Karma To Burn
posted on 5/2011 By:
I'll always have a soft spot for Karma To Burn. As a nineteen-year-old kid, treks from Duluth to Thunder Bay were scored almost exclusively by Almost Heathen. See, at that age, we were willing to take the four-hour trip across the Canadian border solely to troll the bar scene. It seems like a waste of time in hindsight, but hear this: It's definitely best to work out the kinks of your fledgling hook-up technique in a foreign country, far away from the scrutiny of your peers.
But I digress. (Severely.) Truthfully, those numerous Karma To Burn sessions were only partially compelled by the power of their righteous riffage. The band served as a kind of compromise: Their instrumental stoner rock was easily digested by my harsh-vocal-averse companions. (In their eyes / ears, Johan Lindstrand couldn't hold a candle to Marshall Mathers, and, well, who the fuck was I to argue?) Plus, stoner rock is universally regarded as the most accessible of all our subgenres. As such, Karma To Burn was, for lack of a better term, inoffensive.
They rocked, too, make no mistake. Chunky, Sabbathian riffs ruled the day, but there was no doom and gloom to be found. This trio conjured peppy, sunshinin' tunage, and it was saddening when their fairies hung up their boots in '03. Their comeback effort, 2010's Appalachian Incantation, was a pretty nondescript offering, but there was hope for the future. They were just getting their feet wet again, right?
Yes and no. Note for note, V admittedly carries more character than Applalachian. The instrumental riffbuckets--titled with numbers, as is their tired-ass custom--are more engaging on the whole. "50" is burly and smoky, riding big-ass desert riffage into the more lively strains of "48." The best cut is "51," which is skull-driven--with swagger to spare--by drummer Rob Oswald.
Competent as these cuts may be, they all seem entirely...unnecessary. Instrumental metal has grown by leaps and bounds since KTB's heyday. In 2011, their one-trick shtick simply can't compete with the acrobatic sketches offered by Animals as Leaders, Scale the Summit, or Cloudkicker. For sans-vocal assault, there are more options at our disposal, and Karma To Burn's manila vanilla will get lost in the shuffle with ease.
In an attempt to add some spice to their formula, the band pumped out three vocalized tracks, "The Cynic," "Jimmy Dean," and a cover of "Never Say Die." The former tracks are rote, mindnumbing stoner rehashes in the Kyuss / Fu Manchu vein, and the latter, is, well, a fucking cover of "Never Say Die." Again...unnecessary.
Stubbornly, KTB keeps plugging away, but to what end? Appalachian Incantation and V are additions to the band's catalog only in terms of volume. Neither record is essential, and their presence only serves to diminish the nostalgia for their back catalog. Karma To Burn may have emerged from the ice, but the world has passed them by.
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