Revolution is a chaotic and unbalanced affair. It challenges the state of things, and for those who revolt against the status quo, it bears both great risk and reward. These truths are as vital in art as they are in any other realm, and it is within these redefining upheavals that Australian hard-rock architects, Karnivool thrive. With their acclaimed 2005 debut, Themata, and 2009’s ground breaking follow-up, Sound Awake, Karnivool established themselves as one of the most vital forces in progressive modern music. Now a major international draw, appearing at festivals such as The Big Day Out, Sonisphere (France), Download (UK), SXSW (US) and Hurricane (Germany), and gaining high praise from international press titans such as Rolling Stone, Billboard Magazine, Kerrang! and Rocksound, Karnivool have belied expectation again with album number three, the brazen and introspective, Asymmetry. This expansive new work was designed in the band’s Perth studio over two years, before in late 2012, the Karnivool caravan headed across the continent to bunker down with legendary producer, Nick DiDia (Rage Against The Machine, Mastodon) at Byron Bay’s Studios 301.
“I think each time Karnivool walk into another record we all want to explore new ground,” explains vocalist, Ian Kenny of the band’s writing process. “We want to open the door to our musical basement, switch the light off and tumble down the stairs into god knows what. Each time we switch the light on again we are a different band.”
“We wanted this record to be a natural evolution from Sound Awake,” adds guitarist, Drew Goddard. “It needed to be more honest and raw, sound wise and song wise, exploring unchartered territory for the band while holding true to the things that make Karnivool... Karnivool.”
And why not hold on to those idiosyncrasies? Those intangible qualities that can only be found between the light and shade of Karnivool’s music have garnered them a uniquely fervent and dedicated fan-base, moving over a quarter of a million albums along the way.True to their word and reputation, the band again strove to redefine themselves in the construction of this new opus. They would hold onto their shared vision and spirit while turning away from so many of the building blocks that had been integral to their journey thus far. Once more they flattened the safety net, and jumped. The result is Asymmetry, the most compelling and organic Karnivool album to date. From the sprawling anti-pop arrangements to Didia’s apocalyptic mix, it is unlike anything this quintet has given us before, and like all good records, it will ask much of the listener. Asymmetry overwhelms with beauty and brutality; but even those qualities, seemingly at odds with each other, infer balance, when in reality this album’s real power lies in flawed symmetry, in the unique majesty of imperfection.
“Asymmetry literally means a lack of symmetry, but the subtleties of it are endless and amazing,” explains guitarist Mark Hosking. “Sometimes, the most beautiful subject seems perfect at first glance, but in time you see the subtleties that bring out asymmetry. Faces and hands are the perfect example; it’s very human, and this can be wonderfully reflected in music.”
“As a theme or title, it’s very much a broad brushstroke,” says Goddard of the album’s moniker. “It’s one that we feel encompasses where we are at in a musical sense at this point in time. We are very much into big ideas that are open to interpretation, ideas that can mean different things to different members of the band as well as the listener.”
“To me it’s about balance,” adds Kenny. “When two halves are slightly different but one and the same, there is harmony. That's what we as a band want to find in music, and in people. The core of Karnivool is always looking inwards. We turn to each other for the next move and that's where we, as a collective, find a way to create something that we call our own. It's the people in this band that separate us from the status quo; it’s why we’ll continue to push all boundaries until we fall over the edge.”