Karnataka are a progressive rock band, formed in Wales in 1997 by singer Rachel Jones, keyboard player Jonathan Edwards and bassist/guitarist Ian Jones.
With the addition of drummer Gavin Griffiths and guitarist Paul Davies the band recorded their debut album “Karnataka” which was released in 1998 year, and followed it with far superior “The Storm” two years later. The latter album particularly had a celtic tinge to it and both were solid progressive albums with some similarities to the likes of Mostly Autumn.
By the time the third album, “Delicate Flame Of Desire” was recorded and released in 2003 the line-up had expanded to include Anne-Marie Helder on flute and additional vocals. Again a huge leap forward from the previous record, and benefiting from some wonderful harmony vocal work between Rachel and Anne-Marie, the album was their must successful to that point, and gained wider media coverage than before as well as some radio play. However, in the summer of 2004 the band announced their decision to disband.
Rachel went on to join fellow Welsh progressive rock band The Reasoning, whilst Jonathan , Gavin , Paul and Annie-Marie formed a new band, Panic Room. Gavin has also played with Mostly Autumn. Annie-Marie is also currently a member of Mostly Autumn, and has an acoustic side project with Jonathan under then moniker Luna Rossa.
Ian resurrected Karnataka in 2007, teaming up with keyboardist Gonzalo Carrera, drummer Ian Harris, guitarist Enrico Pinna and singer Lisa Fury. The new line-up recorded and released the band’s fourth studio album “The Gathering Light” in 2010.
Moving on and building on “Delicate Flame Of Desire”, this was the group’s most progressive and ambitious album thus far and took their sound into a slightly heavier direction too. However, later that year Gonzalo, Ian Harris and Lisa all departed the band.
Now, in 2015, comes the band’s fifth studio record, “Secrets Of Angels”. With the core line-up of Ian (Jones) and Enrico completed with singer Hayley Griffiths, keyboardist Cagri Tozluoglu and new drummer Jimmy Pallagrosi, the group have delivered undoubtedly the best album of their career to date.
Further developing the heavier aspects of “The Gathering Light”, the likes of “Poison Ivy” echoing aspects of the sound of bands such as Epica and Within Temptation. However, it doesn’t reach the metallic sounds of those bands. Nonetheless, this is excellent up to date sounding stuff.
There are some fantastic memorable melodies here, with tracks such as “Because Of You”, “Forbidden Dreams” and “Feels Like Home” being notable examples, and Hayley’s vocals are strong and crystal clear throughout. In fact, all five members of the band shine on this album which is full of top class performances and compositions.
The record’s final track, “Secrets Of Angels”, is a seven part twenty minute epic. Beginning with some gentle celtic sounding instrumentation before Hayley’s vocals come in, the track ebbs and flows through the various sections beautifully, and despite its length, the track remains as instantly accessible as the rest of the album, which is no mean feat for a progressive rock record.
Drawing on all the great things that the band have done throughout their history, whilst still sounding very much a band relevant to today, “Secrets Of Angels” deserves to move Karnataka up a league or two and bring them much wider recognition than they have enjoyed previously.
This really is an excellent modern sounding progressive record album. Give it a spin, you won’t be disappointed…
1. Road To Cairo / 2. Because Of You / 3. Poison Ivy / 4. Forbidden Dreams / 5. Borderline / 6. Fairytale Lies / 7. Feels Like Home / 8. Secrets Of Angels (I The Temptress / II Crimson Tears / III Last Dawn / IV The Battlefield / V Requiem For Life / VI In The Name Of God / VII Secrets Of Angels)