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Karnivool - 2009 Sound Awake

ARTIST: Karnivool
ALBUM: Sound Awake
LABEL: Self Released
YEAR: 2009


LINEUP: Ian Kenny - vocals * Drew Goddard - guitars * Mark Hosking - guitars * Jon Stockman - bass * Steve Judd - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Simple Boy * 02 Goliath * 03 New Day * 04 Set Fire To The Hive * 05 Umbra * 06 All I Know * 07 The Medicine Wears Off * 08 The Caudal Lure * 09 Illumine * 10 Deadman * 11 Change



Perth band Karnivool are a new name to me. As a recent resident of Western Australia, I thought it was about time to check out the local talent, and see if there is anything of melodious intent on offer. It's been a longtime between drinks. W.A has seen bands such as Ice Tiger (anyone remember them from the hair metal 80's days?) plus of course the Eurogliders and Baby Animals draw their heritage and inspiration from the edge of the western desert, but not a lot else of consequence. In the modern era, metallers Karnivool have etched their name into the red brick dust of Perth's new realm of metal bands, and if you would believe the hype from some of Australia's so-called authorities on metal in the 21st century, they would have you believe that these guys are the biggest stars on the continent.. Err, not quite, but the way things are going, I don't think it'll take them long. There's a lot to like with Karnivool's sound, but personally, I think it's far too complex and over the top for the basic Aussie bogan equipped to only deal with one bottle of Emu Bitter at a time! European audiences I feel will lap these guys up in next to no time. The media will tell you that it's post Tool sounding alt metal. Um, I don't hear it, and no disrespect to Tool and to the idiot who made this declaration, but Karnivool are playing magnificent progressive complex melodic metal, not making noise! This is the band's second major release since forming back in 1997. 'Themata' was their first significant CD, released back in 2005. Fans have been reported as saying that 'Sound Awake' is a huge improvement on what was an excellent start with 'Themata'.. so that says something.

The Songs
I was quite excited when I first heard some snippets from 'Sound Awake', but upon deeper listen, it's very easy to get lost in the delivery, which is a good sign for this listener at least. Yes, some of these song are quite long, only three of the eleven songs are under 5 minutes. Things start out promising with the Queensryche sounding 'Simple Boy', the boisterous bass lines adding a thunderous bottom end which lacks for subtlety, but ultimately sounding muddy too, but it's part and parcel of the sub-genre we're in. 'Goliath' is a track that gets better the more you get into it, the heavy riffs are leadweight, but melodic too, and toward the end Karnivool really turn it up with some twisted guitar parts. 'New Day' is simply a beautiful melodic track played at half-pace. It's not that ambient, but it does have atmosphere, and eventually heavies up while keeping it melodic all the way to the end of the 8 minute playing time. 'Set Fire To The Hive' is the first single and video from the album. It's quite an intense and angst-ridden track. If this was played back in my homeland of New Zealand, the band could be arrested for political sedition, seeing as the house of Parliament back in Godzone is known as The Beehive! The melodic lines on 'Umbra' border on majestic. It meanders through several different musical passages, undulating through moments of metallic intensity and quiet reflection.. an unusual contrast but it works. Subtle harmonics introduce 'All I Know', showing Karnivool's musical depth without relying too much on riffs blitzed through a distortion pedal or an effects rack. In fact, there seems to be more keyboards on this one, adding to the overall effect. We'll skip the short interlude that is 'The Medicine Wears Off' and shift straight into the rather different 'The Caudal Lure'. Ian Kenny is the lightning rod for a track that chops and changes with the regularity of the first team lineup for the Fremantle Dockers every Saturday! 'Illumine' features an array of buzzy noises before migrating to a track that resembles HM, though it pales against some of the heavier shit coming out of Europe. The two longest tracks are saved till last. 'Deadman' at 12 minutes is epic like in duration, and will be doing well to retain your interest right through to the end. I'm certain the metal revellers from Fremantle and Beaconsfield may find it difficult to go the distance on this one, but if they do, then good on them, 'cause it's a pretty good track. 'Change' the last track at nearly 11 minutes is way too strange, even for this listener to comprehend.

In Summary
Like Metallica's 'St Anger', you don't hear a lot of lead guitar solos on this work, but the two blokes swinging the axes Drew Goddard and Mark Hosking keep things interesting without really setting fire to the fretboard as some of our Euro and US six-string slayers are prone to do. There are some choice tracks on 'Sound Awake', but also some which require a hell of a lot of listening to really get to the bottom of. For me, there aren't enough interesting guitar parts happening (i.e bugger all solos), Ian Kenny is a good enough singer but his range is kind of limited in the harsh reality of international heavy metal. Just check out the vocal talent in Finland, Norway, Sweden, Germany, Italy and the States.. there are some monster vocalists doing their thing.. All in all though, 'Sound Awake' is a reasonable album, and one that is now selling in all the local W.A shops from what I have seen. It will be interesting to see where Karnivool end up by years end.

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#1 | gdazegod on July 29 2013 13:58:23
Karnivool's latest 'Asymmetry' is not long out (released), and already it's made its way to #2 on the Aussie album charts. Looks like a review is on the way..
#2 | gdazegod on July 29 2013 13:59:43
Ian Kenny's other band BIRDS OF TOKYO are also high in the album chartsas @ mid2013, though their music is quite different to Karnivool.

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