The scientific idea of "selection" is where the best biological traits are carried on through many generations, while the weaker traits die off because they can't handle the environment as well. It brings about a healthy population which is very well suited for it's surroundings.
From Western Australia, Karnivool are a band who have gone through rather intense selection since their self titled EP from 1999, one which they prefer people not to know about. From what I've heard of it, it' was rather basic, and compared to what they have managed with Themata and I'm not surprised that they want to forget about their lowly beginnings.
When it comes to relatively light nu-metal and soft, clean vocals with emotional lyrics, the biggest name at the moment could only be Linkin Park. It's no secret that Linkin Park and similar bands are rather hated by the fans of "real music" and "bands who can actually play their instruments".
It's pretty obvious where I'm going with this. Karnivool manage to cover both ends of the spectrum, and they do an extremely good job. There's no half-heartedness or compromises here, they know exactly what they're doing and they aren't going to fall into the gap in the middle and just disappear.
In the first minute of the album, it seems pretty standard, but then you hear a rather intricate bass riff filled with harmonics and a beat that you can't quite follow... the music suddenly get a lot more interesting... and it doesn't falter for another 50 minutes.
They may not have the technical ability of Dream Theater and the like, but they can a lot better than many other bands, especially compared to others within their style of music. With their great guitar and bass riffage, clever use of delay, and some mind bending time signatures, they still manage to keep it listener-friendly to those still floating around in the mainstream. Ambience and string sections are also common place on Themata, and there is even a Drum 'n' Bass section in the middle of Synops.
As for the flow of the album.. to me it seems the first two songs stand out so much, that most of what's to follow doesn't have that spark. In reality it's still very well done, sadly, it just sits in a bit of a shadow. It picks up a bit in the middle with Lifelike and the Meshuggah-like instrumental, Scarabs.
As the album draws to a close, the ambience level jumps right up. The last two proper tracks don't show much sign of heaviness at all, although it's clear that Change is about to explode, it's kind of annoying that it ends on the verge of awsomeness, but it leaves you with the thought that Karnivool is not planning to disappear any time soon.
Production wise, the album is fairly well done. I can hear all the instruments well, the music punches just right, but sometimes it sounds too big for the music. Not such a big problem, just something I noticed.
So... you would probably like Themata if you're into any of the following: fairly good musical ability; relatively catchy, yet powerful songs; great songcraft. I'd recommend them to fans of both Linkin Park and Gordian Knot - probably a fair indication of what to expect on Themata.
Given how far they have come since their early days, I just wonder how much more selection they can undergo before the next release. I'm looking forward to it, so are you.
A solid 4.5/5
Songs I'd recommend:
Fear Of The Sky
I don't recommend:
Omitted For Clarity - it's just 20 seconds of silence