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Study Album Of The Week: Karnivool – “Sound Awake”

Have you ever passed judgement on an album before even listening to it? Did a review you read, a song from a previous album you heard, or the reputation of the band behind the album cause you to make a decision about the music? This is I did with Karnivool’s “Sound Awake”, and it’s something I was completely wrong to do. This album is a progressive rock masterpiece and will appeal to anyone who listens to Dead Letter Circus, Birds of Tokyo, heck – maybe even Tool.

Karnivool is an Australian band, which means that I should have liked them from the outset – I’m already a huge fan of lots of Australian acts including Dead Letter Circus, Closure in Moscow, The Butterfly Effect, and Assemble the Empire. However, Karnivool originally had a reputation as being a nu metal band, which was only bolstered by their previous outing, “Themata”.

So, for the longest time, I passively ignored all the glowing praise that “Sound Awake” was receiving and focused my attention on a multitude of other bands. Eventually, though, I ran out of new music to listen to and was forced to start looking through reviews I had initially ignored. Ironically, it’s now me writing a review about this album.

The first thing you’ll notice about “Sound Awake” is that the bass is very audible. Many bands today downplay their bassist; in fact, all too often, the bass is barely audible amongst the other instruments. Not the case there. It’s loud, in your face, and serves as a backbone for many of the songs.

The drumming is also quite interesting on this album; drummer Steve Judd makes use of interesting time signatures à la Tool, and even utilizes a xylophone here and there.

Ian Kenny’s vocals are another great thing on the album, as he possesses a voice that has great range, but doesn’t sound like that of a teenager.

Sound Awake

However, the best part of this album is just how everything comes together. This music is complex, yet accessible. There’s a lot going on, but it’s always focused. Not only that, but it’s pretty down-tempo; this is rock, but it’s not high-octane rock. I think it would work fine for studying.

Check out the sample songs I’ve posted and let me know what you think. I’ve noticed that I’m starting to branch out into genres that wouldn’t normally be considered “study-appropriate”, but I really can’t help it; I want to write about the music that’s on my mind.

If you’d like to buy this album, you can get it on Amazon here.