Sound Awake Review

artist: Karnivool date: 06/17/2010 category: compact discs
Karnivool: Sound Awake
Released: Jun 5, 2009 (Aus)/ Feb 16, 2010 (US)
Genre: Progressive Rock
Label: Independent/Sony Music
Number Of Tracks: 11
Admittedly, a departure from Themata, Sound Awake is a sprawling opus, a 72 minute musical journey that starts with the leviathan-sized bass growl of opener Simple Boy.
 Sound: 9.4
 Lyrics: 9.4
 Overall Impression: 9.4
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reviews (5) 45 comments vote for this album:
overall: 9.7
Sound Awake Reviewed by: jguneratne, on june 18, 2009
3 of 3 people found this review helpful

Sound: Re-enlisting Themata's producer Forrester Savell, the album was recorded at Perth's Blackbird and Kingdom Studios over several months, and later mixed at Melbourne's famous Sing Sing Studios. Admittedly, a departure from Themata, Sound Awake is a sprawling opus, a 72 minute musical journey that starts with the leviathan-sized bass growl of opener Simple Boy ("the bass sounds like a circular saw being dragged through an elephant's graveyard" - Jon Stockman). // 10

Lyrics: Ian Kenny is definitely one of Australia's finest vocalists. New Day is where he excels with his vocals being the primary focus of the song, moving from soft angelic verses to the choral heights that only he and a lone few others can soar. New Day is the perfect example of how far Karnivool has come in the last four years, blending both atmosphere and anthemic choruses together, something which wasn't quite done to perfection on Themata. // 9

Overall Impression: Change is easily the best song Karnivool has written, it seamlessly flows through its many different movements. With what is sure to make waves all over the world, Sound Awake has thrust Karnivool right to the top of the Australian rock pile, completely eclipsing other heavyweights The Butterfly Effect and Cog's latest efforts. While it doesn't contain as many big choruses or huge riffs as Themata, Sound Awake shows their coming of age from a band with potential to one that has what it takes to go very, very far. // 10

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overall: 10
Sound Awake Reviewed by: Mockstairwell, on august 28, 2009
2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Sound: The sound of this album is very unique. Karnivool has managed to abandon normal song structure in a pleasing way. Time signatures change frequently in a prog-rock manner, yet nothing seems forced. The guitars and bass provide an interesting soundscape. Often, they are topped with odd instruments like didgeridoos and xylophones. Although these facts are true, the drummer Steve Judd gives the most stand-out performance. The beats he produced are heavy and cut right through the mix. They are complex, but don't expel the emotion from the instrument. So if the album's sound had to be summed up in a word, it would simply be "amazing." // 10

Lyrics: There's no controversy to the idea that the heart and soul of Karnivool is the singer, Ian Kenny. He is one of the greatest vocalists in modern rock, and this is exploited in the third track, "New Day." The guitars produce a relatively easy progression, and Kenny's voice rises and drops impressively. Even over the heaviest of riffs, his falsetto is heard clearly and amazes. It still would mean little without the lyrics, which are effective as well. They work with the music and set a tone of emotion that appears in every song. // 10

Overall Impression: Karnivool has gone and produced an eleven-part masterpiece. From the beginning of Simple Boy to the end of Change(Part II), the listener will bask in awe. In my opinion, there are no weak songs. It has a replay value that I haven't experience with any other album. You can find new aspects in every listen, but can still tremendously enjoy the things you remember. Now if I had to select the best song, it would be Change(Part II). It is an eleven minute epic that was previewed in their previous work, Themata. However, if you only listened to Change(Part I), you will be in for a surprise when first experiencing Part II. It takes a new direction but does in outstandingly. In fact, I would say it sums up the entire album. // 10

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overall: 9.3
Sound Awake Reviewed by: UG Team, on february 23, 2010
2 of 4 people found this review helpful

Sound: Karnivool is back for their second full length album, which has been highly anticipated. Any fan of Karnivool will surely approve of this album. The sound is edgy and perfectly mixed within the entire album. Drew Goddard really shows his talent on lead guitar, with intricate leads and even more complex riffs. The melodies are happy and mellow, with soothing drum beats to create an even mellower feel. The distortion fits perfectly with the overall sound of the album, not too heavy, and not too light. The delay is used quite much with spot on intervals. The first two tracks, Simple Boy and Goliath, and the opening of the last track, Change, significantly heavier than the rest of the album, with heavier bass and guitar riffs than normal. Xylophones are present on the album, giving a slight more industrial feel mixed in with the progressive attitude. The mixing is superb, with every last detail distinctively present. // 9

Lyrics: Ian Kenny is the stand out on the album, with an overall prefect vocal performance. His falsettos seem to be the voice of an angel singing. Basically, if an angel was ever to sing, it would be Ian Kenny. The Medicine Wears Off seems to be my favorite vocal performance, with soothing falsettos and perfect pitch changes, going from high to low and low to high with such an ease. Few people will get the range Ian Kenny has, and he absolutely goes beyond perfect with it. Simple Boy also has some amazing vocals, as Kenny makes him own melodies that seem to be more recognizable than the actual music. // 10

Overall Impression: The eleven track album entitled Sound Awake is a great album to have in any collection. Even if you are the deathcore listener, or the R&B listener, this album will somehow relate to you. The length of the album may bore the slightest of listeners, with four songs topping in over seven minutes, and two topping in over ten. This should be seen as wondrous, as it shows the talent Karnivool has to have smooth transitions between movements in one song. This is seen perfectly in Change, where it starts out heavy, sooths out, and goes back and forth till the drum solo at the end, which completes the album perfectly. The mastery that is Karnivool has been awakened, and is perfectly shown through this critically acclaimed smash hit! // 9

- Sean Michael Gonzalez (c) 2010

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overall: 10
Sound Awake Reviewed by: le screamist, on april 21, 2010
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Sound: 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. // 10

Lyrics: 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. // 10

Overall Impression: 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? // 10

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overall: 8
Sound Awake Reviewed by: opeth714, on june 17, 2010
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Sound: Karnivool are one of the three great Australian alternative rock/metal bands, and are building in popularity. Their latest effort is no doubt a solid, and talent filled record. For fans of Themata, the first album, Sound Awake may take some listening, their sound has progressed, becoming more technical (arguably), and with a little less energy. This however is no bad thing, its just different. The sound is still incredible, with each song sounding like its been thought through for a long time (although perhaps too much). // 8

Lyrics: The lyrics on the album build on a lot of themes, nothing particularly special. Special though, is definately a word to use when describing the delivery of the vocals. Ian Kenny is superb, and one of the finest singers in alternative metal. Particularly good tracks on his part are New Day and The Medicine Wears Off, but on all the tracks he fits his vocals with the music very well, creating catchy choruses in songs like The Caudal Lure and All I Know. The rest of the band (not fair to just review the singer!) do very well on this album and clearly have a great deal of talent to share. // 8

Overall Impression: As I mentioned, avid fans of Themata will no doubt need to be patient with this album, as I have been, and although they are both excellent, they are different, so a future album will certainly cause some interest. Simple Boy, Set fire to the hive (nice bee swarm riff!) All I Know and The Caudal Lure are my personal favourites and probably the most popular and catchy songs most similar to the songs from Themata. There is no doubt any fan of alternative, progressive music will at least like this album, I would recomend it to you all. // 8

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