This album was the first to really blow me away in a very long time. I bought it on a whim, and to my surprise, it has had incredible replay value. From the standpoint of a modern progressive rock/metal fan, I can draw comparisons to bands such as Dream Theater, Pain of Salvation, Opeth, etc…But to be quite honest, there are a number of modern progressive bands who fit into this category and are actually rather mediocre. This is the first band I’ve seen who has managed to (A) Really incorporate notable jazz and classical influences, and (B) Traverse not only genre-barriers, but time-barriers as well.
To elaborate on (A), there are plenty of so-called progressive bands who claim to be influenced by jazz, classical, and funk music, but are all talk. Having one or two sections with walking bass lines, grand piano, and/or “wanky” guitars does not necessarily mean you can tack on another genre to your name and feign “diversity.” Karmakanic, on the hand, has clearly had experience playing primarily jazz, and primarily classical music. All of it is seamlessly incorporated in the framework of a “modern progressive” song structure. For once, I feel like I can genuinely associate a solid progressive band with multiple music categories.
To elaborate on (B), Karmakanic are older guys. They probably grew up listening to what was once described as progressive music: ELP, Yes, King Crimson, Genesis, etc. And while I am too young to make similar claims, I can hear Karmakanic’s references to their roots, especially in songs like “Send a Message from the Heart,” and “Eternally” (Both of which are reminiscent of, say, The Flower Kings). But in addition to this, the band has proven itself capable of adapting to modern audiences (which include people such as myself) with songs like “Boss in the Factory” and “Let in Hollywood.” With their wild, stylized textures, ethereal vocal harmonies, and subtle time/tempo changes, it is clear that they know what appeals to younger prog fans, as well as what appeals to older audiences. Blend these two factors together, and you have “Who’s The Boss In The Factory.”
When I say that this album is an entirely new brand of prog, I refer to Karmakanic’s ability to “progress” through different genres, different time-periods, and different audiences. Whereas today, progressive bands can get away with a few random bars of 7/8 and nonsensical chord progressions, Karmakanic clearly knows what they are doing. And with this album, they finally deliver the strongest dose of this I have seen for a very long time.
Eagerly awaiting this band’s next release.