Karmanjakah
A Book About Itself


4.5
superb

Review

by Get Low USER (53 Reviews)
July 19th, 2021 | 29 replies


Release Date: 02/26/2021 | Tracklist

Review Summary: motion to add "meshuggahchugging" to the dictionary

Karmanjakah is a four-piece, Swedish progressive metal band of the "djent" variety. They released their debut self-titled EP in 2016, then disappeared from the universe for four years. In 2020, they began releasing singles that showcased a much more mature form of their original sound, with more technical riffs and cohesive songwriting, as well as stronger vocals. These singles lead to the release of their first album, A Book About Itself, in February of 2021. I did not actually discover Karmanjakah until a few months later while browsing through random djent bands on Spotify, but after thoughtlessly throwing on A Book About Itself, I knew about five minutes into the album that I had discovered something truly special.

Karmanjakah's style of songwriting is groovy, melodic and technical, comparable to bands such as Tesseract, Vildhjarta, and Textures. This is immediately apparent in the opening track Nautilus, which features a mix of tried-and-true meshuggahchugging riffs that are interspersed with occasional high notes for melody. One of the interesting things about Karmanjakah that I feel separates them from the pack of their prog-peers is that they only have one guitarist (Viggo Orsan), and each song on A Book About Itself only contains one primary guitar track (with a few exceptions, such as a rhythm track playing during a solo). I've found that many prog-djent bands rely on layering guitar tracks to give their music a "fuller" sound, but Viggo's riffs are so simultaneously rhythmic and technical that he can take care of the jobs as rhythm guitarist and lead guitarist himself. His playing is a thing of beauty, and to try and add extra depth to it would only serve to bog it down.

Karmanjakah's other two instrumentalists are no slouches either. Lukas, their bassist, can match tit-for-tat all of Viggo's riffs on his bass – which is pleasantly audible at all times in the mix – and occasionally takes the lead himself, such as on the first verse of Wild Horse. Sebastian, the drummer, is above average for the genre. While most djent-prog drummers lazily follow the Tomas Haake formula of playing standard cymbal and snare beats and letting their feet do all the work on the kickdrums, Sebastian seems to always be proactive in his performance, adding those extra snare punches and tom-fills wherever they can be used to accentuate the riff. I must also mention that there are some instances of synth-play in the form of a grand piano on the album, used tastefully to accentuate a few of the slower tracks.

The impressive instrumentals on A Book About Itself are brought together with the vivacious serenading of vocalist Jonas Lundquist, who confidently uses his high octave range to deliver memorable verses and hooks at every turn. I can't overstate the passion with which Jonas dispenses each line on this album, and to add to this feat, his lyrics are in English, which is, I assume, not his native language. Having read through all of the lyrics on the album, I wasn't able to detect a central concept, but many of the songs seem to deal with personal existential questioning, written with colorful metaphors often referencing nature.

Individual performances aside, I also want to talk about the flow of the album. While A Book About Itself isn't a long, interconnected journey like some other prog albums, there are a few transitions between songs that sound organic and well thought out, my favorite being the light strumming from the end of Nautilus to the beginning of Vardkasar. But most of the time, each song demands to be recognized as an independent idea from the others, beginning as softly or as harshly as it wants to, and ending as gradually or abruptly as is needed. The fifty-minute album, which I feel to be the perfect median length for the genre, provides content from start to finish, without any useless interludes or meaningless meandering.

I learned while researching the band that their name comes from a town in the children's fantasy novel The Brothers Lionheart, which takes place in the imagination of a dying boy's fever dreams. Although I haven't read the book myself, I can concede that Karmanjakah, who delve into the strange, the ethereal, and the beautiful in their music, could not have chosen a more appropriate name for themselves. Amidst a sub-genre of progressive metal that can start to sound a bit samey from band to band, Karmanjakah have written a book, or an album, excuse me, that is uniquely their own.



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user ratings (10)
3.8
excellent


Comments:Add a Comment 
Get Low
July 19th 2021


10732 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Blissful album

FabiusPictor202
July 19th 2021


1395 Comments


posd, but the odds that I give this a listen are basically 0

Get Low
July 19th 2021


10732 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Appreciated. You'd hate this.

Purpl3Spartan
July 19th 2021


807 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Will check

Sabrutin
July 19th 2021


7798 Comments


Oh nice I had heard a random track and it slapped. It's not my genre but it just felt tight.

renegadestrings
July 19th 2021


1543 Comments


The summary has no connection with the rest of the review; other than that, great read. The first EP was in one ear, out the other, but this convinced me to try again.

Agreed hard on the transition between Nautilus and Vardkasar. Really sets up a flow and makes me curious about what’s to come.

Get Low
July 19th 2021


10732 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Heh, yeah, my summaries tend to be pretty low-effort.

I quite like the EP, but this album is so much better in pretty much every way.

Tundra
July 19th 2021


6204 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

4.5 alrighty, kewl review

Get Low
July 19th 2021


10732 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thank you. Yeah I really love this; my favorite album that I've discovered in quite a while.

SteakByrnes
July 19th 2021


24319 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Album rules

Digging: Origami Button - No Parking

Calc
July 19th 2021


16734 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

this was pretty ok, I remember Samples being the only stand out though

Get Low
July 20th 2021


10732 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

SAVE THE AURORA



SAVE THE AUROOOORAAAAA

Purpl3Spartan
July 20th 2021


807 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

First song was eh to me for some reason but I’m really enjoying the next two tracks so far

Purpl3Spartan
July 20th 2021


807 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Okay this rules

SteakByrnes
July 20th 2021


24319 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yea this album is dope

Ebola
July 20th 2021


4045 Comments


vocals kill this for me

Purpl3Spartan
July 21st 2021


807 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Vocals killed the first song for me but I thought they were superb the rest of the album

Get Low
July 21st 2021


10732 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Vocalist blows me away every time I listen to this. Dude's extremely talented.

Get Low
July 21st 2021


10732 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I'd imagine that people who are on the "Spencer Sotelo the notes themselves are gay" train or whatever that shit is aren't going to like this guy either, even though he's way better. Some people are just going to hear high-pitched vox and dip right out of there.

Purpl3Spartan
July 21st 2021


807 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

For me it was more the vocal melodies and how they mixed with the instrumentation in the first song. It just didn’t strike me right, but I thought he was amazing the rest of the album



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