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Karnataka Secrets of Angels album cover
3.77 | 97 ratings | 5 reviews | 19% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2015

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Road to Cairo (5:27)
2. Because of You (4:53)
3. Poison Ivy (4:14)
4. Forbidden Dreams (5:48)
5. Borderline (6:19)
6. Fairytale Lies (4:58)
7. Feels Like Home (7:06)
8. Secrets of Angels (20:04)

Total Time 58:49

Line-up / Musicians

- Hayley Griffiths / lead vocals
- Carloenrico Pinna / lead, rhythm & acoustic guitars, vocals
- «agri Tozluoglu / keyboards, programming
- Ian Jones / bass, bass pedals, keyboards, programming, vocals
- Jimmy Pallagrosi / drums & percussion

- Troy Donockley / uilleann pipes, low whistle
- SeŠna Davey / harp
- Rachel vand der Tang / cello
- Clive Howard / viola
- Lynn Cook / violin

Releases information

2LP Immrama Records - KTK LP001 (2015, UK)

CD Immrama Records - KTK CD007 (2015, UK)

Digital album

Thanks to mbzr48 for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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KARNATAKA Secrets of Angels ratings distribution

(97 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(19%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(34%)
Good, but non-essential (37%)
Collectors/fans only (8%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

KARNATAKA Secrets of Angels reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Karnataka released a rather momentous album in 2010, the stunning 'The Gathering Light' that garnered rave critical and fan plaudits, and after a rather long hiatus (5 years) that saw them slightly alter once again their line-up with the departure of the sassy lead singer Lisa Fury, drummer Ian Harris and keyboardist Gonzalo Carrera, they are back with a fine effort indeed. New lead vocalist (and quite ravishing lady) Hayley Griffiths, French drummer Jimmy Pallagrosi and Turkish keyboard master Cagri Tozluoglu add to the tradition of sensational voice, booming percussion and sweeping ivories, keeping the Ian Jones-led Karnataka ship in fine form. Guitarist Enrico Pinna is also back to provide some blistering leads and never disappoints. Again, they opt for another extended epic (as with the preceding album title track 'The Gathering Light', which clocked in at 14 minutes+), the whopping 20 minute opus 'Secrets of Angels' seeks to stamp the proceedings with unmistakable prog-rock credentials.

Vivid pieces like the cinematographic opener 'Road to Cairo' set the mood from the get-go, introducing unpretentious, highly melodic nuggets that have all the elements to please, solid drums pushing and egging all the others forward, the melodies that infect you the very first time you perceive them, a bit like being smitten by love at first hearing, light yet resonatingly profound. From that moment on, each track seems to flow into the next, like riveting chapters in a racy romantic novel, further intoxicating the listener into a miraculous emotion- drenched fantasyland. After returning from Egypt, a delicate piano and orchestral drama on the emotionally heavier 'Because of You', slashed by a monster axe solo awaits the longing listener. A gorgeous love song. Contrast that with the slick 'Poison Ivy', a raging and tempestuous lullaby, led by a choked Griffiths vocal and diseased love lyrics. The swirling symphonics and choir elevate this to a palpitating level, tossing in a venomous verse, just to remind all of us that humans can veer from sweet to bitter in a nano-second. Both the insistent and persistent 'Forbidden Dreams' and its companion, the stormy 'Borderline' offer up instantaneous airs that do not meander in molasses-like slosh, quite the opposite really as the bombastic melodies, mammoth choruses and penetrating verses resonate with power and emphasis.

'Fairytale Lies' is a stunning little jewel, served by a classic melody, sung by a siren-like a voice that would make you feel 'reborn from the ashes' and underpinned by a Pinna solo (hihihi, as Kati would say!), a soulful Griffiths vocal that sears the skies. On a delicious track like 'Feels Like Home', the ingenuity of simplicity comes shining through, a soulful, honest internal reflection on the myriad little mosaic tiles that form our daily routine. The massive title track is deliberately kept at the end, a majestic and grandiose finale that leaves a huge impression of contentment. Brilliantly constructed with recurring Celtic themes (under the leadership of Troy Donockley) , seasoned with delicate pipes, whistles, harps and strings, and garnished with colossal orchestrations, titanic choral effects and opera-like vocals from Hayley , owner of a spectral voice that will raise the hair on your back. It's all there, folks, a heady mixture of expert playing, buzzing bass in tow, tectonic drum blasts, shimmering guitar phrasings and overpowering keyboard colorations that will leave one breathless and content. This is easily one of the finest epic pieces that one will enjoy in 2015.

As with the entire Karnataka catalog, this is not technical wizardry or complex multi-suited symphonies that many demanding progressive fans are constantly searching for but a delightful prog-folk that serves as a meticulous stargate into the prog world for the uninitiated. Accessible yet superbly orchestrated, the feminine style is ideal to woo the gentler sex, propelled by the sultry and passionate lead vocals and founded on compact melodies that will adhere to your soul forever. If you enjoy bands like Panic Room, Mostly Autumn, Harvest and a slew of similar female vocal fronted bands, Karnataka is definitely a pioneering band in this style. Team players they remain firmly, there is never a feeling of overt show-off tendencies that may be offensive, as every note is a slave to the spellbinding melody. Every song is a highlight, a lithesome pearl shining in the emerald waters of sound, gliding over well-beaten rocks like a vivid stream searching for some outlet to the faraway sea. Their best effort yet.

5 Clandestine cherubs

Review by Nightfly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I hadn't bought a Karnataka album since 2003's Delicate Flame of Desire. It's Celtic infused prog folk was pleasant enough but left me a little underwhelmed. However on a recent Classic Rock magazine freebie Cd my attention was caught by the powerful Road To Cairo with its middle-eastern vibe, strong melodies and latest singer Hayley Griffiths crystal clear expressive tones.

Secrets Of Angels turns out to be a pretty good album but Road To Cairo is its best song. I'd question whether much of this music can be classed as prog, symphonic pop would seem a better description for the most part and there's certainly not much trace of the folk elements anymore. It's not complex music but all very slick and well played with a lush production. When I listen to Secrets Of Angels I could imagine a lot of this music sitting comfortably in a west end musical or in the soundtrack to a Walt Disney film like Frozen or Beauty And The Beast. Partly down to Hayley Griffiths classically trained background no doubt but sometimes the music gets a bit too sweet and twee for my tastes, especially the sugary ballad Fairytale Lies.

I did say Secrets Of Angels is a pretty good album though and it certainly does have its moments. Apart from the previously mentioned opener Road To Cairo, Poison Ivy and Borderline hit with a bit more punch. We're not talking metal here of course but the guitars do cut through the symphonic wall of sound a bit more. The album closes on a high with the 20 minute title track, which is a bit more along the lines of my pre-conceived expectations. It shifts from a Celtic flavoured opening into more bombastic orchestral flavoured parts and has plenty of dynamics with more instrumental interplay than the rest of the album put together, but still giving attention to some strong vocal melodies. At last I'm hearing some prog!

Overall then Secrets Of Angels is a pleasant listen with some strong melodies but unlikely to appeal to those who prefer their prog on the more adventurous side. A few more songs like Road To Cairo could have really raised the level considerably. As it stands a worthy 3 stars.

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Formed back in the mid-Nineties, UK band Karnataka originally earned attention with their second album `The Storm', fronted by Rachel Jones who would later sing for The Reasoning. Not as complex as other female-fronted prog-related groups such as White Willow, as overtly `retro-prog' as Magenta sometimes were, nor as gutsy as Mostly Autumn could be, Karnataka always had a more streamlined, straightforward yet classy pop/rock/ballad sound with light progressive qualities. The group are now on their third singer and a reworked line-up, and although the exquisite Hayley Griffiths has been performing live with the group for a few years now (initially brought in to replace singer Lisa Fury from their fourth album `The Gathering Light' who jumped ship pretty much by the time that album was just released!), this is her official studio debut for the band. It's great to report that `Secrets of Angels' is their best work yet that should see the status of the band raise even higher on the strong results they deliver here.

While the previous CD started to liven things up a little, in comparison `Secret of Angels' is bold, confident and delivered with great power and conviction, and although still very much song based, Karnataka's music sounds more sophisticated than ever before. Symphonic synths and dramatic orchestration is plastered over much of the album that even brings hints of gothic touches, more muscular guitars never resort to lazy metal riffing, big soaring choruses are memorable without being obviously commercial, and Hayley's vocals thankfully stay on the right side of musical-theatre without ever becoming cringe- worthy.

`Road to Cairo' is a punchy opener with middle-eastern tinged orchestration, and `Because of You' is the sort of goth-lite hard rocker with a massive chorus that would have made Evanescence a fortune at the peak of their popularity, and it's just as likely to appeal to younger female listeners as well. `Poison Ivy' is breathless and bombastic, the tip-toing melancholic piano verses of `Forbidden Dreams' are lifted by a gutsy chorus, and the more up-tempo `Borderline' stomps with purpose. Two more ballads then pop up - `Fairytale Lies' is highlighted by Hayley's sumptuous multi-layered harmonies and delicate harp throughout, while the deeply romantic `Feels Like Home' should be destined to soundtrack weddings around the world, as well as appealing to devoted couples. Awwww, dat's love, baby!

But the band finally truly stretch their prog legs with the seven-part twenty-minute epic title-track, and after a run of verse- chorus structured pieces, the extra running time allows more longer instrumental sections and less straight-forward passages. It reintroduces some of the light Celtic touches from their earlier albums, and it's unsurprising to find Troy Donockley contributing Uilleann pipes and whistles. There's a strong folk element throughout the piece with powerful symphonic roars, ghostly and ethereal siren calls over harp and plaintive acoustic guitar, cinematic orchestration swells and heroic guitar solos rising in victory. Best of all, some moments not only have a haunting Loreena Mckennitt-like old-world storytelling quality, but some surprising Fish-era Marillion-style Neo Prog glistening synth diversions as well! `Secrets of Angels' is far and away the most enchanting, complex and lavish work from the band yet, a truly defining piece for the group, and they would be wise to attempt even more of these kind of grandiose journeys on further discs!

Despite the album having consistently strong material, the band should definitely play the `prog card' a little more. Many of the earlier songs push the five-six minute mark, yet those are crammed full of vocals the majority of the time, when a few extra choice keyboard/guitar solo breaks would break up the pieces a bit more. But Karnataka have delivered a superb album with plenty of crossover appeal, big melodies and great playing in `Secrets of Angels', and their fans should be more excited than ever at the promising future of the current incarnation of this talented group.

Four stars.

Latest members reviews

3 stars Not quite the seven year gap between albums this time - just the five... as I noted on my last review for KARNATAKA. Though in their defence the group had all moved on (as they had done previously!) but this time the phoenix has risen faster - perhaps they have learnt from the experience... T ... (read more)

Report this review (#1383046) | Posted by huge | Sunday, March 15, 2015 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Karnataka has been around for more than a while. As with other bands orbiting around the Celtic folk-influenced mellow prog aesthetic, this band has been doing their work at a steady pace - releasing very pleasant, if not very pretentious albums once in 3-4 years, getting the response of their s ... (read more)

Report this review (#1382514) | Posted by Thandrus | Saturday, March 14, 2015 | Review Permanlink

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