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Karnivool - "Themata" (CD)

Karnivool - "Themata" CD cover image

"Themata" track listing:

1. Cote
2. Themata
3. Shutterspeed
4. Fear Of The Sky
5. Roquefort
6. L1fel1ke
7. Scarabs
8. Sewn And Silent
9. Mauseum
10. Synops
11. Omitted For Clarity
12. Change (Part 1)

Reviewed by on August 1, 2010

"Karnivool's 'Themata' offers up an appealing combination of agression and melody, with some pleasant surprises along the way."

With a bass-heavy Tool-lite sound instrumentally, and excellent vocals from singer Ian Kenny, Karnivool's "Themata" is just the thing for those seeking more melody in their metal. Though I sometimes found myself wishing for more departures from the mid-tempo groove, I was pleasantly surprised by the variety of sounds found on this Australian band's first full-length disc, released in the United States in 2007.

The band isn't shy about taking elements from outside the metal mainstream, such as the Middle Eastern orchestral sounds that permeates the title track, ducking through Mark Hosking and Drew Goddard's guitar lines. "Synops" includes electronica, with the end distorted enough to sound like Nine Inch Nails. Riff-wise, my favorite is probably the bluesy "Roquefort," which seems to channel Karnivool's fellow Aussies Wolfmother a bit.

Soft sounds get their due on the gorgeous "Sewn And Silent," which, other than an electric solo, is almost entirely acoustic, with strings. "Change (Part 1)," which ends the album, is even quieter, building to an electric crescendo that is only hinted at here. The band's next album, "Sound Awake," completes the cycle with "Change (Part 2)."

At the same time, Karnivool can rock out with the best of them, as faster, more aggressive tracks like "L1fel1ke" and "Scarabs" show, with "Scarabs" featuring drummer Jon Stockman's best performance on the disc. A couple more tracks along this line would probably have benefited the album, though at nearly 50 minutes, it's already plenty long.

Karnivool's "Themata" offers up an appealing combination of agression and melody, with some pleasant surprises along the way. Those with a taste for melodic and progressive sounds will find much to love.

Highs: "Themata," "Roquefort," "Sewn And Silent" and "Scarabs"

Lows: A little more aggression would've benefited the album.

Bottom line: An excellent melodic metal disc, with some surprising departures from the genre.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)