Karma Depth - Resilience

Year of Release: 2005
Label: Self-released
Catalog Number: n/a
Format: CD
Total Time: 78:57:00

Although their musical preferences are rather varied there's one constant factor in the lives of our four Belgian friends here and that is their admiration for Dream Theater. After a myriad of local bands, the four of them decided to write some more technical based music together, based around the ingenious arrangements of their big examples. Needless to say they often included DT covers during their humble beginnings, although it soon became clear that these guys wanted to create their very own music asap. Having followed this foursome for a couple of years, I noticed they went from strength to strength. Sadly their musical genre is not the kind of music that gets possibilities galore, enabling the band to take to the stage during every single festival. Instead they have to concentrate themselves to only a handful of gigs a year. It is a well-known fact that bands grow at a tremendous speed whenever they get the opportunity to play lots of gigs. It's kind of a learning school with ups and downs resulting in a much tighter unit. Karma Depth is a very tight unit where friendship is concerned, which no doubt is a very important factor in the life of any band.

Last year they handed out free copies of a CD-r including their proper composition "Ask Yourself." Today the same track opens their full-album Resilience and it sounds more mature with the addition of more detail and depth. A typewriter opens the composition, steering the song right away into a bedding of great playing embraced with a certain commercial feel so it sticks to your mind immediately. Contrary to what you might expect, the Dream Theater influence will not guarantee tons of powerful segments, instead the DT trademark settles within the detailed arrangements sometimes even resulting in a "more with less" attitude. When the band started out writing their own material, each of the songs got the name of an animal. So they would rehearse cats and dogs but later on as the lyrics and arrangements progressed they would settle for the final takes which we can fully enjoy now. Dieter's keyboard solos settle in the middle between Kevin Moore and Jordan Rudess, not in the least because of the use of his very own Kurzweil. Whilst most of our attention might be going towards the singing and the guitar I'd like to point out the wonderful drumming by Hans Mahieu who surely is a very underrated drummer finally getting the recognition he fully deserves.

Whilst you'd expect one technical highlight after the other with this kind of material, the emphasis lies on the entire composition, which is the result of well thought of runs and elements sporadically making way for solo spots but still delivering a whole. Towards the end of "Ask Yourself" there's a great section filled to the rim with breaks and time changes, but in the end Lorenzo's shredding takes us back to where we started, resulting in a fantastic original which, as times evolves, might well turn into a Karma Depth classic. So guys I do hope you like playing this one as you surely will have to in years to come! The band often leaves the arrangements rather open, as you can witness during the opening section for "Hope," which gets the extra help of a cello. I rate an edited version of this track slightly re-arranged and re-produced to become as effective as "Bird Of Paradise" by Snow White, as it's that good! Maybe Hans' voice is a little bit pitched too high in certain places which are exactly the parts where I would re-think the possibilities. "The Price" is a great example of the band's ingenious thoughts as well as their technical skills and sense for arrangement. Here you'll hear harmony vocals, a John Myung type bass solo, furious synth sprints, guitar fireworks as well as fragile flageolets and powerfull well crafted drumming throughout. It's that bundle of complexity and energy which sets Karma Depth aside from all other bands reserving them a glorious future.

With Dieter also following jazz tuition and being involved in the band Panopticum, his spectrum is very wide, enabling him to add tons of interesting ideas to the band's sound. Sometimes though he restricts himself mainly to piano, which then blends ever so well with the guitar and voice. During "The Ring" he kicks off on piano and then switches towards organ, which sadly isn't an authentic B3 or C3 Hammond, as its exclusive roaring sound would have done the song loads of good. I also like and enjoy Lorenzo's bottleneck intro which then switches to great interplay between organ, guitar and drums with the bass silently weaving in the background. During "See How I Glow," Dieter's love for jazz sneaks in with some outstanding piano pieces that nicely contrast with the more prog metal approach of Lorenzo, occasionally backed by double bass drum thundering. The song nicely fuses soft passages with real heavy outbursts resulting in an audio interpretation of the washing of the sea if you like.

Whenever you are able to deliver a 22' long epic without the listener getting bored one tiny nanosecond, then you can certainly be proud of what you delivered. "Heal" is without any doubt a gigantic piece of music, bundling energy, enthusiasm, craftsmanship and skill all into one exclusive mass called Karma Depth. Right at the very beginning there's a section where you hear a distant sound of trombone. Wouldn't it have been nice to get Trent Gardner to play that piece? But then again every single second you hear on this album has been composed, arranged and performed by our four friends, so I fully understand that, except for the cello, they wanted to keep everything in their very own ranks. Sometimes however Hans' voice tends to tackle parts that are a little too high for him to reach. Now an outside producer would search for solutions to make sure he doesn't have to take that route, but here these guys have been playing this material for so long now that they would have a difficult time changing certain parts. I should also stress the fact that this entire Resilience album has been recorded in the band's rehearsal room, masterminded by Hans Berten who not only is the band's singer and bass player, but also runs his very own sound company SolidSound and illustrates with this album that he is a very capable guy. So whenever you're in need of a good PA system, give Hans a call as he is ace at what he does. With Resilience he has produced and engineered an album that sounds as if it has been recorded over a period of six months in an exclusive studio in the Bahamas by a top producer. Full marks and hats off to the lads and Hans for doing such a great job. Whilst all of the lyrics have been penned by Hans Berten, the text for all seven parts of "Heal" were written by Lorenzo Petralia from a very personal experience. The album closes with a fragile piece of acoustic guitar "Nuweiba," as written and performed by Lorenzo and which matches perfectly next to players such as Al Di Meola and John Petrucci.

From a technical and compositonal point of view Resilience probably is one of the most outstanding albums ever to have been recorded by a Belgian band. Knowing the financial and technical restrictions they have delivered an incredible tour de force of which they can be very proud off. I hope from the bottom of my heart that Resilience can and will be used as a trading card to land these guys more gigs both nationally and why not also internationally. A festival such as Progpower most definitely should give a chance to these guys, but also Progday, Baja Prog, CalProg, ProgFarm, ProgSud, Festival Crescendo and every single well respected prog related festival all over the world should at least give these guys a chance as they truly deserve it and also can deliver the goods live exactly like they do on their studio album (and sometimes even better)! Meanwhile order your copy directly from the band at order@karmadepth.org for only 10 euro plus post & packing. The quicker Resilience is sold out, the quicker they can start the recording of their second album. Karma Depth: they've only just started! And me, I'm proud to be Belgian!

Whilst I normally don't give ratings I would nevertheless want to make an exception here and give this album 10/10

Ask Yourself (10:35) / Hope (5:53) / The Price (12:19) / The Ring (15:58) / See How I Glow (12:19) / Heal (22:06) / Nuweiba (2:47)

Hans Berten - bass, vocals
Hans Mahieu - drums
Lorenzo Petralia - guitars, vocals
Dieter Cailliau - keyboards, vocals

Resilience (2005)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin BE

Added: April 19th 2005
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg
Artist website: www.karmadepth.org
Hits: 2427
Language: english


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