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Outside In: Karmatrain

Although progressive rock seems to have permeated all parts of the world, from memory, Outside In may well be the first band of that persuasion that I’ve encountered from New Zealand. With releases stretching back to 2015, Karmatrain finds the band quite some way down the path in their evolution and confident in their abilities to deliver on their intents. With a twin guitar attack at their disposal from Jonnie Barnard and Joe Park, you could be forgiven for presuming that the effect would be heavy and hard and yet arguably it’s the synth/keys (and yes, another guitar) contributions from singer (yes, he does that too!) Mikey Brown that often steers the ship. Rounded out by a supremely engaging rhythm section featuring drummer Adam Tobeck and bassist Elliott Seung Il Park, all the different aspects that this collective bring together remind of quite a varied selection of prog heavyweights without a true over reliance on any one.

“Let Me Go” opens proceedings revealing a liking for Riverside as it also illustrates how Brown’s vocals can slide into a Mariusz Duda like croon. That latter feature is something that helps set the tone throughout, with the laid back, almost downbeat delivery from behind the mic adding a melancholy, although never overwrought, edge to proceedings that proves hugely involving. With Opeth from their Damnation era also brought into play in the yearning guitar forays, it’s a heady mix and one confirmed by the beautiful “The Lake”. Hence it’s easy to think that we’ve got a handle on what’s to come here but the more contemporary “Blue Dragon” moves things into the accessibly acceptable side of prog that the likes of Muse and Radiohead seem to have been able to convince the masses isn’t prog at all. Whereas “The Garden Of Light” brings an insistence that is rare in a track that not once seeks to overplay its hand. Cleverly, Karmatrain also has two interesting jumping on points, with the classic, but more often than not elusive, mix of instant gratification and long reveals combined in such a way that “The Ferryman” pricks up the ears from the very first play, while “Om” and its building despair only really lets go of its secrets after quite a few encounters.

Karmatrain may well be my first dalliance with prog from New Zealand, but if it is all as good as this album, then it’s a scene we should all get to know Outside In.

Track Listing
1. Let Me Go
2. Blue Dragon
3. Echoes and Stepping Stones
4. Bridges
5. Morning Warning
6. The Lake
7. The Garden of Light
8. Mushrooms
9. The Ferryman
10. Pass On the Flag
11. Om
12. I Am Not the One
13. Man Behind the Curtain

Added: September 13th 2020
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Outside In @ bandcamp
Hits: 492
Language: english

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