100% HEAVY / 100% Free / 0% Spam

KARNIVOOL, SLEEP TALK: Liberty Hall, Entertainment Quarter, Sydney 25/05/24

Share This:

Words by Matt New

Pix by Angie New Photography

The feeling of anticipation and excitement never seems to fade every time I get to see Karnivool perform live. A band I have followed with keen enthusiasm for almost 20 years since witnessing them for the very first time supporting COG on The New Normal’ tour back in 2005. They have always been an enigma, our own local version likened to Tool, and a band that has proven to be one of the most influential and under the radar exports in recent memory. Not only for the local bands within the Australian heavy rock scene, but throughout the international music scene. So, whenever Karnivool takes significant time off from touring or releasing new music, we, as their devoted Vooligans, show up in droves to witness the now rare opportunities we get to see this amazing live band.

Joining Karnivool for the Tri-Continental Drift tour was the Adelaide-based Sleep Talk. I have documented many emerging bands that have been fairly unfamiliar to me recently, but all have given me a fresh perspective. It is safe to say that the heavy music scene has some hidden gems that will continue to keep it vibrant and thriving, and Sleep Talk has proven itself to be one of these shining examples.

Sleep Talk’s fusion of genres was quite invigorating, as they weaved a sonic palette that navigated through hardcore, post-hardcore, and progressive metal. They demonstrated an incredible variety within their 45-minute set that kept me fully engaged and banging my head to their primally brutal beats. Not only were their songs great, but every member showcased amazing talents on their respective instruments, especially their lead guitarist Fraser Ray who shredded up a storm. They gave an amazing performance equally deserving of their selection to be on this tour, and I will very much need to check this young band out again when they next visit Sydney to tour, as they were incredible.

Karnivool has always been a band that has remained humble over decades, adding to their lore and why so many adore them. They could have easily filled a larger venue in Sydney, like the Enmore Theatre, for this leg of the tour, but instead chose Liberty Hall to maintain intimacy with their fans. Kicking off the set with one of their more recent releases, All It Takes, followed by crowd favourites COTE and Goliath, Karnivool immediately clicked into gear and were impressively tight. Frontman Ian Kenny took every opportunity between tracks to engage with his devoted audience professionally and humbly, with just the right amount of awkward with that only Kenny knows how to deliver. From expressing his sincere appreciation for the sold-out crowd at Liberty Hall to being overwhelmed by the enthusiasm and volume of the Sydney crowd singing along to their beloved songs, Kenny’s charm was intoxicating. Even his mysterious singing juice added a touch of mystique to his performance and if that’s the secret to his dulcet voice I need to know what it is!

Guitarist Mark Hosking also took time to show his appreciation for the ongoing support and patience with the band, acknowledging that they are long overdue for a new album since 2013’s Asymmetry. In addition to All It Takes, a new song called Aozora debuted on this tour, sparking speculations of a new album on the horizon. Aozora‘ showcased the band’s growth with dense polyrhythms and complex chord structures that exuded math-rock vibes, while Kenny’s vocal melodies soared above with incredible control and conviction. The band’s energy was electric as they performed under a silhouette of a moody and intense light show. Midway through the set, we were treated to a list of classic material, including We Are, Set Fire To The Hive, and Roquefort.

For me, Karnivool is arguably the benchmark for progressive rock and metal in Australia, and has been for quite some time. While Australia has a rich history of producing bands with cult-like followings, Karnivool stands out for their lack of gimmicks and their exceptional musicianship.

Their live performances showcase their consistency and talent, with Kenny’s pitch-perfect vocals, Hoss and Drew’s dynamic guitar work, and Stockman and Judd‘s impeccable rhythm section. The set concluded with a bang as the Perth five-piece wrapped up an amazing evening with fan favorite Themata, followed by a transcendent journey through Aeons and New Day.

The flawless performance left many wanting more, but for die-hard Vooligans, the show would be repeated the following evening. Hopefully, signs point towards new material and future tours, as Australia needs Karnivool, and the heavy music scene needs them even more.

Discover more like this on HEAVY:

Our Picks.

Get the HEAVY

Get the HEAVY Digi-Mag in-boxed weekly. 100% HEAVY / 0%SPAM.