Asymmetry is Karnivool’s third album, succeeding Sound Awake after a long four years, but this album is certainly worth the wait. It delivers sounds and instrumental combinations unique to Karnivool. Asymmetry follows the band’s trajectory into progressive rock but it is streaked with riffs and stinging snares which are characteristic of the band’s metal side. The ARIA 2013 award for Best Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Album was given to Asymmetry and with good reason: the album sports features of both genres that will strongly appeal to fans of either or both hard rock and heavy metal.
Aum opens Asymmetry into a haunting prelude that leads into the bass-laced build-up of Nachash, promising much and delivering more in a high energy entrance to the album. We Are, the first single released from Asymmetry, has an anthemic rhythm that later fades to bring focus to Ian Kenny’s gentle chant-like vocals. The smooth and clear qualities to Kenny’s vocals paired with forceful screams supplied by backing vocals complement well in The Refusal.
Quiet moments are infrequent but fit in perfectly where they’re found. These breaks amongst the harsh guitar and percussion are savoured as the listener well understands that they are about to be thrown into the heavier end of a track. Aeons, Float, and Sky Machine are the standout tracks here. They deviate from the coarser edges of the album with lower energy sound, like the calm before a storm.
A whimsical atmosphere arises from reverberating lead guitar with an almost shoegaze-like quality to it in Eidolon, which feels somewhat out of place but is not unwelcome. This balance between soft and coarse makes the palette of the album much more epic and interesting than other albums with a similar sound.
Alpha starts with a relaxed, slow and steady beat, almost like a ballad, but the song erupts into a rigid military march towards the final track, Om. Asymmetry closes with a spoken recording of 20th century philosopher Gerald Heard along with tentative piano, instigating more careful listening.
Showcasing vast variations between themes and sounds, Asymmetry is truly representative of Karnivool’s tendency to experiment with contrasting ideas. The changes can be abrupt and merciless or slowly worked in, but both are executed deftly and seamlessly. The album showcases the band’s talent in dabbling in multiple genres which makes for an entertaining listen. With fourteen tracks, however, it sometimes feels as if they lose direction and wander around until a more distinct track binds everything together again. Despite its length, Asymmetry delivers a fantastic progressive rock and metal sound that should please long-time fans and new listeners alike.