Review Summary: The resurrection of Karma To Burn
When the members of Karma To Burn reconciled and regrouped back in 2009, every fan was stoked for new material. Since the band called it a day shortly after dropping their magnum opus, Almost Heathen
, people expected to be some power left in the engine (or at the very best, a full battery recharge). However, Appalachian Incantation
failed to match the visceral sound of their late 90s-early 00s tunes, while the next affair, V
, was rushed and inconsistent. The two LPs caused some mixed reactions as to whether these guys are still trying to push forward or just rehash the past like many other veteran acts tend to do nowadays. Furthermore, disaster stroke when drummer Rob Oswald and bassist Rich Mullins disappeared from the line-up, thus raising several questions regarding the future too.
Nevertheless, guitar mastermind Will Mecum recruited Evan Devine and Rob Halkett to tour and ultimately record the new album. Oddly enough, then came the unexpected. Arch Stanton
is the resurrection these guys needed in order to feel vital again. With only nine tracks and a total run time of 37 minutes, this is all you need to rebuild your faith in Karma To Burn. Each cut manages to retain the energy and power we were used to hear when listening to these guys. The best examples are the opening track, '57' and '54', who both share a good dose of dirty, pile driving, Southern-inspired boogie grooves. The fat riffs are complemented by several alternating drum patterns and gritty bass lines. The hard stomping, '23' along with the scorching, '55' offer the much needed diversity, with various tempo changes and crunchy rhythms. Luckily, the mood is always shifting and for the first time in over a decade the band manages to constantly churn catchy riffs. Another highlight, the closing track, '59' starts with the famous "Do you know what you are??" excerpt from classic western, The Good, The Bad & The Ugly's finale, only to burst into a trashy lead over a marching snare drum. Several lines from the movie are inserted throughout the tune, when it tones down for the middle segment. It finally picks up towards the end, delivering a blistering coda. The tune is the perfect ending for the album and classifies as one of their most solid in a long time.
In the end, it's hard to say if Mecum needed new members on board to once more deliver a tight record. I'm saying this because after all, Oswald and Mullins helped create their best stuff to date and they are some skilled musicians. Maybe all the touring and rehearsing with the new members led to a newfound creativity, who knows? Either way, Arch Stanton
feels like a new beginning for the band and hopefully this recharge will lead to a new opus. Dig it!