A bit about the band
Karnivool were formed in 1997 in Perth, Australia as a high school band that used to play parties doing a mixture of originals and covers of such bands as Nirvana. After the usual early band member changes when formulating a band the current line up is Ian Kenny, Andrew Goddard, Mark Hosking, Jon Stockman and Steve Judd.
I find their style of music a bit hard to place in one genre - their early sound from their two EPs (Karnivool and Persona) was closest to Nu-Metal, but since then their sound has evolved to most accurately progressive rock/metal (which is just vague enough to make it sound like I know what I'm talking about).
Themata is Karnivool's first full-length studio and was released independently on the MGM Distribution label in February 2005, and then re-released in the US and UK by Bieler Bros Records in April and May 2007 respectively. Themata has a very distinctive style full of great variation alternating between heavy riffs and beautiful melodies, meaningful lyrics and the soulful rock vocals of Ian Kenny.
Cote is built on a series of waves, starting with a killer intro leading to an opening peak, before gradually building back up to that original crescendo through an array of emotions captured through the fantastic melodies of the song and beautifully haunting vocals. A brilliantly constructed song with wonderfully vague lyrics and awesome riffs this is an excellent track to open with.
2. Themata (single release)
In a shift from the mellower opening track, we are hit by a much heavier and edgier tune full of attitude derived from the growling vocals of Ian Kelly and a darker melody. There are some excellent instrumental and orchestral passages to add variety to the song and again the lyrics are deep with meaning and are open to interpretation.
3. Shutterspeed (single release)
In a similar vein to Themata, Shutterspeed relies on a much heavier vibe which is fairly catchy but fails to stand out quite as much. Guitars take the centre stage of this song and help to maintain the angry edge to the song along with some vitriolic lyrics. Not the most memorable song from the album, but enjoyable to listen to nonetheless.
4. Fear of the Sky
A fairly disjointed but intriguing intro establishes a fairly unnerving opening to Fear of the Sky. The lyrics are once again open to interpretation, but along with a discombobulated sound from the verses and the dark edge to the chorus the emotions from the song roll off in waves. Another excellent tune off what's shaping up to be a very original album.
Again another bizarre but intriguing intro with a heavy yet somehow funky edge to it, Roquefort (not sure of any cheese connection) starts off again with a lot of cynical attitude from Ian Kenny before leading to a very catchy chorus. Another fantastically constructed song with yet more fascinating lyrics, Roquefort is an excellent addition to the album.
6. L1fel1ke (single release)
L1fel1ke is my favourite track off the album and for me it encapsulates the album as a whole. With a slightly Nu-metal opening with some great guitar riffs and a really catchy chorus, this song is an awesome adrenaline-fuelled ride and I love the middle passage which takes on an almost theatrical slant. Full of twists and turns with a great tune and equally great lyrics L1fel1ke is definitely one of the stand-out songs on the album.
At only 2:10s long, Scarabs is one of the shortest songs on the album. It follows along a similar style to that of Fear of the Sky but with a much heavier and angrier feel to it but is completely instrumental so only worth listening to if you want to release your inner rage.
8. Sewn and Silent
Sewn and Silent takes a completely different turn (closer to Cote after a string of heavier tunes) and is the first real ballad on the album. With an absolutely beautiful melody - mostly guitars but with an orchestral undertone, beautiful lyrics and a really emotional vocal performance from Ian Kenny Sewn and Silent is a very moving song. This adds another dimension to the album and shows the full range of what Karnivool are capable of.
Moving back away from their softer side, Karnivool revert back to a heavier sound, but Mauseum is at a much slower tempo than previous heavier tracks. The verses slowly work their way to an emotional chorus always threatening to erupt but maintaining a restrained quality. This is a much smoother and free flowing song than ones such as Roquefort or Fear of the Sky and is yet again another compelling song.
Synops has a very surreal feel to it and again is based upon heavy guitar riffs which begin to build, before pulling back again to a very deceptively calm quality. Another song of great variety with hidden meanings everywhere you look and another catchy chorus, and despite some of the songs lacking it, allows the fluency of the album to continue.
11. Omitted for Clarity
Random silence for 20 seconds. I'm sure there some important ironic social statement to be gleaned from this "song" but perhaps not really worth listening to.
12. Change (Part 1)
You always want a great final song to round off an album and Change (Part 1), whilst not setting the world alight is fitting way to finish. With a very slow intro leading into a gradually building song with haunting vocals a very absorbing tune begins which is horribly cut off leaving you wanting more (which I guess could be a cunning marketing ploy). A great way to sum up the album.
Themata is a highly original debut album full of variety, fantastic melodies and guitar riffs and some surreal and intriguing lyrics that give the album a really genuine and deep meaning. Ranging from Nu-Metal to progressive rock and just some simple melodic tunes there is something for everyone. With some really catchy songs it is well worth a listen to, especially to anyone that likes alternative rock / metal.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
4 Fear of the Sky
8 Sewn and Silent
11 Omitted for Clarity
12 Change, Pt. I