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Karnivool – Asymmetry

Progressive music is not always intended to possess such wide-reaching appeal, but Asymmetry has the capacity to kick down even more doors for Perth’s awesome five-some.

Karnivool

“It’s beginning to feel/Like we’re part of something real” vocalist Ian Kenny announces on opening track proper “Nachash”, which could have slotted onto 2009’s monumental Sound Awake, yet somehow retains a freshness. It’s that certain something the prog-hard rockers’ diehard ‘Vooligans have waited far too long to experience again. Extended spins of third long-player Asymmetry are akin to watching ’80s Jackie Chan flicks – they do the majority of the work, yet somehow you’re the one left exhausted. Boasting 14 tracks spanning a sonically dense 67 minutes, you’ll need a Gatorade to replenish after it’s all said and done. It’ll be energy well expended, though.

Darker in many instances and unsurprisingly ambient, Asymmetry is more ambitious, bristling with sprawling arrangements but also a rawer feel. Yet, it’s carefully honed and pristinely melodic. Pre-release teaser tracks (“We Are”, “The Refusal”) were met with a mixed initial response, but within the album’s overall scheme fit snugly. The former’s pulsating, distorted bass-line carries an off-kilter time signature-rooted groove, punctuated by atmospheric guitars and hard-driving rhythms. The latter’s contrast of cinematic overtones and explosions of Converge-like intensity eventually resonate; bassist Jon Stockman’s screams providing the ideal foil for Kenny’s distinctive tones.

Frantic, urgent “A.M. War” offers a faint whiff of Neurosis, and “The Last Few” hints at Meshuggah. In this month’s interview guitarist Drew Goddard reveals the dexterous “Sky Machine” nearly drove them to distraction. Perhaps, but those pain-filled hours were evidently worth it; ditto grandiose “Float”. Kenny has been credited with the ability to sing the Yellow Pages and still engage audience; he certainly lifts the soaring hooks of more immediate “Eidolon” and “Aeons” to another level.

The record is littered with interludes, such as the title track, meshing a Battles-esque loop and Sunn O))) influenced guitar to impressive effect. Perhaps the only significant downside is Asymmetry over-playing its hand fractionally; the second half could have been culled marginally to maximise impact. Still, for the dedicated punters, too much Karnivool is never enough.

Progressive music is not always intended to possess such wide-reaching appeal, but Asymmetry has the capacity to kick down even more doors for Perth’s awesome five-some.

The Essential Track: “A.M. War” crackles with electricity, but is off-set by gloriously ambient touches. In essence, everything you love about the ‘Vool.

Karnivool

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