Tag Archives: Karnataka

They’re a completely different subgenre of rock, but you could make a good argument that Karnataka’s three most recent studio albums, “Delicate Flame of Desire”, “The Gathering Light” and “Secrets of Angels” are the same sort of trinity of albums as “Rainbow Rising”, “Heaven and Hell” and “Holy Diver” in more than one way. Discuss.

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Karnataka – Bilston Robin 2

A few photos of Karnataka’s recent gig at Bilston Robin 2. The band were on superb live form despite slightly poor sound early on, combining hard rock bombast with evocative symphonic celtic-progressive epics. Hayley Griffiths’ dynamic stage presence leaves the impression that they really ought to be playing far bigger stages.

The current incarnation of the band have fully gelled now, with the most recent recruit, drummer Jimmy Pallagrosi the final piece in the jigsaw. He does give the impression that Animal from The Muppets is his role model.

The setlist naturally drew heavily from the newest album “Secrets of Angels”, with a mesmerising rendition of the lengthy title track one of the highlights. They’ve given the rest of the set a big shakeup, with three songs from “The Gathering Light” incuding the Enrico Pinna guitar showcase “Forsaken” and an excellent “Moment in Time”. They finished with their barnstorming cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir”.

They’re a very different band nowadays that Karnatakas past.  And with just a couple of songs remaining from the earliest incarnation of the band, maybe someone else should start a tribute act?

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Congratulations to Karnataka for winning Best Album for the superb “Sectets of Angels” in this year’s CRS Awards, the prog-rock equivalent of The Hugos. The does not make The Guardian look good.

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Is there a word for an earworm that’s a combination of two different songs? I’ve got one with the verse of Suede’s “I don’t know how to reach you” flips into the chorus of Karnataka’s “Tide to Fall”,

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Karnataka announce 2016 tour

Karnataka have announced an extensive tour across April, May and June covering much of the UK as well as dates in The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and Italy, promoting their highly-aclaimed album “Secrets of Angels”.

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Have The Guardian just rigged their readers’ poll?

Disgraceful behaviour by The Guardian for The best albums of 2015 – readers’ picks 

We are in accord! For the first time any of us can recall, Guardian readers and Guardian writers had the same two favourite albums of the year, in the same order. This year, in a rare moment of rigour, we decided to exclude obvious attempts to game the system – so, Tinker’s Mitten (“like a beefier Flying Pickets”, one reader suggested, enticingly), Jodie Marie and Karnataka, we’re sorry; but next time you suspect your admirers might be voting for you en masse in a poll, tell them not to all vote at the same time (we record exactly when each vote is cast, for exactly this reason). Had they only spread their votes out a little more, all might well have featured in our top five.

So The Guardian admit to rigging the ballot, and the results then just happen to validate the boring consensus picks of the paper’s own critics.

Sorry, Guardian, but this stinks to high heaven.

If you run a poll with a public ballot on the internet with a very low barrier to entry, you surrender your riight to gatekeep the results, and accept the risk that outsiders might come and gatecrash your party. This happened last year when veteran punk satirists Half Man Half Biscuit was voted readers’ album of the year. The general consensus at the time was “Good on them. Anyone else could have done the same”.

What’s different this year, aside from Karnataka not being sufficiently fashionable for the gatekeepers? Running a ballot, then changing the rules when you get a result you don”t like really is out of order.

The irony is that had they not excluded Jodie Marie and Karnataka, they wouldn’t have have ended up with an all-male top five.  So much for the diversity The Guardian prides itself in.

A couple of minutes Googling reveals that there is no such band as “Tinker’s Mitten”. This might be because The Guardian got their name wrong, or it might be that The Guardian got pranked with votes for a fake band.  But Karnataka and Jodie Marie are very real. Were they just accidental collateral damage?

At this point the best thing The Guardian can do is admit that they screwed up, and republish a top ten (not a top five) with both Karnataka and Jodie Marie reinstated.

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2015 Albums of the Year – Part Four

Into the top five, with only the Album of the Year to go. Two or three of these albums could easily been the album of the year themselves. Again, they’re not in any order, consider them all equal 2nd.

Amorphis – Under the Red Cloud

Amorphis Under the Red CloudWhat is it about Scandinavia and metal? A disproportionate number of the most imaginative and innovative metal of recent years has come from Sweden, Norway and especially Finland. Amorphis hail from the last of those nations, and have delivered a quite remarkable record which cannot be pigeonholed in any of metal’s narrow subgenres. There are moments of death metal, folk metal and gothic rock, and the occasional nod to 70s classic rock. It can be piledrivingly heavy at times, but always hugely melodic, with melodies that owe as much to the twin guitars as the vocals. Like the best metal bands they demonstrates superb use of dynamics. Many songs combine clear vocals with death growls, often using one style on the verse and the other on the chorus. As a contemporary metal album this record is absolutely state of the art.

Karnataka – Secrets of Angels

Karnataka - Secrets of AngelsKarnataka’s fifth studio album is a very different beast from 2007′s “The Gathering Light”, as much so as that album was from “Delicate Flame of Desire”. But the three were the products of three very different bands. The newest incarnation of Karnataka with Hayley Griffiths on vocals and Cagri Tozluoglu on keys have come up with a huge-sounding record with more than a hint of European symphonic metal about it, with recurring lyrical themes of adultery and betrayal. The early part of the album is filled with hook-laden potential singles. Then it closes with the twenty-minute title track which combines evocative celtic soundscapes with massive symphonic rock crescendos and features a guest appearance from Troy Donockley. With this record Karnataka managed to take on the likes of Nightwish and beat them at their own game, which is no mean achievement.

Chantel McGregor – Lose Control

Chantel McGregor - Lose ControlIt been four years since the Yorkshire guitarist and singer-songwriter released her début album, but the follow-up not only proved to be well worth the wait, but is a very different sort of record. With a “Southern Gothic” theme it’s heavier, darker and far more song-focussed, with elements of grunge and progressive rock. There’s more emphasis on memorable riffs than on extended guitar wig-outs; she takes a less-is-more approach to soloing. Hard rockers alternate with delicate acoustic numbers, and the album closes with the ambitious kaleidoscopic epic “Walk on Land”.

Bruce Soord

Bruce Soord Solo AlbumThe self-titled solo album by the Pineapple Thief mainman is a thing of beauty, with echoes of Guy Garvey, recent Anathema and Steven Wilson at his less bombastic. It’s an album of soaring atmospheric soundscapes, often semi-acoustic but always hugely melodic, with arrangements varying from acoustic minimalism to richly layered. It takes one unexpected sharp left turn early on with the disco-funk of “The Odds”, but the gorgeously dreamy “Born in Delusion” and “Familiar Patterns” are far more representative of the album. Quite different in mood to The Pineapple Thief, but a very enjoyable record.

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Karnataka, 229 The Venue in London

Karnataka at the 229 club

As part of the promotion for the single “‘Because of You”, Karnataka played a free showcase gig at 229 The Venue in central London. Though the purpose of the gig was really to gather media attention (I’m told there were a number of tastemakers from the BBC present), there was a good turnout of dedicated fans, and the small venue was well-filled.

Crowded onto a tiny stage, they played two sets, the first made up of six shorter numbers from “Secrets of Angels” culminating in the Nightwishesque new single. The second set featured the lengthy epic title track along with two older numbers, “Delicate Flame of Desire” and “Your World”.

Though they had to cut the set slightly short and skip the planned encore because Hayley’s voice was giving out by the end, it was still a highly enjoyable show, and the first half in particular had a lot of  energy.

This is a band whose album has gone beyond giving many European symphonic metal bands a run for their money, and all comes over very powerfully live. Let’s hope they made as good an impression on any tastemakers present as they did with their dedicated fans, and we get to see them on far bigger stages.

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Karnataka, Bilston Robin 2

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It’s been more than two years since Karnataka last toured the UK. Fronted by their third lead singer, former Riverdance singer Hayley Griffiths, the new-look Karnataka made a strong impression back in 2012. Extensive touring spawned the DVD “New Light”. Since then they’ve have spent most of the past couple of years in the studio recording a new album. But despite the length of time they’ve been away, they pulled an appreciable crowd for a Sunday Night on the fourth date of the “Secrets of Angels” tour.

The band the stage with a bang, opening the brand new “Road to Cairo”, a driving hard rock number number some people may have recognised since it appeared on the cover disk of Prog magazine ahead of the album release. Although Hayley promised they’d be playing the new album in full, for the first set the emphasis was on well-known favourites; a powerful “Talk To Me”, “The Right Time”, and an impressively rocked-up take on “Delicate Flame of Desire”, featuring some evocative guitar work from Enrico Pinna. A drum-heavy reworked intro heralded the lengthy “The Gathering Light” to bring us to the interval.

If the first set focussed on the familiar, the second half was almost entirely new, and this was where Hayley Griffiths really came into her own with material written to take full advantage of the remarkable power and range of her voice, as demonstrated by the operatic high notes of “Poison Ivy”. It was all very dramatic and dynamic, closer to the symphonic metal of bands like Nightwish than the ethereal sounds of their early days. They finished with the epic-length title track parts of which saw a return to the celtic atmospheric side of their music.

They encored with the lighters-in-the-air ballad “Feels Like Home”, with an a cappella ending, and it was all over, leaving you wishing for more.

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Karnataka were a great live band back in 2012, but this performance saw them raise their game to another level. Hayley Griffiths’ dramatic stage presence and stagecraft makes her the obvious visual focus of the band, and she’s more confident now in the role of rock frontwoman, even if her song introductions occasionally sounded a little stilted. Enrico Pinna has to be one of the most talented guitarists in any band of this level; reeling off magnificent cascading solos. And new drummer Jimmy Pallagrosi made a very strong impression; with his mop of hair and the storm he kicked up behind the kit he sometimes seemed to be channelling Animal from the Muppets.

Karnataka have gone through a lot of changes over the years; bassist and composer Ian Jones is the sole constant factor, and Enrico Pinna is the only other remaining member from the band that recorded their previous studio album “The Gathering Light”. But the way they reinterpret older material rather than attempt to faithfully recreate the originals should have long dispelled the idea that they’re any kind of glorified tribute band, and the emphasis on new material on this tour shows a band looking to the future rather than the past. While there were still one or two who preferred earlier versions of the band, finding this incarnation too bombastic, the newer harder-rocking Karnataka won over the vast majority of the crowd in Bilston.

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Secrets of Angels Trailer

Karnataka have released a trailer for their new album “Secrets of Angels”. Pre-orders should ship in early March.

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