Review Summary: An awful slab of badly recorded nu-metal from a band who, fortunately, will go on to much greater things.
Debut releases are a funny thing. They can go one of two ways. Either they’re going to be a raging success that propels a band to lofty heights (think Arcade Fire’s Funeral
or The Temper Trap’s Conditions
) or they’re a release that once said band becomes reasonably popular, it will deny the existence of the very recording. Unfortunately for then four-piece Karnivool, the latter is more relevant. The Karnivool that released its self-titled EP way back in 1999 is a far cry from the Karnivool today, with only Ian Kenny (vocals) and Drew Goddard (guitar) remaining from the original line-up. Thus, there is quite a noticeable difference in the quality of the music.
Opening jaunt ‘Some More of the Same’ sets the tone for the EP, featuring down tuned guitars with plenty of distortion and a very young Ian Kenny on vocals. At a lengthy nine minutes, one would expect the track to grate pretty quickly. However, despite being somewhat repetitive and unoriginal, it is actually the best song on the EP, giving fans a glimpse of what would come later in the band’s career. Kenny’s vocals are perhaps the only constant throughout the band’s career, managing to pull of a couple of impressive parts, despite being quite immature at the time. The opener also has Goddard’s best work for the EP, with a couple of interesting riffs and ideas throughout the track’s duration.
‘Box’ and ‘Fool Me’ lay claim to featuring the worst moments of the release and perhaps the two songs that the band despise most. ‘Box’ is particularly horrendous, with Kenny laying down some of the worst lyrics on the face of the earth. Hearing ‘It doesn’t matter anyway ‘cos I don’t give a ***’ yelled over the top of horribly recorded drums and bass tone that sounds about as good as two bits of wet cardboard being hit together doesn’t really do much for the aural senses. Combine this with mountains of distortion and some horrible vocal effects and there is little hope for the song being decent by any stretch of the imagination.
Konkrete Seed isn’t much better, with its riff sounding like a Korn B-side and the rest of the song being equally uninspiring. Throughout the EP, the rhythm section isn’t anything to write home about with drummer Brett McKenzie and bassist Andrew Brown choosing to merely follow the lead of Goddard rather than move off on their own tangents the way Steve Judd and Jon Stockman do in Karnivool today. This only serves to make the tracks all the more unimaginative and boring, particularly on ‘Konkrete Seed’ and ‘Fool Me.’ Perhaps the only real positive of the record are Kenny’s vocals and even those, for the most part, are a far cry from what he has achieved later in his career.
Karnivool’s debut EP isn’t a pretty one, overflowing with generic nu metal and some genuinely awful moments. There are a few glimmers of the brilliance the band show on their later releases, however the production quality prevents most from seeing the light of day. The current members of Karnivool deny the existence of their self-titled EP to this very day and, given the quality of the material found here, we should probably do the same.