Karnivool
Asymmetry


2.5
average

Review

by zuzek USER (8 Reviews)
July 20th, 2013 | 16 replies


Release Date: 08/06/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Shooting for the stars and landing.. nowhere in particular?

You would be hard-pressed to find a man that disagrees that Karnivool have come a long way since 'Box'. Perth boys have become Perth men as recognition abroad has propelled the Australian band towards the spotlights of modern progressive rock music. Taking copious amount of time between the recording of a new opus has been met with increasing expectations and desire by an ever growign fan base for the next installment, progressively from Themata to Sound Awake, and now to Asymmetry. The sophistication and maturation that was showcased on Sound Awake could do nothing but fuel the hypetrain for Asymmetry more. The tricky thing with towering expectations is that they are often made to be crushed. Even though Asymmetry does not solicit one to take away the label of 'progressive heroes' that many have dubbed the Aussie five-piece, it is a convoluted mess of a record with more ups and downs, shortcomings and greatness twisted together than a sleep deprived Stephen Fry on ritalin.

Much praised Kenny's (also frontman of the more popular and poppy Birds of Tokyo) vocal abilities return with a vengeance and are key in cementing many of the albums highlights (Sky Machine/Aeons). Altogether though, Kenny's performance is not as strong as on prior releases as he regularly relapses in vocal patterns that bring to mind the image of a tumbleweed hobbling across desert dunes, not heading anywhere in particular. On some level, the lack of hooks on Asymmetry could and will be lamented by a lot of listeners as there is no sense of immediacy in the record and a good understanding of the music will require repeated listens. A lot of Kenny's vocal choices sound like they would fit right on Birds of Tokyo tracks that were not good enough to make the cut. Kenny exhales, the note seeps into your ears, stays there for a few seconds and leaves. Nothing has changed. The feeling occurs enough to irritate the listener as it detracts from the incredible musicianship that is going on the background and how much it works to propel the song forward into something better.

The invasive presence of Judd's snare in the mix is symbolic of the central role of the drum kit on Asymmetry. The bulk of the material often feels like it is written around what polyrhythmic magic Judd is performing and which tempo changes he has concocted (The Refusal). This relegates the guitars of Goddard and Hosking to functioning as unthankful tools of atmosphere. While the latter two gentlemen fulfill this task to a T (and with gusto), the flip side is that there are hardly any memorable riffs on the album. A more cardinal sin is that while Stockman and Judd achieved moments of greatness together on Sound Awake, and could justifiably be called one of the stronger backbones in progressive rock music, signs of pensive collaboration are only sporadically present on Asymmetry to the detriment of the end product; progression from one passage in another often sounds calculated, making entire sections sound contrived and/or confused. Stockman often seeks beauty is simplicity to draw the listener in, while Judd habitually resorts to technical wizardry to bamboozle your ears. The combination unfortunately more often disconnects (Nachasch) than engages (We Are/Eidolon).

Employing the title track as an anecdotal piece of justification for its own name is woefully jarring and abrasive. Upon repeated listens, it achieves nothing but embodying the role of the steeple in a steeplechase, an obstacle that is to be passed before the work that matters can be enjoyed. Although Amusia is not guilty of the same atrociousness it simply serves neither as a well thought out extension of Sky Machine or an effective prologue for The Last Few, thus falling flat. Opening passage Aum succeeds in building a delectably light atmosphere which unfortunately completely juxtaposes the complex drum rhythms that open Nachasch. On the end of the record, closing passage Om has the unfortunate fate of being measured up against Change (Part 1) from Themata and Change (Part 2) from Sound Awake. It chooses to do so with an electronic ambiance accompanied by a subtle piano melody, divulging a spoken passage that philosophizes on the usage of lysergic acid. There is no going out with a blast this time and instead the album just ebbs away into the absence of sound. Just like Sound Awake, Karnivool struggle to imbue the interludes on Asymmetry with sense as being part of the whole, except that this time they are not dismissable blemishes but itchy scabs under which the flesh below is not imperfect, but kaput.

All this does not mean that Asymmetry is a case in point of a band stagnating. It is the sound of a band experimenting and looking for new ideas and approaches to paint the canvas with. Nevertheless, it happens too often that there is a self-apparent conclusion drawn where the presence of experimentation itself is interpreted as a signal of growth within a band. This is not always so. Experimentation with sounds rather showcases a band that is expanding, exploring and perhaps pushing the proverbial envelope. With Asymmetry, Karnivool is somewhere in this process but has not reached any new horizons. The impressive musicianship showcased by every individual saves the record from wallowing at an average mark of 'neither here nor there', but the collective product comes dangerously close on occasion due to dysfunctional songwriting. Asymmetry is Karnivool frantically attempting to establish dynamism between sophistication and mellowness and their desire for intensity and heaviness, often solidly hitting the mark with the former (Eidolon) and missing it by a long shot with the latter (The Refusal). Karnivool are confused about what makes them tick and work, and it shows in some painful ways.



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user ratings (481)
Chart.
3.7
great
other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
zuzek
July 20th 2013


752 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Reads more like a 2.5 I'm sure, but I wanted to focus on some of the more negative aspects of the
record which I find jarring. In truth I would rate it somewhere between 'average' and 'good' but I
don't particularly care or know where. I wanted to love this, but I care very little for most of the
record after copious listens.

Mongi123
Contributing Reviewer
July 20th 2013


11805 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Very nice review man. Of course I disagree with a lot but you proved your point! Pos'd

Digging: Rishloo - Living as Ghosts with Buildings as Teeth

Hoppoman
July 20th 2013


656 Comments


So many Karnivool reviews, I thought Australians were unpopular people?

MO
July 20th 2013


19078 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

that is one of the greatest avatars ever

GooGooGajoob
July 20th 2013


7 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

The last line couldn't be anymore true.. pos'd

zuzek
July 21st 2013


752 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Cheers guys. Wish there would be a bit more attention for the faults of this album instead of
pretending it is the next best thing since sliced bread. Although I really put them under scrutiny
here and they're somewhat bound to my interpretation of these faults, they are objectively present.

RollieQuibbs
July 26th 2013


430 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Listening to Sound Awake again only confirms Asymmetry's inferiority. Maybe that will change after more listens. I doubt it.

Cipieron
July 26th 2013


3508 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

excellent review, i really dug it


this album is disappointing to say the least

bodiesinflight57
July 30th 2013


870 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Ok seriously, wtf is up with the drums? It's hilarious.

Mongi123
Contributing Reviewer
July 30th 2013


11805 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yea it's Annoying as hell! They're fine on sky machine but there's why too much snare

tempest--
July 30th 2013


14628 Comments


"Wish there would be a bit more attention for the faults of this album instead of pretending it is the next best thing since sliced bread."

other reviews of this album
pmb1288 (4)
Alexander Nathan Di Pietro (3.5)
Robert Garland CONTRIBUTOR (4.5)
SitarHero (4)

user ratings (176)
3.7
great

zuzek
July 30th 2013


752 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I think you should have read that comment differently Lloyd. I mean to say that my own review should garner a bit more discussion than the tiny amount of comments it has so far gathered. I don't need affirmation of my own opinion, but I'd like people to critique what I'm saying or discuss the album as I have portrayed it.

Also, you cannot seriously reference pmb1288's review. Read it.

tempest--
July 31st 2013


14628 Comments


nah

zuzek
August 3rd 2013


752 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Omaha's review made me realize I needed to change this from a 3 to a 2.5. It's really not a good record.

Pndi
August 18th 2013


465 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

"an ever GROWIGN fan base"

gordodustin
November 19th 2013


127 Comments


This review tries way too hard. Decent album, definitely has it's flaws though



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