CD Review: Karnivool “Sound Awake”

Review by: Stuart Blythe
karnivoolcdIt’s been four years in the making but after setting a new benchmark in Australian heavy rock with their debut album “Themata”, the pressure was on. Fortunately the wait has been worth it!!

Re-enlisting Themata’s producer Forrester Savell, the album was recorded at Perth’s Blackbird and Kingdom Studios over several months, and later mixed at Melbourne’s famous Sing Sing Studios’. Savell has done a superb job on this record with each band member clear in the mix, and the various landscapes of sound captured impeccably. Singer Ian Kenny relays “It was a no-brainer in the end. Once we made the decision to let him into our space, we really relied on him to don the heavy black boots and start kicking heads, which he did. Plus, the guy’s got the goods musically – he’s like the cleaner who comes in after a murder.”

Admittedly, a departure from Themata, Sound Awake is a sprawling opus, a 72 minute musical journey that starts with the leviathan-sized bass growl of opener Simpleboy [“the bass sounds like a circular saw being dragged through an elephant’s graveyard” says Jon Stockman – and we agree].

Goliath offers up a growling, bottom-heavy, time signature changing song that clearly highlights the complex structures of Karnivools’ musical talents. I am not going to analyse each track in this review, suffice to say that the collaborative efforts by the band on the album have certainly stepped up the complexities of each track. Jono acknowledges saying “Themata was an album of hooks, while Sound Awake is more an album of lures”. This is something that existing fans may or may not like, but without question, this album is in a league of its own.

For me, standout tracks are;
* New Day: Vocal-led, Ian Kenny’s highly emotive vocals moving from soft angelic verses to choral heights, blending both atmosphere and anthemic chorus.
* Set Fire To The Hive: The first single is somewhat different to the rest of the album, with Kenny’s venomous vocals and Goddard’s ‘hornets nest guitars’ providing an up-tempo raw prog-punk feel.
* Simple Boy: As noted above.
* Deadman: An epic 12 minutes of pure Karnivool goodnesss that leads beautifully into a reworked “Change”.

Note that this list is changing with each listen.

“Sound Awake” is a journey of sonic fusion that evolves with each listen.

Rating: 5 Stars!

1. Simple Boy
2. Goliath
3. New Day
4. Set Fire to the Hive
5. Umbra
6. All I Know
7. The Medicine Wears Off
8. The Caudal Lure
9. Illumine
10. Deadman
11. Change

Article: KARNIVOOL The ‘Sound Awake’ Tour : June 2009

Karnivool "Set Fire to the Hive"

Karnivool is
Ian Kenny – Vocals
Drew Goddard – Guitars
Mark Hosking – Guitars
Jon Stockman – Bass
Steve Judd – Drums

Leave a comment and tell us what you think of the album!