Fresh on the heels of lead singer Ian Kenny's massive success with side project Birds of Tokyo, Karnivool's sophomore album, Sound Awake, picks up with pieces of what made the band so popular the first time around, but augments that with new elements. The core of alternative/nu metal that brought the group success on its debut album, Themata, still holds throughout the bulk of this album, but there are little touches of something else. There's an introspective touch in the looser, slower, and sparser "New Day." There's a touch of Audioslave tucked away in "Set Fire to the Hive," and pieces of a Stone Temple Pilots or Velvet Revolver idea in the same piece. The Perth outfit has clearly spent time listening to some of the influences here. The problem with the album, however, is that most of the new progressive elements -- the parts that set the album apart from others in the same airwave-overwhelming genres -- often come across as intricate attempts to mimic Tool. Kenny is a very good singer, but he doesn't have the vocal gravitas of someone in Maynard Keenan's league. That seems to be the factor that impedes whatever innovation is heard here. With a stronger front line in the group, some of the compositions on Sound Awake would truly carry over effectively; when Karnivool are simply innovating and trying out new elements, they turn out to be quite capable. They just need that last push to make the album really something special. ~ Adam Greenberg
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