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Karnivool - The Garage, Glasgow - November 16 2013 (Live Review)

Wednesday, 20 November 2013 Written by Jonathan Rimmer

Though they are the current kings of the Australian rock scene, it’s difficult to gauge exactly where Karnivool stand in international terms. The jump from Glasgow's cosy King Tut's venue, which they played a few years ago, to infamous nightclub The Garage, would suggest that the five-piece's stock has risen. They are starting to demonstrate the commanding qualities that could see them build up a real following on these shores.

Opening tech-metal act TesseracT were certainly not just filling up time though. Having already toured earlier in the year, supporting the album 'Altered State', they seem to have sharpened their sound with new vocalist Ashe O'Hara.

Though The Garage is not the ideal set up for the band's textured guitar sequences, the crowd responded well to their heavier tracks, even if the polyrhythms cause some interesting methods of headbanging. O'Hara stole the show though, with his impressive range on tracks like Nocturne and Concealing Fate truly captivating the uninitiated.

Karnivool had to wait a little longer for a big reaction. Their first two tracks, an interlude and the dissonant The Last Few, were odd choices to open with, and this was made more obvious by how contrasting the rapturous reception to their classic anthem Themata was.

Once a guaranteed set-closer, the song is nonetheless the only one to be played from their debut. This proved a blessing and a curse; the band's progression in sound on newer tracks is obvious but the quality varies.

Cuts from the new 'Asymmetry' LP are sonically impressive but tend to lack the immediate impact of their previous material. That is not to say that Karnivool don't perform each tune with utter conviction. Frontman Ian Kenny danced and gesticulated like he was attempting to catch a butterfly on stage, but his vocals were on point regardless. On tracks like Simple Boy, the band might as well have been playing the studio recording, partly because of the use of loops and drum machines, but also due to their impeccable musicianship.

Karnivool's set frequently see-sawed between atmospheric reverb and more immediate aggression, but there was always enough structure to justify the band's oppositional tastes. The only real problem the band faces is streamlining, with slow tracks frequently killing momentum.

One good setlist choice the band did make was ending their encore on New Day, arguably the most complete representation of their sound, and it caused a mass singalong. It is a shame that “the ‘vool” only get to grace the UK with their presence every couple of years, because their progressive approach is refreshingly different from our own roster. Hopefully, by the next time they arrive in Glasgow, they'll have graduated once more.

Karnivool UK & Ireland Tour Dates are as follows

Wed November 20 2013 - BIRMINGHAM Library, The Institute
Thu November 21 2013 - LONDON KOKO

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