Western Australia : Prog Metal :: Seattle : Grunge
This is a big deal record for metalheads. Western Australia has produced a few bands that have become staples in the prog metal genre, namely Cog and The Butterfly Effect. But with Sound Awake, Karnivool have emerged as the ones to watch. Their previous LP, Themata, was released almost five years ago and this 2009 full-length clocking in at 72 minutes puts them solidly in the upper echelon of progressive nu-metal.
High school friends who were inspired by and covered bands like Nirvana and Carcass, Ian Kenny and Andrew “Drew” Goddard are the only original members still singing and playing guitar, respectively. Kenny’s voice is an astonishingly impressive part of Sound Awake‘s success: He has immaculate control, moments of serious radio beauty, and he can also wail. His voice guides listeners on an epic alt-rock journey with plenty of tempo and volume changes. This record is remarkably diverse, with harder moments of churning guitars, Jon Stockman’s ground-up bass, and aggressive drumming by Steve Judd.
What’s most exciting about this LP is the sounds for which Karnivool reach. They’ve stuck with veteran producer Forrester Savell and pulled in a handful of other musicians to fill out a rich, complex rock sound. They use a didgeridoo on “Change (Part 2),” a prominently awesome xylophone on album opener “Simple Boy,” and extra vocalists on the aptly titled “Goliath.” Singles “Set Fire to the Hive” and “All I Know” definitely rip, but they may not be the best or most indicative of the rest of the record.
“New Day” is a keeper, Kenny’s vocals front and center with bouncing guitar fingering that escorts the listener through the album’s artiest, softest track. “Deadman,” on the other hand, is the album’s most complex and longest song. It’s a 12 minute trip worth taking.
This is an impressive record and even more evidence to the musts of a compelling new metal record: tempo variety, artistry, complexity of sound, a talented vocalist and ambition to push the boundaries and definitions of metal. Western Australia has produced a champion of the genre sharing the podium with Isis and Mastadon. Sound Awake is quite an accomplishment.