&*!#]. When I was giving this a good listen yesterday with proper headphones, I was floored at how much I could pick out to comment on instrumentally. Nearly every performance on this record is flawless. The instrumentals are tight as hell and perfectly balanced, the vocals are a perfect harmony of soft, the tones on both the guitars and drums are spellbinding - everything I was saying about it pointed me towards the way Tool fans talk about their music. But although I will try not to fanboy, instrumentally, this is phenomenal. Everything about this record has an intense, tribal feel to it, and the guitar and bass aren't just playing boring old lines; they're darting around the drums and above them and intertwining into each others ranges. The music here captures such a brilliant sense of tribal intensity, particularly in the drums. I absolutely adore the little grace notes that Steve Judd throws on the snare hits throughout the album, and he frequently gets the chance to shine through in some solo segments (the album is even bookended with drum solos), my favourite moments being during "Goliath" and "Change".

The bass guitar also gets a good run here, and is in fact one of my favourite albums for audible and unique bass guitar. Using the extended range of the 6-string, Stockman manages to throw in some pretty solid high riffs and solos, evident during tracks like "Umbra" or my favourite here, "New Day". But my favourite use of the bass is the thick and chunky low-end riffs that come into a track like "Set Fire To The Hive", with the tone thick and throaty and brutally intense. The track on the whole is pretty mediocre, and easily the weakest here (even below interlude track "The Medicine Wears Off" in my ears), but the song is kept alive by the combination of the thick bass tone and the intense tribal drumming.

But for me, there's no denying that my love for this record definitely revolves around the brilliance of one track, the absolutely spellbinding "New Day". A week or so ago, I reviewed IQ's 2009 album Frequency, and I referred to its title track being in an elite of near-perfect songs for me. These two tracks are certainly linked in the way they develop and link together so many beautiful melodies, but New Day is in a league of its own. I don't regularly make lists of songs - I find there are too many of them to make a meaningful ranking, but if I did, I have a strange feeling that this would end up on top, or at least in the top 5.

The song is woven around three primary vocal melodies, and two primary riffs, that could all make a wonderful song on their own, but here are compiled to make something beyond that. I love the way the song opens - with just the single solemn vocal, speaking out softly as the muted delay-guitar flutters in the background. I especially love when this melody comes back in right at the climax, as if to give a new high for the song to rise to. Everything has just built up to the top of the universe in intensity with one of the heaviest riffs on the record, but then the intro comes back in, perfectly settling it down before an even bigger and even heavier riff comes flying in for the final chorus. And then I love how that riff was actually also featured in the intro, played softly on the Dead Letter Circus/Jade Puget-esque palm-muted delay guitar, in transitioning the first part into the verse. I could really go on listing the things I love about this track, and there are hundreds of them, and there's really nothing I don't like about it, although my one nitpick would be that some of the softer bits go on a bit long (and by "a bit" I mean two bars), and lose a bit of the intensity, and I am not a fan of the song fading out, but it is forgiven because the song is basically done by then. But on the whole, I seriously cannot name another song that hits me as hard as this one, with all its melodies and riffs and perfect structuring. I may as well name it now as the best song ever, but I know that I would retract it later for perfectionism's sake.

Of the rest of the album, there are still great tracks. "All I Know" is definitely my #2, and is honestly the proper choice for the album's single (I have no idea how "Set Fire To The Hive" managed to catch on, although I would wager bogans had something to do with it). The song has a ridiculously catchy groove and an even catchier vocal melody, layering some radio-worthy hooks over some wank-worthy instrumentals. I really love the second verse on here, how Kenny's vocals become clearer and more emotive, by dropping the Steve Wilson telephone voice effect, as well as the song's bridge, which contains some insane syncopation that even gets a bit too much for me.

So where does Sound Awake fall? Obviously, this isn't a perfect record, as evident by my score for it, but its flaws are all rather small and insignificant. For one, the album is certainly too long. It's undeniably consistent throughout, and aside from "Set Fire To The Hive" and "The Medicine Wears Off", every song here is a solid 7/10 and definitely enjoyable. But the problem lies within the songs, and also within their repetitiveness. I don't care if every song here is good, hearing over an hour of intense and intricate alt-metal is always going to leave me slightly bored come the ending. A track like "The Caudal Lure" is definitely solid, and a great addition to the album, but it leans so heavily on the one fantastic chorus - "we should have known better not to taste the wine we swallow". And as great as it is, I can't help but feel that the entire song would fall down if it wasn't there to continue to be great. While every song here is good, there are moments that I wish this album was more concise, for reasons entirely based around the fact that there are many parts of this album that immediately link back to earlier parts. And also - Kenny's accent does get rather annoying at parts.

The album finishes with two monstrous tracks, both exceeding 10 minutes in length, and I honestly used to use them as a reason to dislike this album. Time and many subsequent listens has revealed their greatness to me, but I still firmly believe they're just a bit too much. Both of them have frequent use of intense tribal drumming, the former with some wonderful palm-mute-delay guitar under it that releases wonderfully to let ring under the hook, and the latter featuring some rumbling bass and the repetitive and rather surreal "hello hollow halo" lines floating above, and of course, a mutha [%*!#]in didgeridoo. How can you have tribal-like Australian music without one of those, right? Both songs are intense and long, but I feel both run their course early and have unnecessary extensions. I love the ending of "Change, Part 2", with the "question who we are" melody and acoustic guitar, but it really feels like an annex, because the song has really completed its purpose after the last chorus. And the last few minutes of "Deadman" are just completely unnecessary, and make a strong track into one that overstays its welcome significantly. Although I do love the brief inclusion of Change Part 1 from Themata at the end - it makes for a glorious transition into its sequel.

Sound Awake is most certainly a classic of modern progressive rock, and one of the most recently crowned classics in my ears. Inventive, influential, insanely tight and yet beautifully melodic, it has set the gold standard for the Australian post-prog sound that we know, and no one has beaten it yet (although Dead Letter Circus came close with This Is the Warning). A wondrous album, containing more or less the greatest song of all time in my opinion, this is proof that progressive rock is still flourishing in the 21st century.

9.4

Originally written for my Facebook page/blog: facebook.com/neoprogisbestprog

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Send comments to Gallifrey (BETA) | Report this review (#831289)
Posted Sunday, September 30, 2012 | Review Permalink
AtomicCrimsonRush
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Symphonic Team
4 stars Aus proggers Karnivool released a dynamic alternative heavy prog album "Sound Awake", reminiscent of Tool, Cardiacs, Live or Soundgarden. Many cite this album as their pinnacle, as it is consistent in quality and innovative approach. It is a lengthy album of almost 80 minutes of powerful melodic and inventive prog rock.

'Simple Boy' drives along on a powerful time sig, confident loud vocals of Ian Kenny, crashing explosive drums, and an infectious chorus. 'Goliath' starts in 7/4 then locks into a weird 6/4 tempo, before the more conventional chorus. The bass tones of Jon Stockman are incredible, with a fuzzy sound and this is complimented by chiming jangly guitar phrases.

'New Day' has a guitar rhythmic intro then some tempo beats come in over the relaxed singing style. It builds to a measured rock vibe, some reverb guitar motifs and a new feel midway through; "hey let's get lost in a crowd, I'll show you much more". The heavier guitars are welcome in the instrumental break and it sounds somewhat like Live, one of my favourite 90s bands, especially their masterpieces "Throwing Copper" and "Secret Samadhi" that they never topped.

'Set Fire To The Hive' is much heavier with caustic phased vocals and some aggressive guitar riffs. This sounds a bit like System of a Down in places. It is the band unleashing a furious attack of raw guitar and pounding drum and bass rhythms, complete with police sirens. 'Umbra' has a nice melodic intro with some complex time sigs to follow. The guitar crashes with high powered drum ferocity, but the vox are soft and gentle in contrast. The light moments are darkened with brutal guitar tones. The lyrics are thought provoking; "Imagine that everything's effected by a cause, well I don't feel so lucky you know" and "set in stone and blood, hold your promise." The ending is wonderful, with low guttural guitar splashes on an urgent drum beat that fade into a spacey tone. 'All I Know' segues seamlessly with an odd quirky riff and nice harmonised singing; "Are you with me, this is more than just infinity, I'm a soul taker, hey is this the end of all I know." The lead guitar break is very pleasant with sustained tones and it breaks into a Tool like rhythm. 'The Medicine Wears Off' is a short piece at 1:49, which is rather melancholy with outstanding singing from Kenny. It leads to 'The Caudal Lure' that veers into odd time sigs from 4/4, 3/4 to 2/4, and the drums of Steve Judd are intricate throughout. It has a rock feel and some blasting guitar riffs.

'Illumine' begins with sonic feedback and very distorted guitars leading to the verse; "don't listen, don't even hear a sound they make, it breaks you, words that haunt you while you're sleeping, you seem afraid, don't be alone." This has a nice melodic line and more commercial in sound then previous songs.

'Deadman' is the longest song at 12 minutes, with cool percussion grooves and rhythmic guitar picking. The vocals are well executed with lyrics such as; "Grab your belongings the exit is near, this can't be happening." The song breaks into a new time sig with faster tempos at the 4 minute mark, this leads to a glorious lead break from Drew Goddard and Mark Hosking. The jerky off sync guitar riff at 9 minutes is a dynamic touch, and then it moves to a low vocal and bells on this excellent highlight. The last section is gentle high register vox, and Pink Floydian guitar sounds. 'Change [Part 2]' is also long (10:47) and another highlight opening with machine grinding crushing guitar blasts. The didgeridoo is killer along with cool vocals and it moves to a section reminding me of Live at 3 and a half minutes in; "what a way to see this thing out, what a way to lay your burden down". The low grinding drone has a Tool sound and the way it blazes into the odd riff sig. The drum solo at the end by Judd is fantastic.

'Roquefort' closes the album with a bright riff and very low end bass, and the vocals are more aggressive. It is more of an FM radio track than others but finishes on a rocker with melody and heavy riffs.

Overall "Sound Awake" is a very dynamic and powerful album that will resonate with fans of Tool yet Karnivool inject their own style with some passion and fire. The riffs are ever changing along with tempo shifts, and the mood throughout is consistent with a dark edge and moody atmospheres. It is an excellent lengthy journey and showcases the best of Australian music at its most alternative and progressive.

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Send comments to AtomicCrimsonRush (BETA) | Report this review (#846871)
Posted Monday, October 29, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars Karnivool expanded on their debut "Themata" with this 2009 release by exploring some more complex songwriting and time signatures. The result is a very solid release with some moments of pure magic.

Right from the start we're treated to something a bit different. The opening track "Simple Boy" kicks off with a xylophone. Then we're hit squarely between the eyes with Jon Stockman's huge bass sound. Distorted and heavy, Stockman achieves a killer tone on this album and is central to the success of many of the tracks.

"Goliath" once again features a pulsating bass line with Drew Goddard and Mark Hosking delivering delay-heavy guitar and brutal power chords to create an intriguing sonic texture.

Vocalist Ian Kenny comes to the fore in "New Day" as the 8 minute epic unfolds. For much of the first half of the song, Kenny is prominent with some nice melodic guitar providing accompaniment. As "New Day" progresses the intensity ramps up before slowing again for the song's outro. In my experience this one has certainly been a crowd favourite live.

"Set Fire to the Hive" is a chaotic metal song. Steve Judd's percussion drives this beast and Kenny indulges in some vocal distortion as Karnivool reaches some of its heaviest moments on the album. One gets the impression the boys had fun tracking this in the studio.

Out of this chaos emerges a gorgeous melody in "Umbra". The layering of guitars is superb and creates a great atmosphere. Unfortunately this isn't sustained throughout the song - the vocal melody is not brilliant and the chorus is somewhat forgettable.

Things are instantly rectified on "All I Know". This is the song that really brought me into the fold as a Karnivool fan. It's amazing from start to finish. Stockman drives the song with an incredibly catchy bassline and the guitars sprinkle the appropriate textures on top. Ian Kenny is at his best with the vocals, and the lyrics are simply out of this world. The question of "Why are we here?" is asked as eloquently as one could ever hope to hear. These are existential musings at their finest.

The second half of the album is inconsistent, but of special mention are "Deadman" and 'Change Part 2". Both of these are definitely worth a look for prog fans in particular. They are 10 minute plus journeys across varying moods and styles. The final track incorporates the didgeridoo and some other instruments, a nice touch from an Australian band.

Overall Karnivool have shown more songwriting maturity with this release and some nice original touches. Combine that with some great rock moments and there's the makings of an album that's worth more than a few spins.

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Send comments to bonestorm (BETA) | Report this review (#954636)
Posted Sunday, May 05, 2013 | Review Permalink

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