Sound — 10
Okay, I've heard a lot of people either complaining about or being generally sceptical about the direction and approach of this album, and well, you're really missing the point guys. There are a couple of things that need to be put out there for the record: (Excuse the pun) So, it is only natural for bands to progress from album to album. I know I wouldn't want to buy two albums that sound too overly similar, so in that sense, Sound Awake is great before the subject matter is analysed. It doesn't sound like Themata, there are far less heavy segments and a much more subdued use of distorted guitar riffs, but that's not a bad thing at all. What Themata created with it's often mind concussing complexity, Sound Awake counters, using silky sounding melody and lighter, less intricate soundscaping. The detail that we loved about Themata is still there, but it is spread out more, and is still absolutely pleasing to the ear. The song Umbra for example, has a slow, hypnotic quality that might not be as thrashy as Lifelike or Fear of the Sky, but still delivers in every way. The drumming...Oh my goodness. Have you ever been listening to music and actually convulsed with physical pleasure? Well the drumming on this album caused me to do exactly that. It just seems to fuse with the other instruments, in an almost alchemical way. The BASS. Okay, if you haven't taken the time to listen to Themata closely and tune in on the bass, do it. Jon Stockman on bass seems to have a knack for hearing exactly what needs to be played, and filling every necessary gap with thumping, fluid and occasionally twinkling bass. Good examples of this include (on Sound Awake), Umbra, All I know, Deadman and the Caudal Lure. OH, and who can't forget the slightly overdriven bass assault in Simple Boy. The guitars are indescribable, okay? They're not played like guitars on this album, more like ambience instruments, they definitely don't dominate like they did on Themata. I seriously cannot even begin to give justice to the performance on Sound Awake in the guitar lane. Just go listen to it yourself and take it in. The drums are mixed immaculately. You can sit there with headphones on (or in, if you swing that way) and actually feel your consciousness begin to meld together with the atmosphere on this album, it doesn't sound like an album that was recorded in a studio, rather, on a planet many millions of light years away. And if you spend long enough listening to it you'll feel yourself gradually pulled towards a state of meditation. That is until Set Fire to the Hive kicks in, seriously, that song is badasssssss. By far the best use of syncopation in this style of music I've ever heard. It's also worth stating that this album gets better and better with each listen, I mean that in the literal sense, you discover more about it every time you put it on. You grow attached to it in the same was as you did Themata, you will probably fall in love with it eventually. But I advise against taking the CD and... Yeah. Don't do it. Trust me.
Lyrics — 10
Ian Kenny. It should be an adjective. For awesomeness. The vocal performance and lyrics on this album are absolutely faultless. Every line is sung with utter conviction and emotion, and you'll find that listening to him, you begin to feel like you know him. He pours such soul into his performance that you can actually FEEL what he's singing, there is a tingling sensation that goes hand in hand with it. Once again, I really cannot do justice to him through words, (Probably also because I'm not a singer and don't know the necessary words to describe it) so just listen to the album and drink it up. The lyrics.. the lyrics, the lyrics, the lyrics. I'm not totally sure what the lyrical themes of themata were focused on. Sound Awake, however, spares no subtlety for it's lyrics. They're about not doing what god tells you to do. They're about acceptance of Carnal self, they're about freedom of mind, body and soul. They're a desperate plea of understanding directed at the human race and the universe, a plea for answers and clarity in this evil-stricken world we live in. They're about love, they're about life, they're absolutely amazing. Everything is in it's right place on this album when it comes to the vocals, they're complimented beautifully by the music, and definitely a more mature, musical step up from Themata. In every way.
Overall Impression — 10
Saying that this band and this album compare to other artists is like saying that Leonardo Da Vinci is sort of like Andy Warhol. Not to say that Andy Warhol isn't good or anything, he's just not AS good. And Karnivool are in a league of their own, they always have been. But this album concretes that league. They're a benchmark now, a standard. Australian bands are going to have to measure up this standard, and I feel it safe to say that most will crash and burn. Once again, I'm not saying that other bands are bad, they're just not as good. If this album were stolen from me, well I'd buy another one. I think I made that clear. Hell I'd buy every copy in Australia if I had the money, and have a room lined with shelves of Sound Awake. But that's just me. And if you give this album a listen I can guarantee that you'll feel the same way. To a degree. Or not, but hey, at least you can say you tried, right?