Karnivool
Sound Awake


4.0
excellent

Review

by Jacob Royal STAFF
February 7th, 2010 | 87 replies


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Karnivool has once again proven success with the latest installment of their musical catalog, and any true fan of the band will get the enjoyment out of the album that they were aiming for.

In the year of 2007, the widely acclaimed band from Australia, Karnivool, released their first full-length album, titled "Themata". The album was well-received in its homeland, but in North America they still were mostly unheard of, despite the debut album's solid singles, but not for long. In 2009, the follow-up effort to Themata was released, "Sound Awake", and it is still being praised for its soaring yet technical progressive style.

Themata was a very good album, but it certainly had its flaws. In some parts, songs sounded similar to others, and the palette of styles the band was capable of covering had only been touched on slightly. Perhaps the most significant information about this album is that its closing track is an ambient introduction to something not yet heard by the band, and when a strong buildup comes up and one expects to hear what's around the corner, the album ends. "Change (Part 1)" was a mean tease of a cliffhanger, and was brilliant, I must confess. However, this will be touched on later.
"So does Sound Awake deliver?" -is the age-old question here. After listening to the album many times over the past couple of months, I must say that the album definitely delivers, in ways that you would expect as well as in unanticipated turns for the band.

This much could be told from just taking one quick glance at the tracklist for the album. All of the songs are full-length this time (no more "Omitted For Clarity"s here!); well, actually, "The Medicine Wears Off" is quite short, but still enjoyable. It makes up for it when two of the songs are more than ten minutes long, with some others still being in the seven-minute category. These guys have a lot of music that they want you to hear! "New Day", the third track on the album, almost sounds like Birds of Tokyo for awhile, then builds up and changes around some once you finally felt accustomed to the song. The entire song is continuously building up, it seems, and maybe it's for the song that follows, "Set Fire To The Hive", which is in another whole category of Karnivool. This is a very strange song, yet somehow incredibly appealing, probably because it's a whole new type of music for the band.

"Umbra", track five, is a nice, atmospheric break from the heavy progressive feel, at least not counting the middle section. Standing out here is the hook that starts the song; it might just be my favorite part of the entire album, out of everything Sound Awake has to offer. "All I Know" continues this dreamy, trance-like feel, and then after awhile, goes into a simplistic and radio-accessible verse/chorus-type deal. The most interesting part is the usage of the cowbell by the drummer, and how it actually fits the part very well for what it's worth.

Another personal favorite of mine, "The Caudal Lure" is about the most progressive we get, which we could have gleamed from the title, most likely. Nonetheless, the song's intro starts off with an awkward drum piece accompanied with some type of percussive instrument (maybe a vibraphone?) on the snare hits; it makes any drummer be confused for quite the long time and rewind- I'm speaking from personal experience here. And also, this review would be useless if I didn't mention the gong shot that happens right before the outro of the track. Wonderful stuff!

"Deadman" is the second-to-last track of the album, and it builds up incredibly well. To be honest, the whole song is one big build-up, more powerful than "New Day", and one just has to wonder where the song will go. And it drags on for awhile, maybe a bit too long, but that's just fine; what's coming next will be a nice little treat for fans of Themata.

The song "ends" after about ten minutes, and then a single vibraphone shot emerges out of silence. Then another after a few seconds, and another, and the chord structure feels familiar because it IS familiar, because it's indeed "Change (Part 1)", just revamped for the new album! This song ends just as Themata did, and then we finally get to hear what happens after the enormous build-up happens. Contrary to common sense, instead of a distorted-guitar intro to the track that is "Change", we hear a nice tribal drum beat, a fast one that makes us feel as if we're running through the jungles of the show Lost. From here, many time signatures are changed up, many "Hello hollow halo"'s are sung, and overall the song is as good as we wanted it to be, if not better. The ending features another awkward drum beat, with silences and pauses aplenty, and a choir singing in the background that almost makes it feel like some sort of, well, religious experience is occurring.

So, does Sound Awake have any weak points?, you may be asking. The answer is yes, of course. Some songs, such as "Illumine" and "Simple Boy" don't live up to the others, and "The Caudal Lure", to be frank, has a particularly boring chorus. Maybe "Deadman" and "New Day" drag on for too long, and "The Medicine Wears Off" leaves you wondering what its purpose was, but the point that I'm trying to make is that this album is still very enjoyable, despite its fallbacks.

Karnivool has once again proven success with the latest installment of their musical catalog, and any true fan of the band will get the enjoyment out of the album that they were aiming for.



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user ratings (1136)
Chart.
4.1
excellent
other reviews of this album
1 of
  • Nick Mongiardo CONTRIBUTOR (5)
    Wide awake and still asleep......

    LocustGrove (5)
    An outstanding release by a very underrated band....

    YoYoMancuso (4.5)
    From the xylophone tinkering that opens "Simple Boy" to the final charging drumbeat of "Ch...

    Pistol Pete (4.5)
    I don't want this to end, I don't want this to end....

  • spirals0810 (5)
    Karnivool's second full-length offering is an altogether uplifting, emotional adventure th...

    James OBrien (4.5)
    As an introduction to Karnivool, this album has won me over with its hard, dense rhythms a...

    zuzek (4)
    Genius comes in all forms, sometimes with a blemish or two....

    Billy (4.5)
    Epic, in every sense of the word. 'Sound Awake' cements Karnivool at the top of the Austra...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Douglas
February 7th 2010


9201 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Good review, yet probably not needed.

Though Simple Boy and The Cuadal Lure both rule.

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
February 7th 2010


10382 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

I just enjoy writing music reviews; it's hard to know which albums I should review on here, everybody's music gurus so I can't get to stuff first. Meh.
I do agree with you, they DO rule. Especially The Caudal Lure, just I think its chorus could have been a bit better.
And thank you!

Digging: Thou - Heathen

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
February 7th 2010


31620 Comments


Aussie Aussie Aussie

Digging: Theo Parrish - American Intelligence

Vooligan
February 7th 2010


3541 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Cool beans.

EVedder27
February 7th 2010


6088 Comments


Good review. Album rules especially New Day and All I Know.

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
February 7th 2010


10382 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

Thanks to all!
I have Umbra stuck in my head right now...
I only spent 40 minutes on this review, fun fact of the day I suppose!

TheSpirit
February 7th 2010


18001 Comments


good review, but i don't like this album

Digging: The Speed of Sound in Seawater - Red Version

tiesthatbind
February 7th 2010


7380 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I've spent a lot more time with Themata so far, but I need to give this more of a listen. Good review. Pos.

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
February 8th 2010


10382 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

Thank you!
I thought I was done with this album after several listens. But it has a way of creeping back into your musical life, trust me on that one.

nagstar89
February 8th 2010


71 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Good review mate.Both the albums rule nonetheless even though they both seem like clean shots taken by the band at different genres.Expressin Support for them from Kerala.

nagstar89
February 8th 2010


71 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

zzzz.Not being a fanboy though.

tiesthatbind
February 8th 2010


7380 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yeah Themata just has more immediate hooks and whatnot, and this is more prog, so I'm more drawn to Themata. But this is good from what I've heard.

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
February 8th 2010


10382 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

Gracias NagStar! I do love Themata as well. Cote is still my favorite song by Karnivool, and I doubt that will change anytime soon.
TiesThatBind- Yeahh. Themata was more accessible, without a doubt. With Sound Awake, I think they found their place more. It takes longer to get accustomed to, but it's well worth it.
(Newbie question- is there any way to get some type of notification when somebody comments my reviews? Thanks!)

Romulus
February 8th 2010


8447 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I actually found this easier to get into than Themata.

EVedder27
February 8th 2010


6088 Comments


Same here

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
February 8th 2010


10382 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

Really? Interesting...
I wonder how I would have liked this album had I heard it first.

EVedder27
February 8th 2010


6088 Comments


I actually heard this first. Idk just like it quite a bit better.

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
February 8th 2010


10382 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

Oh, if that's what you meant then I like it better as well.
Themata has simpler riffs; they're syncopated progressively, but still simpler.

tiesthatbind
February 9th 2010


7380 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Themata just had more of a hard rock vibe, I'm not as big on progressive stuff so the hard rock sound was easier to like.

OmahaStylee94: Click on My Discussions on the home page and it will tell you the last person to comment on the threads you comment in, and your reviews.

qwe3
February 9th 2010


21368 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Umbra is the weakest part of the album



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