|©2002 12th Planet Records
2. Melodies Of Sperm Composed
3. A Face Disfigured By Thorns
5. Eyes Of Larva
6. My Enchanting Normality
7. Angel Hooked
8. Pollen Of My Penis
9. Other Two Days
10. Zeder (CD-ROM Only Bonus Track)
Karnak draw from a lot of influences, mainly in the progrock and more technical sides of death metal, and they manage to churn it together into a very cohesive, catchy, yet fulfilling album. Several times while listening to this album I'm reminded of Pestilence's swansong Spheres, but this is without a doubt a lot more exciting than Spheres is, due to what I feel is better songwriting and more variation. Do not mistake me though, Pestilence clones these guys are not, as Karnak draw inspiration from a whole slew of influences, and manages to put them to good use, without ever sounding hurried or uninspired. There are not big stylistic breaks, but this goes from very brutal death metal, to almost ambient bits, to most levels in between. Hell, there's even a groovy bit here and there, just to throw odd-meter headbanging out of the loop.
Performance wise there's really nothing to complain about here, as these guys hold together through every twist and turn of the songs but never suffer from the clinical feeling that bands like this can quickly end up with. The vocals hop between some quite good screaming that bears some resemblance to Chuck Schuldiner, and a spoken word approach which I don't care too much for. Some death metal fans might have trouble with the synths, but I feel Karnak are able to really incorporate them in their songs, not making them sound silly (like, for example, Bal-Sagoth). And they really help build up the more lowkey sections of the songs.
Admittedly this isn't all brilliant; some songs hold together better than others and the guitar solos vary wildly in quality, some ending up just hopping along at full pace with what seems like very little thought given to phrasing or even an attempt at doing something exciting with them. And the track "Pollen of my penis" is frankly a bit boring, which is surprising, considering the high quality of the rest of the album. Some might have problems with the decidedly mysogynic nature of the lyrics, but hey, this is death metal. If you're going to dislike someone because of violent lyrics, this just might not be your kind of genre.
I highly recommend this album to anyone who's interested in the more technical sides of death metal, and fans of truly progressive metal in general. While this is still a few rungs down the ladder from albums like Cynic's Focus or Atheist's Unquestionable Presence, this is still one hell of a release.
PS: This is an "Enhanced CD" which includes a lot of extra things like a bonus track, which unfortunately is only on a computer, a heap of bandpictures, and various general band information.
Review by Řystein H-O
Review date: 04/2002