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Australian Method Series: Karnivool – Themata

“Themata” is the debut album by the Australian band Karnivool. The album was released independently on 7 February 2005. In 2007, Bieler Bros. Records picked it up for a U.S release and in 2008 Happy Go Lucky picked it up for a U.K release.

The band has a “progressive rock” label, but they are not a band that plays a million notes per minute with polymath time signatures. They are a band who are progressive in their song writing, as verses could have different riffs, and a groove could be jammed out over different time signatures. Other labels the band is given is “alternative metal” or “alternative rock”. Whatever the label, they created a metal album which got radio air play.

Karnivool are Ian Kenny on lead vocals, Drew Goddard on guitar and string arrangements plus he wrote all of the album’s songs and performed drums on every track, except for “Life Like” which was performed by Ray Hawkins. Mark Hosking on guitar and Jon Stockman on bass.

24 years later it still sounds as fresh as it did back in 2005.

“Cote”

I like the mood this song sets up. It’s a great opener, almost like “A Perfect Circle”.

I suppose this question will be answered
And I suppose the answers are here to save us

“Themata”

The title track that hooked me in.

And Ian Kenny is one talented vocalist who also has a very successful mainstream pop rock act called “Birds Of Tokyo”. His delivery on the title track is “Lead Singer Hero” worthy.

The “Kashmir” like violins that come in towards the end are haunting and hypnotic. It’s a beast of a song and it was doing the rounds on Australian radio.

It’s so good to see
This world is alive

And by the end of the song, Kenny is singing, “it’s so good to see this world I’m in loves me”.

And I was reminded of “The Tea Party” so I listened to this song over and over and over again.

“Shutter Speed”

It’s got a heavy groove that reminds me of Disturbed and a great Chorus.

Check out the small melodic lead riff in the middle of the song, which brings back memories of Mark Tremonti from his Creed days.

“Fear Of The Sky”

The jarring intro reminds me of songs from “The Mars Volta” and “At The Drive In”.

Another song with a great chorus. At the 3 minute mark it quietens down only to build up again. Check it out.

“Roquefort”

It’s a fan favourite.

The intro riff grooves around various time signatures but it still sounds like its in 4/4, almost Tool like.

You want to chase, this rabbit down a hole
You start to slide and lose grip of control

Ian Kenny delivers another great vocal merging Deftones and Tool like vocals.

Listen to the vocal and bass section from about 3.10.

And remember that the drums are played by the guitarist.

“Life Like”

It’s got the embryo of what “Themata” would become. It was released as a single about two years before the album came out.

Its more Nu-Metal than what “Themata” is, almost Linkin Park like musically, but with David Dramain singing.

“Scarabs”

It’s a 2 minute, Groove Nu Metal instrumental, with some frantic drumming and bone crushing riffage.

“Sewn and Silent”

An acoustic guitar led song, comes in at the perfect time, like the eye of the storm.

Check out the section from about 2.30 to 3.01.

“Mauseum”

Djent like riffs before “djent” became a style. At 2.20 it changes to a slower melodic groove.

Press play and listen.

“Synops”

It’s “Themata” part 2 and another highlight with its exotic eastern feel. Another song which reminds me of “The Tea Party”.

Leave no light on, this war, it rages in me
Leave no light on, this war, I fear it won’t end

“Change (Part 1)”

An anti-climax. But like a Marvel movie, it’s an end credits scene to forecast the next album and the style to come.

“Themata” is an excellent example of Australian metal with some progressive overtones. There are pop choruses, big Mesa Boogie riffs or fuzzed out tones, vocals that cover a lot of different styles. Maynard Keenan, Chris Cornell, Chester Bennington, David Draiman, Chino Moreno, Mike Patton, Jonathan Davis, Thom Yorke, Davey Havok and my favourite, Serj Tankian when he’s doing his exotic clean tone melodies are all covered and mixed in with Kenny’s life experiences and emotions.

In between Karnivool albums, Ian Kenny worked on his “Birds Of Tokyo” project with great success.

Fast forward to 2021, Karnivool has been recording new music. It will be their first bit of new music since 2013 and the “Asymmetry” album. And an audience awaits.

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