Karma To Burn

Mountain Czar EP

Written by: AP on 23/03/2016 14:14:42

In thinking how to capture the essence of Karma to Burn’s latest EP, I fell over a fun fact in one of its reviews. That if the title had not already been claimed by The Wildhearts in 2002, Karma to Burn might have thought to christen their newest creation “Riff After Riff After Motherfucking Riff”. Failing at that however, the trio settled on “Mountain Czar” in order to cement that, since none of them smoke marijuana nor come from a desert, the terms stoner rock and desert rock often used to pigeonhole the band are inaccurate descriptors for them. Rather, given they reside in West Virginia, also known as ‘The Mountain State’, Karma to Burn would prefer to be labeled mountain rock and, it seems, be considered the presiding entity in this newly declared niche.

In honesty though, “Mountain Czar” does nothing to distinguish the ‘genre’ as musically unique. The EP has the semblance of having been thrown together just to rationalise the band’s touring plans, and as a result, it suffers from a lack of purpose making it sound distinctly average. A largely instrumental act as Karma to Burn is, the songs are built around the riffs and grooves of guitarist William Mecum and bassist Eric von Clutter, yet unlike the EP’s predecessors, the jams sound more mechanical, as though the trio (completed by drummer Evan Devine) had locked themselves into a rehearsal space and approved the first chops that happened to break from their instruments for use in the recording. It feels hasty, and the only reason “Mountain Czar” is not a total flop is that, given the three musicians’ vast experience, that first thing tends to quite passable. The riffs are as good as they are plentiful, but never extraordinary.

To highlight the outing’s inconsequence, its only real standout moment comes with “Uccidendo un Sogno” (Italian for “Killing a Dream”) — a re-imagining of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers’ “Runnin’ Down a Dream”, which features singing by Stefanie Savy in her native tongue and a cameo by Sons of Morpheus guitarist Manuel Bissing for a solo at the end. The track sucks fresh swagger from the heavy distortion and raw tone bestowed upon it by Karma to Burn and the guests, and is, for me, the only pick worth returning for on “Mountain Czar”. The following and final “Sixty-Three” is decent too, deftly laced with a reverb-laden Western peppering (including the scene from Sergio Leone’s legendary film “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”, where protagonist Tuco kills the One Armed Man from his bubble bath and delivers the famous one-liner: ”When you have to shoot, shoot. Don’t talk.”), but it could have benefitted from more focus on the Western influence, and perhaps even an inspired wah-wah solo.

This is a general issue with “Mountain Czar”, the fact that almost none of the ideas are brought to full fruition. The songs seem to go nowhere and rarely offer anchors to which the listener’s attention can be fastened, and as such, “Mountain Czar” is likely to be remembered (or forgotten?) as one of the more ineffectual additions to Karma to Burn’s otherwise commendable repertoire.

4

Download: Sixty-Two, Uccidendo un Sogno
For the fans of: Dozer, Hermano, Kyuss, Unida
Listen: Facebook

Release date 26.02.2016
SPV

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