Karnivool
Themata


4.5
superb

Review

by TheDistantFuture USER (24 Reviews)
May 21st, 2008 | 53 replies


Release Date: 2005 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Another fine export from Land Down Undaaah.

Australia. What comes to mind when one thinks of the glorious one-continent nation? Outback Steakhouse? Shrimp on the Baaaahbbie? Damn Wallabies? Unfortunately it's generally not good music that comes to mind. To most, the only recognizable musical contributions made by this country seem to be AC/DC and a seemingly endless list of mediocre and generic ripoffs of the rock pioneers (The Vines, Jet, Wolfmother, etc.) However, as of recent a pretty awesome trend has started in the music scene of the Land Down Unda with rock bands making aesthetically interesting music that noticeably rebells against the tired confines of much of the nation's music. Karnivool is one such band.

The five-piece plays a brand of alternative rock with an artistic twist. The band uses lush layers of accoustic guitars and strings that collide with jagged, heavy riffs, Meshuggah-y (dibs on this if its not already taken) polyrhythms, and soaring, angelic vocals. To say the least, the group's sound definitely stands out clearly from the glut of angsty sound-a-likes that have been dominating the radio as of recent. Even despite Themata coming out three years ago in the band's homeland, just making it to the U.S. in the past year, it still sounds fresher than a vast majority of bands just coming out here.

The key to Themata's brilliance lies in the group's use of dynamic contrast. Instrumentally Karnivool is quite heavy. The drumming is intense, technical, and very creative and the guitars fight it with staggered, down-tuned riffs, and powerful melodies. However, instead of having a screaming, "can't hold back my bottled up anger anymore" vocalist, which is more or less expected these days, the band wisely chose Ian Kenney, who has one of the most stunning, emotionally-charged voices in rock today. Hearing this man belt, croone, and bear his soul over such intense music, without once resorting to shouting or screaming is truly something remarkable.

The epic opener "C.O.T.E.: is a perfect example of these aforementioned elements. From the slow-burning intro its clear that great things are ahead. The track is an emotional odyssey, taking the listener through mathy prog sections, beautiful falsetto parts, accoustic interludes, and a symphonic-tinged climax. From there the pace does not let up with the fantastic eastern-metal title-track and first single, as well as the groovy "Shutterspeed" and the rhythmically mind-boggling "Fear of the Sky." These last two tracks show the band's Meshuggah influence quite clearly, however, the track most evocative of these elements is by far the instrumental, "Scarabs" which sounds like it could have come right off of "obZen." Meshuggah have no doubt left their imprint on the modern metal scene, but hearing them in an alternative band is definitely unusual, and yet Karnivool pulls it off effortlessly.

The band also handles their softer material with equal finesse, in the forms of the obligatory acoustic ballad, "Sewn and Silent" as well as "Synops," a gorgeous ambient track with programmed beats and a chilling refrain. Lastly, the cliffhanger closer, "Change Part 1" ends the album perfectly, adding enough closure to make the record feel complete, but also leaving the listener wanting more and possibly making for an interesting way to kick off their follow-up.

My complaints are few with this album, one of which being that it is very front-stacked in that most of the heavy and complex stuff is up in front while softer, slower pieces tend to dominate toward the end. Otherwise the production is fine, the musicianship is great without being "showy," and the song writing is first-rate and very accessible. For the life of me I can't understand how these guys are not better known, hopefully as they continue to tour the states and put out their next record word will spread. Don't miss this; Karnivool is a band with a really refreshing sound and some great ideas. Anyone who likes their rock served with a side of the unexpected and a little Outback flavor will love this.



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user ratings (828)
Chart.
4
excellent
other reviews of this album
Nick Mongiardo CONTRIBUTOR (4.5)
A soaring example of how great the often hated Nu-Metal genre can be...

thatdudeud0ntknow (3.5)
It may be inconsistent, but Themata hits the sweet spot for sure....

Puzzles (4.5)
Nirvana had passion, Tool had it, the Deftones have it and now, it's clear, so do Karnivool....

blueyxd (4.5)
...


Comments:Add a Comment 
TheDistantFuture
May 21st 2008


200 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This is NOT my first review. I've done 13 which were deleted by the crash. This is one of the oldest and I intend to post the rest over the course of the next week all leading up to my epic Watershed review....(ooooh ahhhh) Comments and particularly votes are very much appreciated.

RandyfromPennywise
May 21st 2008


752 Comments


Being Australian, I know quite a lot of Australian music. I don't know Karnivool. Several of my friends like them a lot. I will have to check them out, as I have been meaning to for months.

TheBolivianessence
May 21st 2008


20 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This band is way underrated. This is an awesome album, and this band still has plenty more potential.

Jim
May 22nd 2008


5110 Comments


i've only seen these guys live and they (and their songs) were great. still don't own any of their material however.
needless to say, the aussie alt rock scene is kicking goals atm

Spare
May 22nd 2008


5313 Comments


Much more love for Karnivool from me than Birds of Tokyo.

Spare
May 22nd 2008


5313 Comments


That was worded really awkwardly.

Jim
May 22nd 2008


5110 Comments


hey every wunz this guy makes love with birds in tokyo
etc, etc.

Spare
May 22nd 2008


5313 Comments


What I should have said to avoid confusion was:
"Karnivool > Birds of Tokyo IMO"

billy33
May 24th 2008


216 Comments


love this album a lot scarabs, cote and themata = godly

birds are decent if you want a change from vool but still have the kenny goodness. The new single silhouettic rocks as well.

hammet_ownz
August 5th 2008


42 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

The single best album in any genre in modern Australian music history.

I would even say better than the Living End.


Cannot heap enough praise on these guys. Seen them live 6 times in 18 months and cannot WAIT for the new album.

Captain North
February 20th 2009


6791 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This review deserves more love. So does the band.

AtavanHalen
February 20th 2009


17927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I would even say better than the Living End.


woahhh now lets not say thing that we cant take back

Vooligan
February 20th 2009


3541 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

but he speaks the truth David

Captain North
February 20th 2009


6791 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

'Tis true. The 'vool is better than the End.

AtavanHalen
February 20th 2009


17927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I was being sarcastic, darlings

upagainstthewall
February 20th 2009


838 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

What annoys me is it takes them so friggen long to release another album! they have been in Pre-Production for about a year now!

Captain North
February 20th 2009


6791 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I'm fairly sure they're beyong pre-production by now. But I can't help but feel that by leaving it so long they may have been missing out on a chance to really crack open an audience, but maybe they'll prove me wrong.

Also, sarcasm is hard to pick up on through the net. You should know that by now.

upagainstthewall
February 21st 2009


838 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Really? Oh thats good.
Hopefully they do prove you wrong : )

Captain North
March 6th 2009


6791 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Just heard Deadman...fucking epic. This record is going to be ridiculously good.

Also, using this review to comment because it's better than the other. Can we try and reserve comments to this one? It's more likely to make people want to listen to the 'vool.

Vooligan
March 6th 2009


3541 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeh, kenny is amazing in it. Theres a couple of other longer songs that will be on the record also, but Deadman and New Day are the pic of the newies imo.




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