Album Review – KARNIVOOL’s Sound Awake

I got an e-mail a few weeks ago that had my digital copy of Guitar Edge within. Seeing as how Alice in Chains was on the cover and the cover promised several other interesting stories, I started clicking through the pages to see what was new in regards to gear, tabs, interviews and articles. One of the articles/interviews in the magazine was with an Australian band named Karnivool.

The description of this band perked every part of my musical interest. Progressive rock? A band compared to Tool and Porcupine Tree?? Crazy effects all over the guitars??? Hell yeah I was interested! The article was touting their new album, Sound Awake, and discussing various aspects of it, from production to song quality to lyrical content and more. But I’d had enough, I needed to hear it for myself and see if this album was worth it.
The album starts off with “Simple Boy”, a beautifully produced track that hooked me in for the rest of the album. The guitars are clearly defined although sometimes it’s hard to pick out the rhythm guitar from the bass. The lead guitars, however, cut through the mix very fluidly. The bass, thick with effects, is the foundation of the song (very Tool-esque) and has a very round sound, even though it is distorted and slightly fuzzy. The drums have a solid thump to the low end and a nice “sizzle” in the higher registers. There is a very cool spot near the middle of the song where the drums come in sans production effects, giving them a very raw and edgy sound. The vocals are at a perfect volume and the vocals harmonies are wonderfully placed, hiding just behind the main vocals, almost ghost-like. 
Although “Simple Boy” has its moments of “rocking out”, I recommend, for fans of Muse or The Mars Volta, checking out the track “Set Fire To The Hive”. Faster paced with passages that beg for headbangers to unite, I found myself getting pumped up and hot-blooded. 
Even with the amazing production and incredible song quality, it’s a bit exhausting trying to get through the album in one go. The album clocks in over 70 minutes long and the last two tracks are each over 10 minutes. On top of the length, these are not necessarily songs to just sit back and listen to. They require a bit of effort and investment to fully appreciate. 
Overall, Karnivool manages stand right up next to Tool, Porcupine Tree, Muse and The Mars Volta while still being able to sound original and unique.
4 skulls out of 5