Review : KARMA TO BURN – "Appalachian Incantation"

Karma To BurnAppalachian Incantation
Release: 2010Apr30 (US)
Label: Napalm Records
Rating : 4.5/5

Riffs. Riffs riffs riffs. Oh, and some more riffs. This is the foundation laid by the resurrected West Virginians Karma to Burn, who have found a home playing American-bred metal on a German label. Having released a DVD commemorating their reunion tour just last year, they ride that crest to their fourth full-length album, Appalachian Incantation, produced by Scott Reeder of Kyuss.

After an acrimonious breakup with their vocalist on their eponymous Roadrunner debut back in 1997, Karma to Burn torched both of those bridges. They kindled a deal with Spitfire for their next couple, but stayed all-instrumental. While this has largely been their preference, I think their decision to slowly reintroduce singers is wise.

Lead single “Waiting on the Western World” easily stayed with me stronger and longer than anything else on first listen, helped by the voice of Daniel Davies from Year Long Disaster (son of Dave Davies, from my personal favorite of the British Invasion: The Kinks). But if you can get your hands on a first-pressing of Appalachian Incantation, it includes the bonus Cat Got Our Tongue EP, which features remasters, rerecordings, and the song “Two Times” with none other than John Garcia (Kyuss, Unida, Hermano).

“Twenty-Four” is some seriously grizzled stoner blues that has likely been around for at least the band’s seven-year hiatus, judging by how it compares with the six other fortysomething-named tracks here. I really liked how it methodically picks up the pace as the song progresses. The same goes for the sweet ebb and flow that precedes on “Forty-Five”, the longest song here.

These guys really got everything dialed: the tone, the interplay, the lack of pretense. You can enjoy Karma to Burn on small speakers or huge; as background music or consumed by headphones; with joint, chillum, or straight (no chaser). However you take ’em, they sink to the bone.

A Best of 2010 pick!

FCC OK
Try 1, 2, 5, 8, 9

1. Forty-Four
2. Forty-Two
3. Forty-One
4. Forty-Six
5. Waiting on the Western World (feat. Daniel Davies – Year Long Disaster)
6. Forty-Three
7. Forty-Five
8. Twenty-Four
9. Two Times (feat. John Garcia)

NOTE: “Two Times” was a bonus track on the digital promo I received for review. I have not heard the entire Cat Got Our Tongue EP at the time of this review, but this download is available below.

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