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Karnivool biography
Founded in Perth, Australia in 1997

In Western Australia during 1997 while still at high school, singer Ian KENNY formed a hard rock band playing mostly covers of Grunge acts. By '98, KENNY completely changed the lineup, began playing original music and christened the project KARNIVOOL after the rollicking reputation the members had around Perth. Guitarist Andrew GODDARD, Brett McKENZIE's drums and the bass of Andrew BROWN made-up the group then, only to alter again in mid-2000, this time with Jon STOCKMAN [bass] & Ray HAWKING [drums]. Later Mark HOSKING would join GODDARD on guitar and Steve JUDD replaced HAWKING's drums.

1999 saw their first release, a self-titled EP followed in 2001 by second EP 'Persona'. That same year Australia's WAMi Awards dubbed them 'Best Original Metal Act' (the group would be awarded a slew of more WAMis in 2007). The debut album 'Themata' was released in early 2005 through MGM followed in 2009 by 'Sound Awake'. Appreciators of A PERFECT CIRCLE, The MARS VOLTA, intense stuff as CARCASS, and the Grungier sounds of NIRVANA and SOUNDGARDEN will enjoy KARNIVOOL.

- Atavachron (David) -

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KARNIVOOL discography

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KARNIVOOL top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.54 | 103 ratings
4.09 | 289 ratings
Sound Awake
3.54 | 108 ratings

KARNIVOOL Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

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KARNIVOOL Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.37 | 19 ratings


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Sound Awake by KARNIVOOL album cover Studio Album, 2009
4.09 | 289 ratings

Sound Awake
Karnivool Heavy Prog

Review by CassandraLeo

5 stars Every once in awhile, most music listeners are going to discover an album that feels like it was made specifically for them, but somehow managed to slip under their radar for an obscenely long time. Sound Awake has proved to be one of those albums for me.

Without going into too much personal detail, I'll simply say that the months of February and March 2019 have been extremely difficult from a physical and mental health perspective for me. I haven't been in any danger of death, but I've seldom been this sick since my childhood, which has also left my emotional and mental health in a questionable state.

It has been against this background that I first heard Sound Awake. I'm sure I'd heard the name Karnivool before 2019, but it wasn't in any context that made it seem like it was a name I needed to pay attention to. A friend with trusted music taste suggested I listen to their music in January, however, and I got around to Sound Awake in February because it had the highest rating here.

This album grabbed my attention from the first note. I immediately liked the melodies, but it was the clever Led Zeppelin reference midway through the first song that made me suspect there was something truly special here. The whole album held my attention well enough that I wanted to put it on again fairly soon after it ended.

It's fairly rare for an album to blend immediately memorable melodies with great musical depth. I would contend that this is one of those rare albums. I would compare it to Wobbler's From Silence to Somewhere in this respect. The two bands don't sound much alike, to be clear - Wobbler is the sort of classicist symphonic prog band where you have to listen hard for any musical features to distinguish the band from '70s progressive groups (those features are there, to be clear, but they're relatively subtle), while Karnivool has a slick modern rock sound for better and worse (the "worse" in this case mostly being the typical loudness war mastering, which in my book is the only significant weakness of this album). But both bands know how to compose immediately compelling melodies without sacrificing replay value.

I won't go through a track-by-track review here. A few highlights, for my money, are "Change", "Deadman", "The Caudal Lure", and "Umbra", but despite its long running time, this isn't one of those albums where it'd be possible to do without some of the songs; they all serve an essential purpose here. There aren't as many actual songs as the track listing makes it seem, anyway - "The Medicine Wears Off" is essentially the first movement of "The Caudal Lure", and while "Illumine" is clearly a separate song, it's so cleverly linked to its predecessor that I prefer to think of them as a long, continuous suite of music. (While we're at it, part of "Change" is actually indexed as part of "Deadman" - the latter track runs for about 10:11 and the former for about 12:40.)

But I'm not really here to talk about the individual songs. The band's composition is on point throughout; all of the songs possess the mixture of strong melodies and musical depth that are far too rare in modern music. This band is frequently written off as a Tool clone, but even though the band themselves acknowledge Tool's influence on them, I feel that influence is often overstated in the musical press. Drummer Steve Judd has obviously listened judiciously to Tool's Danny Carey, but overall, I hear more Porcupine Tree in Karnivool's sound than I hear Tool.

When music is this strongly composed, though, I also feel playing spot-the-musical-influence is missing the point (though as an aside, I will add that "Set Fire to the Hive" strikes me as Karnivool's attempt to write an At the Drive-In song, and it's quite successful). Karnivool has enough depth to their sound to make them more than the sum of their influences. A large part of that is due to the band's strength as musicians. Kenny is a superb vocalist and the guitar parts from Goddard and Hosking are strong throughout, but I feel the real stars of the show are Stockman and Judd. This album's performances rest on the strength of its rhythmic foundation, and both of them are up to the task.

I've listened to this album some twenty times since I first heard it last month, in no small part because I find it difficult to listen to it only once. Somehow, I haven't even gotten sick of it. I think that's because, as I said, I've been going through a particularly difficult time, and this album has turned into a significant comfort. In a way, it is so good that I find it difficult to evaluate the band's other work fairly. I've liked Asymmetry both times I've listened to it so far, but I'm too preoccupied with this album to give its successor the attention it clearly deserves. I haven't even put the band's earlier work on yet, though I'm sure it's also good.

If this band somehow slipped under your radar too, give them a chance. I find it very difficult to imagine very many progressive rock fans disliking this album. For my money it's one of the finest albums of the '00s.

 Themata by KARNIVOOL album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.54 | 103 ratings

Karnivool Heavy Prog

Review by Kempokid
Collaborator Prog Metal Team

3 stars Despite Karnivool playing a large part in the Australian prog scene, this album more resembles that of an alt metal one. The guitar riffs are mostly simple, the vocals are quite standard for alt metal, and the production is crystal clear in such a way that really highlights the more standard rock sound of them. However, there is still definitely some proggier elements to the band, especially in terms of the rhythm section, which definitely brings some interesting things to the table at times.

There are only 4 songs on the album which I consider to be of very high quality, 'Cote', 'Themata', 'Roquefort' and 'Mauseum'. with the rest serving as decent tracks, but nothing particularly special. 'Cote' is quite a beautiful opener with good riffs and fairly good, emotional vocals, overall opening the album in an adequate way. 'Themata' definitely picks things up immensely, with a much more dynamic song with a lot of powerful behind it. I love how the keyboards has a slight Egyptian/Middle Eastern sound to it, and I also find the drumming to be really great, becoming more energetic as the song progresses, constantly raising the impact of the incredible chorus. 'Roquefort' is without question the best song this album has to offer, starting off with a killer intro riff that plays around with rhythm and time signatures quite a lot, along with being extremely fun and groovy. Making things even better is the great vocal performance, being more loose, but having a certain playfulness to it that sounds great. 'Mauseum' is mostly a great song due to the riffs, which have a slight djent edge to them that really has it stand out, along with some entertaining rhythm sections.

Unfortunately, I find the rest of the album to be nothing particularly special, with many songs sounding very similar to one another, often somewhat repetitive in nature. These songs tend to be good, bug simply nothing particularly great. There are a couple of songs that sound quite poor though, one being 'Life Like' which at points sounds like a filler song by 'Disturbed' and is just generally boring.

This is an album composed of peaks and valleys, with a couple of chasms strewn throughout. The peaks are all extremely good songs that are catchy and fun while also having some really great technical elements, and the valleys are mostly decent. The really low points on the album are quite cheesy, bland and generally awful, but overall, the album is serviceable. 'Karnivool' definitely went on to improve with their next album, 'Sound Awake' which had much better compositions with more variety and a much more interesting, proggy sound all around, but this album is fairly average in many parts.

Best Songs: Themata, Roquefort, Mauseum

Weakest Songs: Life Like, Sewn and Silent, Change (Part 1)

Verdict: Definitely a must for any fans of alt metal, but other than that, I don't think that this is a must listen by any means, other than the songs I've listed as best on the album, as the rest is quite samey. The rhythm sections are quite interesting, but it doesn't stop this from being an album with some large flaws in places.

 Sound Awake by KARNIVOOL album cover Studio Album, 2009
4.09 | 289 ratings

Sound Awake
Karnivool Heavy Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Karnivool's Sound Awake finds the band making perhaps their most gripping and seamless expression of their blend of alternative metal and progressive rock. In the "metal bands who've listened to a bunch of Pink Floyd" stakes, they rank well alongside acts like Anathema - and truth be told, I find them less dependent on heavy handed Floyd-isms than Anathema and much more original in their sound. That said, I still find that this is a bit of a hit-or-miss album; in particular, the band are building this prog edifice based on a foundation from the poppier end of alt-metal, which bugged me and I suspect may bug other listeners who find alternative metal to be a bit of a mixed bag.
 Themata by KARNIVOOL album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.54 | 103 ratings

Karnivool Heavy Prog

Review by Bucklebutt

3 stars Warning: Boring review ahead.

This is an enjoyable alt-rock album that is very light on the prog, but shows more depth than most of the popular modern radio rock. There is no doubt that this album isn't derivative and largely inspired by many other artists, but what it does show is huge promise in sheer musicianship, the rhythm section kills it. It has plenty of catchy moments ripe for the picking for the angsty teen lying dormant within us all.

Giving this album to a 13 yr old would probably be doing them a favor considering most of the popular alternatives out there.

 Asymmetry by KARNIVOOL album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.54 | 108 ratings

Karnivool Heavy Prog

Review by Bucklebutt

2 stars When I first found this band and listened to their albums Themata and Sound Awake, their trajectory had me pretty excited. Themata is a great alt-rock album with plenty of solid songs. Sound Awake took it up a prog notch and the result is one of my absolute favorite heavy prog albums out there, it is my aim to one day be able to drum along to the track Deadman, love it. Then 4 years later I get Asymmetry?

It's not a terrible album and there are some moments that I really generally enjoy, but those are few and far between. There isn't really a single song on the album that even stands out, the few with the moments I enjoy all have weak parts that are too much to overlook. The choruses typically go for a poppier alt-rock sound reminiscent of Themata and the heavier moments all seem to have the same reverb heavy sound with a rhythm that doesn't ever really go anywhere.

I really hope the next record takes another direction, there is no doubt that these aren't great musicians. Looking forward to the next album with fingers crossed.

 Themata by KARNIVOOL album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.54 | 103 ratings

Karnivool Heavy Prog

Review by Gallifrey

5 stars 10 Years On: Karnivool's Themata

Not gonna lie, I absolutely completely did not expect this.

Karnivool is one of those bands that you expect to change. Any band that has four-year gaps between albums and yet still manages to have a cult of dickriders following their every move doesn't get there by repeating themselves. The big gap in style between the utterly brilliant Sound Awake and the rather quite mediocre Asymmetry had me bracing for the worst when I finally got around to listening to Themata. Coming into this record, I expected generic riff rock with a couple of catchy hooks and some very subtle underlying prog influence that would suggest what was to come. I didn't expect it to be one of the finest examples of post-prog I have heard.

I get it now though. I get how Karnivool became the biggest thing in the Australia. This album, with its arty take on a long-mocked genre, in combination with said arty tracks being blasted 24/7 on Aussie radio, inspired legions of teenagers who only listened to Linkin Park to try and think a bit more about their music. And it was this, not Sound Awake, that prompted the wave of post- prog bands we now refer to as "Ozprog" within Australia to appear and take over the airwaves. Sure, those bands only started to properly appear until 2007-8, but I'm sure this, and to a lesser extent The New Normal, were the albums that inspired them. Many bands actually pushed the envelope of prog-ness further than Karnivool did with Themata, which is what I personally believe inspired Sound Awake. That album was just Karnivool observing what they had influenced and saying "we want to take it further", and in doing so created one of the best albums of all time, and made all the bands who had respected and taken influence from them bow down and worship the ground they walked on.

I will not hesitate to say that this is the greatest alternative metal album of all time. At least, in the traditional use of the term "alternative metal" (as opposed to the modern usage, meaning "metal I don't like"). This has pop structures, big choruses, chunky, grungy guitar tones, dramatic Maynard-esque vocals, and, of course, unnecessary bouts of subtle nu metal-isms. But somehow Karnivool do this whilst simultaneously pulling out some of the best songs the genre has seen.

The first five songs are pretty much the best examples of heavy mid-2000's alternative rock. Hell, the first two songs alone could be runners for the best songs in that area of all time. The metal element here is there, but more to the side than right up front. Opening with "Cote", Karnivool seamlessly link accessible, hook-oriented choruses and verses with intricate and off-kilter rhythms with an ease A Perfect Circle could only dream of. The difference between this song and the better short cuts on Sound Awake are pretty minimal, which was why I was a bit confused by the people saying this album's sound is massively different. The muted guitar licks under the verse are not only incredibly prog, but are more or less straight off Sound Awake. Aside from those, the rest of the song reminds me a whole lot of the not-yet-formed Dead Letter Circus, particularly in Kenny's vocals and the rhythms behind the guitars. There's none of their distinctive production here - this still sounds like Karnivool, but it's so clear that this was one of the songs that inspired them to make music like they do.

Then straight after we get the title track, which I must say continues this album's form brilliantly. This track comes on the opposite end of the scale, whereas Cote was tight and intricate, this goes for grandiose and epic, sounding like a cross between Tool and Muse. The grooves and the over-the-top melodies are the focus here, with the verse containing some insane Tool-esque jams, and even Kenny getting his alt-metal vocals in (somehow without sucking), but the chorus is right out of the books of the aughts' best stadium rock bands. If we're continuing to list off future bands that would rip this album off, I'm hearing some serious Breaking Orbit vibes in this song (the violin here sounds distinctly like Orphaned Land, too, but I wouldn't call that an influence). Speaking of the violin, how prog is that? You don't get that in generic radio rock. And it really does make the final chorus as big as it wants to be, fantastic work.

Although the album never quite returns to the absolutely flawless glory of this opening pair, the quality doesn't drop off there. "Shutterspeed" is a touch too bottom-heavy (in terms of the guitars, not the length), but it contains some excellent jams and one of the best choruses on the album. Again, big Dead Letter Circus vibes on this track. "Fear of the Sky" is probably the weakest of the first five, but still has some seriously good parts within. An awesome chorus on that one, but I feel that's really all it's got going for it. "Roquefort" is a long-time fan-favourite, and one of the few fan favourites from this band that I'm having trouble seeing why. I mean, it's great, but not really as absolutely mindblowing as the opening two on this album. It's a bit too lenient on the low-end riffing for my tastes, and the choruses are only slightly awesome as opposed to completely awesome.

But if there's anything that brings Themata down, it's the fact that this is an album of a band who used to play angsty, childish, low-brow music slowly realising that they have the ability to do something more than that, and the transition is not fully there. After the great, melodic glory of the first five tracks we have an odd pair in "Lifelike" and "Scarabs", which both show Karnivool's juvenile beginnings all too clearly. "Lifelike" was originally released as a single two years earlier, stylised rather hilariously as "L1feL1ke", in true nu metal style. It's actually not a bad song, but it's delivered with such generic early 00's angst that any strong parts in it feel corny and cliched. The guitars are way too heavy for the song's merits, and are only heavy in a really try-hard, nu-metal sort of way. And Kenny's vocals seem to go far past his normal Maynard-isms into sounding like David Draiman from Disturbed, but unlike Draiman (someone whose voice I consider a bit guilty pleasure of mine), Kenny's voice isn't suited for the rhythmic, almost rapping style, and does sound a bit off. "Scarabs", being instrumental, doesn't even have a good chorus to hold it up, and just sits around as an awkward inclusion of over-distorted guitars in an album that mostly used them pretty well. Fans of "djent" might find this song to their fancy, but I see it as utterly pointless. Both of these songs could have easily been cut, especially given the fact that the album gets straight back into swing as soon as they're done. Even of the great songs here, the corny early 00's nu metal influence is there are cutting slowly away at flawless material. The aforementioned title track and "Shutterspeed" both have guitar tones that are way too heavy and loud for their uses.

"Synops" is clearly the highlight of the second half, being one of the more progressive tracks on the record overall. A mostly soft track, focusing on a great bass groove and Kenny's vocal hooks, the only real problem with it is that it should be the climax to the album, which it doesn't really seem to do.

And speaking of climaxes (or the lack of them), the way this album finishes has been the point of much discussion, given that it essentially finishes on an unresolved chord with a short, three- minute track labeled "part one". But as someone who got into this band by listening to Sound Awake back to front two dozen times without hearing this once, I absolutely love it. It's so ominous and gloomy, suggesting so subtly at something massive just over the horizon, but never quite getting there. Even the 20-second track "Omitted for Clarity", which contains no sound whatsoever, gets points for me because of the massive suspense it builds. This is the aftermath, the final scene after the credits have rolled that shows that the bad guy didn't die after all. I'm not afraid to admit that I get chills every time that final guitar line comes in, and despite the fact that this song is barely a song, it's probably one of my favourites on this whole album. A bold move, no doubt, but one I feel absolutely works in every way. The only problem I have with "Change, part one" is that along with the similarly anticlimactic "Synops", it does leave the album a bit cold. If Karnivool had included a massive, heavy, epic track after "Synops", this ending could go down as one of the best album finishes of all time.

Honestly, getting into this album has been absolutely fantastic, and I will now not hesitate to proclaim Karnivool as one of the best rock bands of the 2000's. They come in with a debut record that absolutely destroys the cliches of a very cliched genre to create a powerful, song-oriented masterpiece, and then four years later take it, smash it to bits, and build it into a progressive rock monolith. Screw the people who say Sound Awake is their only good album, I say they're only god-tier when you view them together, as two sides to a story. Hearing how good this is too has made me realise what a move Sound Awake was. Many bands would be happy with drilling out the same thing again, but Karnivool didn't want that. How do you top an album of near-perfect 5- minute alt-metal songs? Turn them into 10-minute progressive songs.

This? This is fantastic. There are drawbacks, yes, but this is one of the most accomplished debut albums I have ever heard.


Originally written for my Facebook page/blog:

 Asymmetry by KARNIVOOL album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.54 | 108 ratings

Karnivool Heavy Prog

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

4 stars Karnivool are an Australian band that I had heard of, being Australian, some years back when there was quite a fuss over their rise to fame in this country. "Themata" released in 2005 seemed to buzz by without raising too much of a stir outside of Perth, but 2009's "Sound Awake" was hailed as an Aussie classic and really made the country aware of how great Karnivool are. This latest release is actually heavier in every department with very strong emphasis on distorted rhythm guitar with a metal sound and pounding percussion and a deep resonating bass. The vocals remind me of Tool or Soundgarden on this latest release "Assymetry". The artists present are Ian Kenny on vocals, Andrew "Drew" Goddard on guitar, Mark "Hoss" Hosking on guitar, Jon Stockman on bass and Steve Judd on drums.

From the outset on the drones of 'Aum' the band have adopted a darker sound with definite influences of Tool, especially in the off kilter rhythms and odd time sigs of 'Nachash'. The deep resonance of the bass synth gives this an industrial metal feel and the guitar riffs are as exploratory as Tool. The guitars are executed with inventive relish and blast with a distorted machine grinding ferocity; check out the intro to 'A.M. War' that is one of their outstanding tracks. The time sig is so fractured it wakes up the ear on every listen and has an unsettling effect with its broken cadence. The drums are incredible on this track reminding me of the intricate work of The Cardiacs. There are many switches of tempo throughout the album but this track takes so many twists and turns it is veritably spellbinding. I was surprised as there was nothing like this on their previous album and it is a change for the better. Listen to 'A.M. War' to hear one of the most chaotic time sigs in years! It is unbelievable and must have really shaken up old Karnivool fans. At one stage when the tempo gets fast it is hard to locate the actual rhythm as it competes so dissonantly with the other instruments. I must admit I loved this battle of the instruments complete with its beautiful chaos.

Following this brilliant track is 'We Are' that is also very riff heavy and features Kenny's exceptional vocals and Goddard and Hosking going ballistic on guitars. This is a more FM alternative sound but the album needed some commercial sounds after the previous tracks, and this became the single deservedly. 'The Refusal' features booming guitar distortion and some screamo vocals over relentless drum crashes and bass runs that are a constant presence, very much like Oceansize or A Perfect Circle.

'Aeons' is a more lengthy track at 7:18 and feels like a Porcupine Tree song in the opening, especially in the vocals. It builds from reverberated tremolo guitar to strong synth lines and the rhythm section of drums and bass. I was reminded of The Mars Volta once the time sig became chaotic and then it settles into spacey passages and lyrics about chemical fires; "will I breathe again, will my lungs fill with fire, when the smoke clears who will still remain here."

'Asymmetry' is a short sharp burst of prog that loops a sequenced keyboard and is joined by distant vocals and distorted improvised guitar as heavy as the sound of Sunn O))). It feels like a transition, a real oddity, and leads to 'Eidolon' with a pleasant bassline and gentle guitar joined by crystalline vocals. The lyrics are reflective "maybe I'm just too proud to stand in your defense, still I feel the pull of hidden wires, I'm never gonna try again to speak my mind." This song is more radio friendly and accessible, certainly a welcome change after the high strangeness previous. The melody is infectious and really stays with you unlike the unusual approach of constantly switching time sigs on other tracks.

'Sky Machine' is a longer track at 7:49, beginning with multi-tracked vocal harmonies and stunning drum tempos. Inevitably the heavy guitars crash through and then a great melody in the verses is heard. I love the sound of the guitars the way they reverb and overlap on this track. It is also wonderful when the music settles down and we hear the warm vocals of Kenny in the mid section.

'Amusia' is a transition that is just odd but delivers nothing to enhance the album at all. I am quite perplexed with the short transitions and really believe they would have been better used as intros to lengthen the rather short songs. They simply don't offer anything and feel like fillers. 'The Last Few' returns to the more intricate layers of musicianship and feels a bit messy though I admire the rather innovative percussion sounds, that are the opposite to any prosaic approach of most alternative bands these days. It is difficult to locate any semblance of melody and this just swishes by with a lot of sound but very little substance in terms of melody or structure. The album has run into a lull at this point after its blistering start so I hoped the next few songs would be outstanding.

'Float' is a psychedelic exploration with reverberations of glissando guitar in the Steve Hackett tradition. The vocals are sung in falsetto and are very emotive on this track. There is genuine beauty here and it literally feels as though it were floating along with chiming reverb attached to distant droning harmonics. The feeling of melancholy is strong and yet it feels as though a ray of hope is shining with the repeated "just enough to get by".

'Alpha Omega' is more like a real song without all the complexities and even features an infectious melody that can easily be recalled. 'Om' concludes on yet another oddity that is an instrumental of piano free form style, and enhanced by eerie atmospherics that sounded like Godspeed You! Black Emperor for a moment. When the recorded interview begins it sounds even moreso like GY!BE and yet I am at a loss as to what the band are trying to achieve with this strange ending; is it after all a concept album? And if so what it is it all about?

At the end of the latest Karnivool album I am once again left pondering what a masterpiece it could have been had it been more structured and made some kind of sense; perhaps even a plausible concept would have helped but it all seems to have been thrown together randomly. This is okay for a commercial album where the listener is not more demanding and just wants to hear a bunch of songs they can sing or dance to, but surely a prog band should deliver more, especially after 4 years hiatus. Karnivool certainly are not commercial or a band you would likely dance to, moreover they are thought provoking and inventive at their best, but the problem is in the short transitions and filler material that mars the rest of the outstanding work; it doesn't seem to serve any purpose. I am still impressed by this album in many ways and believe it deserves recognition for its innovative approach to the medium, especially on songs such as 'A.M. War.' The album has received attacks from the prog community for its chaotic soundscapes and lack of structure and I can see this is justified, but nevertheless the musicianship is outstanding, if a little too clever for its own good. It is excellent music though and a great way to idle the hour away on a lazy evening with the headphones cemented on. Karnivool refuse to sell out to the commercial trappings of so many other alternative bands and maintain intricate musicianship without languishing into dull radio friendly mush. For this very reason and for their innovative approach they deserve better exposure in the prog community and should be given a chance as I believe the offer a great deal and are a very original and talented band.

 Asymmetry by KARNIVOOL album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.54 | 108 ratings

Karnivool Heavy Prog

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

5 stars Warning: This is an album that requires headphones or a very good speaker system in order to fully appreciate! With Karnivool's third release, Asymmetry, I am seeing a lot of growth, a lot of branching out in terms of influences and styles. There is still a lot of TOOL/MAYNARD JAMES KEENAN similarities-especially in the wonderful voice of singer, Ian Kenny--but add to that more THE MARS VOLTA/OMAR LOPEZ-RODRIGUEZ, OPETH/MIKHAEL AKERFELD, and OCEANSIZE as well as an incredibly full palette display of engineering techniques, all the while maintaining clear access to the individual instrumental tracks in what could have been a murky, soupy mess. In my opinion this is an aural and sonic masterpiece; the band has easily surpassed their wonderful 2009 album, Sound Awake. New producer, Nick DiDia, has helped the band achieve new heights.

1. "Aum" (2:22) is a kind of spacey meditative intro. Not much really to like or dislike.

2. "Nachash" (4:50) sees the band move straight into its TOOL-like territory but then they back off into some very delicate, spacey territory. There is an awesome vocal section beginning at 3:25 with "Wait!" and then culminating in a great guitar scream before the return to the original high octane pace and sound. The two guitars battle it out with Judd's drum play for the final 45 seconds. Awesome. (9/10)

3. "A.M. War" (5:18) opens with a catchy metallic guitar arpeggio riff before the bottomed- out bass and rest of the band join in full force, full throttle. The song overall reminds me of OCEANSIZE Frames era. (9/10)

4. "We Are" (5:56) begins with a little bit of techno-funk similar to some of Omar Rodriguez's solo work. I just love Jon Stockman's bass play throughout this song. I also love the impassioned vocal, the background keyboard flourishes and the almost "incidental" electric guitar embellishments. Great engineering/production on this, one of the most impressive songs I've heard all year! (10/10)

5. "The Refusal" (4:54) has a very heavy edge to it, like something I'd hear on OCTANE radio?Skillet or TMV?even in the bare bones section beginning at 2:05 there is a MAYNARD-like edge. Again, awesome engineering and production throughout the last two minutes. (8/10)

6. "Aeons" (7:18) begins with some spacey, echoed tremolo guitar notes before synth and amazing bass and drums join in. Incredible beginning! Delicate singing voice enters at 1:15 to tell us that he doesn't feel so well. Amazing use of heavy, thick instrumental sounds balanced by an empty spaciousness that is simply stunning! Gorgeous floating guitar in the first mid-song interlude before the TMV-like barrage of sound enters again. Another stepped down section fills the sixth minute as the vocalist sings about chemical fires signaling our death. Another favorite. (10/10)

7. "Asymmetry" (2:36) uses an odd sound loop to gradually set up some heavily distorted free form guitar play. The top-notch engineering of this album again comes shining through. (9/10)

8. "Eidolon" (3:45) offers a very catchy MUSE-like song--rather sedate when compared to the previous lineup. Again, I love all of the amazing incidentals running through the spaces and background of the music. (9/10)

9. "Sky Machine" (7:49) opens with some gorgeous multi-layered singing supported by delicate guitar and awesome drumming. A little EDGE/U2 feel to this song though the vocal is like some of MAYNARD JAMES KEENAN's most sensitive. Even the more amped up section beginning at 5:30 is quite extraordinary for its beauty and sensitivity. Awesome song. Love this guitar work. (9/10)

10. "Amusia" (0:54) is another off-kilter sonic interlude which bleeds into/sets up

11. "The Last Few" (5:15) opens up Karnivool's new TOOL/TMV meld style: quite intricately planned, complicated, layered music with a more polished version of the raw freneticism of Omar and co. The vocal and melody is, unfortunately, a little weaker than the previous offerings, giving the song a bit of a flat feel to it. (8/10)

12. "Float" (4:17) carries over a psychedelia feel from the ending of the previous song for its first 30 seconds before emptying out with a spacey treated guitar almost as if KLAUS SCHULZE were manipulating the delicate guitar play of 1974 GENESIS/STEVE HACKETT. Kenny's masterful vocal remains in his highest registers throughout the song. The space- treated instrumentation is quite effective. (9/10)

13. "Alpha Omega" (7:57) put an emotional Maynard James Keenan singing over some acid drawn out Led Zepellin being played by OPETH and I think this is what you might get. (9/10)

14. "Om" (3:52) is another odd, spacey instrumental using dissonance and random piano notes tied together only through their chromatic commonality to bookend. In the second half there is being played a tape recorded interview RE empathy and bliss, the common sound and color beneath it all. (9/10)

Unlike some of my fellow reviewer here on PA, I am finding that this album is haunting me--staying with me and drawing me back for more plays of "We Are" and Aeons" and "Float" and "Alpha Omega" and "Nachash" and even the poppier "Eidolon." Asymmetry is easily one of the most unique and memorable albums I've heard this year. I think special mention must go out to each of the individual musicians involved with this album--including the engineer and producer. Steve Judd's drumming is always solid and idiosyncratic. Jon Stockman's bass stylings are amazingly diverse and always interesting. Guitarists Goddard and Hosking are amazing in their sound palettes, temperaments, and mature ability to hold back, reserve, instead of always flash and flourish. The "risks" taken in these compositions and performances can only be described as mature and virtuosic. The "asymmetry" of heavy mixed with delicate and subtle, virtuosic flash mixed with astoundingly simple is masterful. In my humble opinion, these are some of the finest, freshest proggers on the planet and they have created one of the best albums of 2013.

 Asymmetry by KARNIVOOL album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.54 | 108 ratings

Karnivool Heavy Prog

Review by Second Life Syndrome
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Sometimes, you just shouldn't. Karnivool has never been a band that I really enjoy. "Themata" is an excellent album, for sure. Even "Sound Awake" had a few excellent tracks. With their new release "Asymmetry" , I'm struggling to find anything at all that justifies this album's existence. There isn't any inspiration here at all.

Sometimes, you need someone to tell you "no". That's one of the major problems here. Karnivool definitely leans towards the metal side of the heavy prog genre, and so this album is fairly heavy, guitar-driven, and technical as can be. That's right. This album is one of the most technical albums I've ever heard. I'm not even sure that the band stays in the same time signature for more than a few seconds at a time. It's ridiculous! In my opinion, this is not a good thing. Sometimes, you need to stop showboating. The technical emphasis is so strong that the "songs" almost lose their actual musicality! Yes, sometimes I'm not even sure if much of this album can be called music. No melody. No harmony. No restraint. Just an overload of technical crap. The lyrics are all tacked-on, certainly.

The half-way point of the album changes some of these things. We actually get a few slower songs, "Sky Machine" being an example of this. And you know what? "Sky Machine" might be the best song on this album! The album finishes out with a few good tracks that actually elevate this album as a whole. The first half, however, is pretentious and chaotic. It's a mess, to be frank. Sure, it's impressive to a point, but not something I want to hear again. Sometimes, you just need to check yourself.

 Asymmetry by KARNIVOOL album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.54 | 108 ratings

Karnivool Heavy Prog

Review by Wolfhound

3 stars I was stoked to see this finally show up on the Amazon MP3 store and after several playthroughs I won't say that I am disappointed by the album, but I will say that I will say that only about half of it is very memorable. I feel there are moments where the music really grabs me but there is a good portion of stuff that sounds like throw- offs from previous albums or short, perplexing experiments and don't really bring much to the listening experience. This album almost feels like they were going for some kind of concept album at times (I dunno...were they?) because there are some shorter more ambient/experimental songs that don't really connect to anything at all. Aum and Om begin and end the album as this type of ambient/experimental songs that are really too short to really go anywhere and to disconnected from the rest of the songs. I almost wanted to give this 4 stars because if you cut out everything but Aeons, Asymmetry, Eidolon, Sky Machine, Float and Alpha then it makes for a great listening experience (to me at least). The rest of the stuff doesn't really appeal to me all that much, although I won't say the other songs are terrible; some are just too jarring and dissonant for my tastes and others are too short and isolated in their ambient/experimental disconnection from the other material.

Of the songs I really liked, being Asymmetry through Sky Machine plus Float and Alpha I think that all of those songs are too short. There are no 10+ minute songs on this album unless you join together some of the songs like Amusia and The Last Few (those two really should be one song as Amusia is just an incredibly short and mostly noisy intro to The Last Few). Asymmetry and Eidolon are faaaar too short to be the epic songs they could have been. Asymmetry almost seems like it should be the lead-in to Eidolon but they don't really flow together all that well and thus each one should have been longer more stand-alone songs.

So ultimately I enjoyed maybe half the album and didn't really care for the other half of the album, but the half I enjoyed I really liked despite that half being too short. Way too many songs on this album clocking in at 3 minutes or less, some of which aren't really songs but strange experiments that should have just been released on a separate 'oddities' EP or something.

Thanks to atavachron for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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