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Monday, June 6, 2016

Album Review: Karma To Burn – Mountain Czar

Since time immemorial man has been hitting big things with smaller things to make noise for pleasure. For twenty of those years Karma To Burn have been doing the same thing. Today, they are still rattling out their special brand of euphoric instrumentals preset with thick grooves and deliberately obtuse track-titles. They may have a new bassist but the rule of thumb for this American trio still seems to be if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Averse to the idea of being labelled as either stoners or desert-dwellers, despite navigating the good ship Karma along similar currents, they do seem to have settled upon a descriptor and so shall hereforth be labelled in my collection as Mountain Rock.

Diving straight into this EP, it seems the badge certainly fits. Vast grooves roll off the conveyor belt like avalanches. Opener “Sixty-Two” digs out a thunderous underscore of heaving drums and bucking guitars. It riffs off that with little bending chord structures and diving arpeggios. Following up, “Sixty-One” sports a similar rolling rhythm but with a feistier edge and with a battle metal twist. It’s like something The Sword might dig out, only with the heaviosity ramped up to 11.

Elsewhere, the star of the show “Sixty” simply grips it and rips it. An addictive opening riff which is pre-loaded with a subtle minor that instantly shifts up the neck and will prove an irresistible force – there simply won’t be a single static soul on their forthcoming European tour when they dig this one out. That’s an absolute guarantee. As a counterpoint, “Sixty-Three” has a great opening spoken rip from “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” but from there it’s all pretty docile as they rotate around a gently-paced swinging surf rock pattern.

Sadly, they also pick this one to rip up their rulebook by choosing to butcher a classic in a misguided attempt at blowing minds. “Uccidendo Un Segno” is the culprit (a cover of Tom Petty’s “Running Down A Dream”) introducing Stefanie Savy, an Italian vocalist singing in her native language. A solo by Sons Of Morpheus guitarist Manuel Bissing completes the surprise. It sticks out like a sore thumb, blasting away mindlessly and breaking the classy buzz that the first three tracks built up in a heartbeat. Petty’s is a work of genius and I hate having to refer to that song in anything other than glowing terms – but what the hell were they thinking of? It’s a germ of an idea that needed to be left in the jam room or worked upon to create more of the original’s simple nous and foot on/foot off cadence.

Still, you can’t win ’em all and with whited-out retro rock so heavily back in favour, they may not be hitting the bullseye every time but they are certainly bang on point with this.



Also online @ Ave Noctum = http://www.avenoctum.com/2016/03/karma-to-burn-mountain-czar-rodeostar/
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