You have to admire the sheer belligerence of Karma To Burn, having jettisoned the singer they effectively had thrust on them in order to secure a record deal for their Roadrunner debut album way back in 1997, they have battled on as the instrumental band they always wanted to be through mainstream indifference, heroin addiction and subsequent hiatus.
It was no small achievement to see them return after years in the wilderness and they are truly a band who fancy a challenge, as rather than taking the easy route of doing something mediocre and accessible it should come as no surprise that their latest release is a live EP essentially consisting of two 25 minute tracks. This (ahem) smacks more of a reward for the faithful as opposed to a new release to bring in new fans.
Recorded at the Sidro Club, Italy, in April of last year this is the sound of K2B doing things the way they like it – on their own damn terms. Unlike the lack of focus that saw them take time out back in 2002, a decade later they are rising towards a pinnacle of their performances, as the stripped down intensity of these tracks captured in the raw with the audience up close and personal is exactly what I imagine this trio envisioned when they got together to create music.
The two tracks on the EP are of course melodies medlies of their obscurely named/numbered tracks and the band kick off by calling on their 2001 ‘Almost Heathen’ album and instrumental versions of their eponymous debut, seamlessly and effortlessly weaving them all together with a sense of panache that let’s the music do all the talking. Anyone familiar with K2B’s recorded output will know that they are a band who are focused on creating music with groove that can express moods and feelings without the need to vocalise.
As such the band; Mercum on guitar, Mullins on bass and Oswald on drums are capable of whipping up a storm that captivates and glides between muscular desert rock and laid back stoner.
This deep rich take on Southern Blues rock is as honest as their blue collar back ground, it takes a fair degree of skill to work a room for fifty minutes without having a frontman to engage them and with the exception of a few enquiries as to whether the audience is having a good time, this EP is a prime example of how skillfully crafted, infectious music can be it’s own reward.
Calling on the rich heritage of Black Sabbath and Kyuss to name but a few, Karma To Burn know how to utilise all the skills they have at their disposal and the interplay between the members seems almost telepathic as they explore the space between notes and grooves to great effect. At times they are intense, heavy, commanding and full force rock, at other times mellow and introspective, almost prog like and split into two similar themed ‘moods’ or tracks, this is a fitting example of how great a band has been bubbling under the surface all this time that the world only seems to be waking up too again.
Whether they continue to release collaborative records with Year Long Disaster or whether they remain an instrumental power trio, there is no doubt the musical landscape is better for their return. If you find their albums hard to grasp, then ‘Live At Sidro’ should help you understand the feel, the vibe and the ethos of this band. If you were already down with that, grab this and a beer, crank it up and wish you were there.
Scribed by: Mark Hunt-Bryden