Review Summary: “We’re all ready for tonight how ‘bout you shithead?”
If you’re unfamiliar with the style that Karma To Burn exhibit then think Kyuss all instrumental . There psychedelic and ever-growing music is what keeps their fans listening (Kyuss). All of Karma To Burn’s tracks will feels like a rendition of Kyuss at first. Some may say that would get tedious, but most of their tracks seem to evolve on each other. The West Virginians only lasted a brief period of 5 years. Their first album was self-titled and was distributed by Roadrunner Records. The odd thing about this deal was they were forced to find a vocalist. They did and eventually garnered some good acclaim. The sales weren’t substantial enough for them to go on with their forced format. Instead they opted for their original natural all-instrumental form.
Karma To Burn’s 2nd offering in their short lifespan opens up with a woman speaking one line, then we’re off to the races. The “20” enjoys recycling the guitar riff that builds up and up with the drums pummeling through and through. Karma To Burn’s main driving force in the album is by far the guitar. A quick and sludgy guitar offering doesn’t change often; frankly it doesn’t really need to. The drums really don’t keep the pace; instead follow the guitar throughout all the tracks.
The main variant (as little as you seem to notice on some tracks) is definitely the guitar. It may not awe you or impress you, but the fact it doesn’t get tiring is quite an accomplishment. Karma To Burn keep the pace up with the guitar driving the intensity in every track. The only time we essentially are in neutral is in the beginning of these songs. Track 4 or “31” is the by far the best track while we delve through the album. The vacant and exceptionally "less guitar" beginning only empowers the song towards the latter half when it explodes; giving us a sense of refreshment.
Each individual track shares a few constant variables – the guitar is always sludgy (when clean it is only for the few beginning moments which is frankly rarely), the drums keep along the pace of the guitar and add towards the intensity, and lastly when given the appropriate space in the track a variation of the drums keeps the listener a bit livelier. More on the third point, the drums themselves don’t really change dramatically track by track, but once they’re giving the opportunity they truly drive it with ferocity that can match the guitar.
The guitar work can’t be really said enough about. As much as you feel the repetition will drag the album down it only to lift it up once the track evolves when you want it to. Each track suffers from a constant repetitive guitar as stated just now, except the drums give it a bit of variety. Thus, this somewhat distracts us from the illusion of repetition. Don’t get me wrong, I understand full and well only so much can be recycled, but maybe just maybe the fact we feel that the guitar is recycled is because it is so consistent through every track.
The main problem that evolves from this album is by far the number of tracks. I love stoner rock as much as the next guy, but without a vast variation in between most of these tracks I can’t stress how tired you will become once you hit the 10th track. The guitar loves to keep the spotlight – as it should, but their strongest asset seems to be the biggest problem. The guitar feels way to repetitive and once you near the end of the album it feels as if you’ve heard all before. The closing tracks do try to change it up a bit, by adding bass and guitar variations, but it doesn’t seem to mend what has already been broken by the end of the album.
The closing track entitled "8" adds the best aspects of this entire album. Its a dynamite closer; each guitar riff and build ups that are echoed in the background seem to only empower it second by second. The drums lower the intensity to a point you only want it to erupt even further and it does with all my great glee.
It’s too bad Karma To Burn never reached the sales they were projected towards when they were critically accepted by the media. Their second effort was a fine definition of a desert rockin’ good time. I have yet to comprehend how they managed to involve a vocalist in their debut considering this album plays well without any vocals (besides a few odd samples). Karma To Burn don’t offer anything new to the table in a somewhat desolate genre, but they do offer some solid work. If you enjoyed Kyuss in any form or Fu Manchu for that matter you should definitely get yourself acquainted with Karma To Burn.