Karnak - Official Website


Italy Country of Origin: Italy

Send eMail
Type: Full-Length
Release Date: 1997
Label: Self Released
Genre: Death
1. Hatred Within
2. Wings Of Destiny
3. The Rapture Of Cremation
4. Shroud For Jesus
5. Magnify The Absolute Maledicent
6. Perverted
7. In Silence
8. Estrangement Of Hesitation

Review by chrisc7249 on April 28, 2022.

Karnak is a rare example of a technical death metal outfit from the 1990s that lived to see themselves create more than one album without a split up, a rarity for the time. For every band like them, or perhaps Violent Dirge or Will 'o' Wisp, there's a dozen bands like Thormenthor, Tempestas, Catharsis and Succubus. This band emerged from the blossoming Italian scene that began to form in the early 1990s with bands like Sadist leading the way. 1997 was a very active year for technical death metal all across the world, as the scene began to prepare for the next millennium of bands - Karnak's debut coincided with many other debuts from bands such as Martyr, Capharnaum, Scenery and fellow country mates Algophobia and the aforementioned Will 'o' Wisp. Quite a tall task to stand out among such a wide variety of bands, so it should come as no surprise that Karnak is one of the least talked about of time and this album has yet to receive a review up until this point…

Karnak's twisted and mechanical sound, paired with its lackluster production must be grating to some ears, but there is some beauty that lies beneath this vile mass of cacophonic riffing. Yes, the production is far from the best, even for this time. The drums sound like they're programmed on a poor quality $300 electric drum kit made for children. The guitars and the riffs that accompany them are hard to decipher with just one listen, regardless of the quality of your speaker/headphones. The vocals are drowned in the background, yet the bass is surprisingly audible. This is one of those records where I go back and forth on whether or not this is a fretless bass, but I can't really tell even with repeated listens. Could be, could not be. Regardless, this is far from a clean sound and most people might classify it as downright atrocious, but there's interesting music to be heard here, and that's all I care about really…

Opener 'Hatred Within' kicks the album off by greeting the listener with dizzying technicality, with Death-like riffs crashing into one another, strung along jaggedly to create a wreckfest of labyrinthe riffing. This is followed by my personal favorite track, the head spinning 'Wings Of Destiny' which doubles down on the Death influence by making a song that can be equated to an even more frantic version of an "Individual Thought Patterns" cut. 'The Rapture Of Cremation' is a jarring mix of middle era Gorguts and prime Disharmonic Orchestra, with dissonant chugs and riffs that once again collide into one another with pure rage.

'Shroud For Jesus' and 'Perverted' take a trippier approach to their frantic playing with nods to Sadist and perhaps even Will 'o' Wisp. 'Magnify The Absolute Maledicent' and closer 'Estrangement Of Hesitation' are vicious displays of mind warping tech death, as if Atheist decided to rewrite their first three albums and the only drug they took was LSD for 3 months straight. 'In Silence' is perhaps the most chaotic of them all, sounding like an absolutely sick mash up of "Nespithe" and "Focus," again, heavily laced with LSD.

For all this blistering speed and challenging technicality, one would expect to be overwhelmed by the schizophrenic approach to death metal, but alas, I tend to sometimes get bored with this album, especially in the latter half. Nothing is particularly bad, however I feel the band's fragmented approach to jazzy tech death tends to wear thin despite the runtime being only 30 minutes. Regardless, there is good music to be had here, and the band certainly displays their skill and intensity and have set themselves up to impress in the future. I have not heard their follow up album which was released a few years later, but I imagine, with a better sound and some more focus on songwriting, the band has the potential to drop a 9 or even a 10 spot on me. For this one, a 7 will do. It's extremely interesting, the way they approach their off kilter technical death metal, and their influences shine bright in their sound - alas, it is a debut and the immaturity isn't avoidable. Still a good listen, and certainly one fans of the genre should try out at least once.

FFO: Disharmonic Orchestra, Death, Atheist

Favorite song: 'Wings Of Destiny'

Rating: 7 out of 10