Release date: 19th July, 2013
Asymmetry is the third album by Australian progressive band Karnivool. Well-known for their album Sound Awake(2009), fans of the band believe Karnivool are yet to disappoint but with this record, they’ve certainly ventured in a direction which might not keep them afloat on the success of Sound Awake for very long.
The album starts off with Aum which is an atmospheric track with brooding sounds. Nachash is slightly heavier and messy. Karnivool are trying so hard to experiment on this album and yet not budging from their base. Ian Kenny on vocals is the band’s strongest performer. However, on Asymmetry, his vocal prowess is anything but satisfactory. His hooks are too few and far between. As far as We Are, the single off the album, is concerned, the drums and riffs dominate the mix and what you’re left with is largely a mess. It isn’t memorable, a trait you’d identify the band with. The Refusal delves into the heavy side with screamer vocals, but it threatens to derail the album.
Karnivool ends up creating huge impenetrable walls of sound and distortion which just block out what really works for them – Kenny’s vocals. On Aeons, they get the atmospheric sound just right. It’s a track light on guitars and heavy on drums (there’s Steve Judd to thank for that) but it works. The album is 66 minutes long and for an album that long, the number of memorable songs is disappointingly low.
Sky Machine and Alpha Omega make the rest of the record pale in comparison, as they’re easily the best songs off Asymmetry. Float and Alpha Omega work beautifully for Ian Kenny. But in the end, they don’t work out quite so well for Karnivool.
The album ends with Om – a piano track with a recording of a man talking about death.
Asymmetry is an album you have to push down your throat because it comes from a good band which made this album probably out of pressure from fans who, in all honesty, don’t know what they want. The riffs don’t stay in your head, interludes like Amusia are a mess on the drums. There have always been comparisons with Tool and it feels like this album is a conscious effort to make progressive music inaccessible to the average listener. However, complexity for the heck of it is rarely ever appealing and it leads to something pretty self-indulgent, sad to say, like Asymmetry. The tempo changes between aggressive and calm are supposed to be indicative of Kenny’s darker side but they result in chaos for seemingly no rhyme or reason.
Karnivool tried too hard to change what they do well, so they ended up with songs having little to no originality. There are too many interludes and too few hooks, whether vocal or guitar. Asymmetry doesn’t justify the long wait between two albums. The production is flat and at times the instrumentation is hard to segregate or decipher even after multiple listens.
Kenny is the band’s best asset but he is wasted on this record. The hype over the interwebs is something that would make it hard to judge the overall reception of the album, though it is quite likely that Asymmetry will have decent album sales despite having nothing redeemable.
Rating : 2.5/5
You can listen to We Are here.