Karma to Burn are a band that when they put out an album, it will automatically go in my Top 5 for the year without hearing a single note off of it. Because they’re that good and I’m that confident in each album being a sonic slab of instrumental rock goodness.
So what do these West Virginian boys sound like? Like awesome. Heavy riffs, thunderous drums, and a low end that can peel paint from the walls. In a word: Monolithic.
They first came to my attention in the late ’90’s when they were supposed to be the first post-Kyuss band that John Garcia was involved with. I randomly came across a copy of their debut, Karma To Burn, at Mystery Train in Boston and was entranced after hearing it on one of their listening stations although the guy signing sure didn’t sound like John Garcia. Turns out, it wasn’t. Enter Jay Jarosz. The disc is incredible. There were stoner rock riffs aplenty (“Ma Petite Mort”), cool as fuck instrumentals (“Eight”), and even a Joy Division cover (“Twenty Four Hours”). The band instantly became a favorite of mine.
Cut to 1999 and the release of Wild, Wonderful…Purgatory and you’d be hard-pressed to find a vocalist anywhere. See, the stipulation with signing with Roadrunner for their debut was that they needed to have a vocalist so friend Jarosz was hired. Album number two, they said “Fuck it!” (Got dropped from Roadrunner, too), went completely instrumental and the results are just as killer. Oh yeah, and all the song names are numbers. They number them in the order they write them. Genius!
2001 brought about Almost Heathen which would also be the band’s last release for almost 9 years. Their second all-instrumental, Heathen was just as ferocious as the others but in 2002, Karma To Burn disbanded and I was sad.
The years inbetween were filled with stints in other bands (Nebula, Speedealer, and Year Long Disaster) and some drug issues. But in 2009, guitarist Will Mecum, bassist Rich Mullins, and drummer Rob Oswald reformed for a small tour and live reunion DVD with the promise of new music to follow. And follow it did.
When Appalachian Incantation was released in April of 2010, it was not only a welcome return from one of THE biggest underdogs in rock, but it was also the first time the band had worked with a vocalist since Jarosz on their debut. For “Waiting on the Western World”, the lone song on Appalachian with vocals, K2B looked to Daniel Davies of Year Long DIsaster whom Mullins had previously been a member of during Karma’s self-imposed exile. The vocals bring out something even more fierce from the West Virginians.
In late 2010, there were rumblings that they promised a quick turnaround in regards to a new album and that Davies had officially joined the band. Then they opened for The Sword last winter with Davies in tow and his image had been added to the band’s homepage and the stars were starting to align (Although it looks like Davies will still retain the title of “special guest” and not be a full-fledged member just yet). You know how some bands are like “Oh yeah, we’ll have a new album soon….” and then it’s 2 years later and you’re like “What the fuck?” well, K2B delivered last Friday with not only the release of a new video but also the announcement that V, their fifth full-length, would be available overseas on May 27th, the UK on May 30th, and in our backyards on June 7th.
If “Jimmy Dean” and “47” (Played live during The Sword tour) are any indication (Along with first single “The Cynics”), this one’s going to top their catalog. Stay tuned to this spot for a full V review coming soon.