It seems the Karnivool boys are fond of a lengthy brew in between drinks. It was four years between the Perth melodic metal quintet’s 2005 debut Themata and 2009’s Sound Awake. Now after another four years of steeping comes their latest, Asymmetry. The more than capable guidance of producer Nick DiDia (Rage Against The Machine, Mastodon), and perhaps also the softer-than-soft output from Ian Kenny’s most recent album with counterpoint project Birds Of Tokyo, has seemingly given the ‘Vool that sonically-evident inspiration, and it’s mostly rewarding.
What is sheerly apparent is a shift in tone and sentiment. Previously that sense of abandonment, in revelling in today with reckless danger but still with a subdued optimism, was pervasive. Here, there’s more of an outcry for the hopeless tomorrows. Even lyrics in the somewhat uplifting melodic lines are drear, like the conclusion of single We Are: “These words of wisdom/Come with lack of vision”. It and fellow single The Refusal, debuting bassist Jon Stockman’s growling vocal and a hark back to their atonal EP days, Nachash and possibly the epic Alpha contain the band’s old chugging riffs, soaring guitars and anthemic lyrics. Kenny undergoes quite the evolution, with intimate focus on his vocal in Sky Machine and Float. What remains is that embellished prog approach; some of the 14 tracks are interlude snippets, others are broken into movements that nudge the ten-minute mark. Drummer Steve Judd and guitarists Drew Goddard and Mark Hosking are ever reliable for those defining, jolting rhythms and dizzying time changes and, thankfully, they steer the ship.
Where Sound Awake’s hits connected instantly, Asymmetry’s slow-burning, raw, complex structures and sparse instrumentation requires an open mind and repeated listening.
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