audiObelisk Transmission 038

Posted in Podcasts on July 30th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

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Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!

As I’ve tried not to do since I started making podcasts again, I kept away from a consistent theme this time around, but I wanted to at least get a blend of bands you’ve probably heard and bands maybe you haven’t. Of course the new Sleep was a given, and new cuts from Electric Wizard and Karma to Burn felt like they needed to be there as well, so they are. But there are a few corresponding inclusions of stuff I’ve been digging that I haven’t had the chance to write about yet — looking at you, USA out of Vietnam, Lewis and the Strange Magics and Deamon’s Child — and while I’ve no doubt you’re already down with those and the rest of what’s included here because you’re on it like that, putting them in here seemed a good way to feature them for anyone not yet exposed who might be interested in checking them out.

If that’s you, please enjoy. The second hour, as usual, is consumed by longer songs, but there are a few in the first hour as well (that Electric Wizard track is over 10 minutes, and the Sleep is close to it), but of the podcasts I’ve put together in the last few months, this one easily flows the best. It was pretty late as I was putting it together last night, so I had the headphones on and was working totally without distraction. I know it’s an unrealistic expectation to think anyone will be able to listen in that manner, but if you get the chance or if you don’t, I hope you have a good time.

First Hour:
Sleep, “The Clarity” from Adult Swim Singles Series (2014)
Electric Wizard, “I am Nothing” from Time to Die (2014)
Lewis and the Strange Magics, “Cloudy Grey Cube” from Demo (2014)
USA Out of Vietnam, “You are a Comet, You are on Fire” from Crashing Diseases and Incurable Airplanes (2014)
Serpent Venom, “Lord of Life” from Of Things Seen and Unseen (2014)
Deamon’s Child, “Lutscher!” from Deamon’s Child (2014)
Rabbits, “Reek and Ye Shall Find” from Untoward (2014)
Karma to Burn, “Fifty Seven” from Arch Stanton (2014)
The Heavy Co., “One Big Drag” from Uno Dose (2014)

Second Hour:
Wolf Blood, “Dancing on Your Grave” from Wolf Blood (2014)
Frown, “Harpocrates Unborn” from The Greatest Gift to Give (2014)
Merlin, “Lucifer’s Revenge” from Christ Killer (2014)
Causa Sui, “Incipiency Suite” from Pewt’r Sessions 3 (2014)

Total running time: 1:57:27

 

Thank you for listening.

Download audiObelisk Transmission 038

 

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Karma to Burn, Arch Stanton: Shoot, Don’t Talk

Posted in Reviews on July 29th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Art by Alexander von Wieding.

What’s really surprising about Arch Stanton, the new full-length from Karma to Burn, isn’t how the trio goes about its business. Led by West Virginian guitarist Will Mecum, the method is essentially the same as it’s been since 1999′s sophomore outing, Wild Wonderful Purgatory, in that the band cut a straight line, sans frills, to riff-led heavy rock and roll. Tracks are numerically titled, there are no vocals save for a bit of sampling on closer “Fifty Nine” (also as high as the numbers go this time around), and they stick so firmly to their approach that six of the album’s eight tracks are between four and five minutes long, and neither of the other two top six. For anyone who’s listened to them before, the ideas and the barebones feel with which they’re presented will be familiar. What’s really surprising about Arch Stanton is how much Karma to Burn can say without saying anything at all. Not counting a 2012 reworking of their famously vocalized 1997 self-titled debut (their label at the time, Roadrunner, forced them to take a on a singer; it didn’t last), dubbed Slight Reprise, the FABA and Deepdive Records-released Arch Stanton is Karma to Burn‘s sixth album, the follow-up to 2011′s V (review here) and their 2010 return, Appalachian Incantation (review here), as well as a slew of splits, EPs and singles. It is consistent with those two and with the output from Karma to Burn‘s first run on the aforementioned Wild Wonderful Purgatory and 2002′s Almost Heathen, but it’s also their first long-player to feature bassist Rob Halkett and drummer Evan Devine alongside Mecum.

Although it doesn’t manifest sonically in any massive stylistic shift – Mecum seems to be calling the shots either way — his guitar is certainly the defining presence in the band at this point if it wasn’t before, and it probably was — it’s still a big change. Former bassist Rich Mullins and ex-drummer Rob Oswald, aside from being there during the first run prior to their split after Almost Heathen, were a considerable presence in the band’s creative growth. Mullins having taken part in the band Year Long Disaster particularly led to the two groups essentially combining forces for a time, but that’s gone on Arch Stanton as well. Those days, it would seem, are over, and Karma to Burn have returned to the core of what they’re all about, which is Mecum‘s riffs and a straightforward instrumental heavy rock drive. They dip as far back as “Twenty Three” — which by the numbers comes from the Wild Wonderful Purgatory-era — but the rest of Arch Stanton is between “Fifty Three” and “Fifty Nine,” arranged over the album’s 37 minutes to maximize overarching flow over what I imagine breaks cleanly in half to form two vinyl sides, and “Fifty Seven” leads off with Devine‘s drums and winding feedback leading to a classic motoring boogie, thick, groovy and in heavy motion. As ever, Karma to Burn waste no time in reminding their listeners who they are and what they do, even if they’re introducing some new faces in the process. “Fifty Six” has a metallic feel in the initial guitar line, and “Fifty Three” slows the proceedings down for a time, but they cap the first half with a return to the swagger in “Fifty Four” that shows off some airy layering at first before the central riff emerges to mark the nod-ready progression, building efficiently before a somewhat understated payoff rounds out.

Von Wieding again. Dude likes his KTB.

The grooves get larger on “Fifty Five” and “Fifty Eight” on side B, but the mood and overall vibe keep steady, though the fact that the chugging “Twenty Three” seems to have a simpler spirit than what surrounds could be taken as indicative of the creative growth of the band or at very least Mecum‘s songwriting. Karma to Burn have long been haunted by the specter of vocals, partially because of their debut, partially because, in collaborations with John Garcia and Dan Davies, they’ve flirted with the idea, and partially because the songs are so straightforward it seems there’s room for a singer. I don’t know if that feels less true on Arch Stanton because something has changed in Karma to Burn musically or if it’s interpretation based on how otherwise uncompromising the album feels, but it remains the case either way. True to the album’s title which also references the film, some snipped dialog from the closing moments of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly – famous Morricone score included — is worked into “Fifty Nine,” and that seems particularly fitting, though somewhat ironic since that was a European film set in the American west and Karma to Burn are an American band who at this point have found greater success touring in Europe. Nonetheless, they end with a big push, and bring Arch Stanton to a finish sounding refreshed in their purpose and clearheaded about what it is Karma to Burn should be some 20 years on from the band’s founding. Whether or not Mecum‘s bringing in Halkett and Devine will signal a new period of productivity — two live albums, an EP and a split with Sons of Alpha Centauri all being released since the start of 2013 would hint that perhaps it will — it’s hard to say for sure, but if Arch Stanton proves anything, it’s that like their goat mascot on the Alexander von Wieding cover art, they ride tall and destructive through whatever battle may be raging around them.

Karma to Burn, “53″ official video

Karma to Burn on Thee Facebooks

Deepdive Records

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Karma to Burn Reveal Artwork & Tracklisting for Arch Stanton

Posted in Visual Evidence on May 27th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

In looking at his work over the course of their collaboration, you can tell that German artist Alexander von Wieding is a fan of Karma to Burn. Not just because he does such excellent work for them — see his prior covers to their V and Appalachian Incantation full-lengths and splits with Sons of Alpha Centauri, ÖfÖ Am, etc. — but to the creativity he brings to their established goat mascot and the level to which he captures what the instrumental West Virginian outfit is all about. The latest partnership between Karma to Burn and von Wieding is the three-piece’s forthcoming album, Arch Stanton, set to release in August.

The album takes its title from the name on the grave in the Sergio Leone classic, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, where a fortune of gold is buried, and almost certainly, if riffs were treasure then Karma to Burn would be millionaires. Von Wieding‘s cover departs from the spaghetti west in favor of the American Civil War, which occurred before the events imagined in the film, and we see Karma to Burn‘s mascot — who’s well on his way to an Eddie-esque number of interpretations — storming a battle line of Union and Confederate soldiers, the flags of both sides represented. All around is chaos and fire and death, rendered with a frightening and otherworldly glow, and both armies recoil in bloody horror as the cigar-smoking beast devastates with a whip for each side.

Karma to Burn‘s Arch Stanton is out this August through Deepdive Records and FABA Records. More to come about it, I’m sure, but until then, check out the tracklisting, take a listen to the prior single “Fifty Three,” which will appear on the record, and click the image below for a closer look:

Tracklist:

1 Fifty Seven
2 Fifty Six
3 Fifty Three
4 Fifty Four
5 Fifty Five
6 Twenty Three
7 Fifty Eight
8 Fifty Nine

Label is: deepdive records & FABA records

Release 15.8.2014

Karma to Burn, “Fifty Three”

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Video Premiere: Karma to Burn, “53″

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 5th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

When you need an ass kicked and you need it kicked in a hurry, call Karma to Burn. Led by guitarist Will Mecum, the West Virginian outfit has been stomping mudholes with their particular brand of straightforward heavy rock and roll for 20 years now, and as “53″ from their new H42 Records split 7″ with UK rockers Sons of Alpha Centauri shows, there’s no slowing down in their point-A-to-point-B, no frills, no bullshit approach. The instrumentalists have seen no shortage of changes along their way — Mecum is now joined in the band by bassist Rob Halkett and drummer Evan Devine, and Karma to Burn have had bassists, drummers, and even vocalists come and go — but their core ethic remains steady and there’s no getting around the fact that it continues to work.

The video features art by Alexander von Wieding and old war footage, but of course the draw is the song itself. “53″ is a solid refresher of just what it is that has always made Karma to Burn such a righteous outlier. They never quite seem satisfied, never want to rest, and at what I’m sure is a coincidental four minutes and 20 seconds long, the song “53″ hits with an underlying intensity of purpose that’s like listening to grinding teeth. Whatever they do, it’s their unwillingness to compromise their sound and the central riff-led take that has earned them such respect over the last two decades, but no matter how many bands they influence or what acclaim comes their way or passes them by, Karma to Burn keep their heads down, keep working. It’s easy to admire that.

Enjoy “53″ below, followed by some more info on the Sons of Alpha Centauri split vinyl courtesy of H42 Records:

Karma to Burn, “53″ official video

Karma to Burn’s ’53′

’53′ is also part of the new Split 7″ of Sons of Alpha Centauri & Karma to Burn! This is the second 7″ featuring both bands and follows up the immense popularity of the first vinyl and captures the raw energy and driving rock fury of both bands yet again. This release will only be available on vinyl through H42 Records Artwork & Layout: Alexander von Wieding.

First Edition: 500
– 130 on orange-black vinyl
– 130 on white-blue vinyl
– 240 on black vinyl

Karma to Burn’s website

Sons of Alpha Centauri on Thee Facebooks

H42 Records webstore

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Karma to Burn and Sons of Alpha Centauri Release Split 7″

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 24th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Instrumental heavy pioneers Karma to Burn — who draw the straightest line from here to rock that you’ll ever see –teamed up with UK progressive heavy outfit Sons of Alpha Centauri for a split single back in 2009, and I guess it must have been a pretty pleasant experience. They’ve decided to make a sequel.

Containing Karma to Burn‘s “53″ and Sons of Alpha Centauri‘s “71″ (it was “14″ and “65″ last time around), the new split is out on Germany’s H42 Records. Sons of Alpha Centauri, in addition to the prior split with Karma to Burn, also released a split in 2009 with KTB guitarist Will Mecum‘s Treasure Cat trio, so the two units are no strangers, and for Karma to Burn, this marks the latest in a string of non-album releases since 2012′s V that also includes a self-titled 2013 EP, two live records and an instrumental re-recording of their first album, dubbed Slight Reprise.

PR wire details and a video teaser follow:

Karma To Burn/Sons of Alpha Centauri Split 7“ OUT NOW!

H42 Records is very proud to announce the return of two instrumental titans and their ongoing partnership to reinvigorate the hard rock world without words! On 21 April 2014 the ‘Karma to Burn / Sons of Alpha Centauri’ split 7″ enters the stratosphere in the form of a three different coloured vinyls and two brand new tracks ‘Fifty Three’ and ’71′ mastered at Abbey Road Studios!

This is the second 7″ featuring both bands and follows up the immense popularity of the first vinyl and captures the raw energy and driving rock fury of both bands yet again. This release will only be available on vinyl with limited pre-orders available exclusively through H42 Records.

Three different vinyl versions are available as blue/white marbled, orange/black marbled & black heavy release in deluxe design sleeves from ‘Alexander Von Wieding’. The vinyl will also be available on the forthcoming summer European Tour – check back for dates!

This release is only available on vinyl in three different versions:
130 pieces blue/white marbled
130 pieces orange/black marbled
240 pieces black

http://www.h42records.com/h42-005/
http://www.sonsofalphacentauri.co.uk/
https://www.facebook.com/sonsofalphacentauri/
https://www.facebook.com/karma.toburn.3
http://www.k2burn.net/

Karma to Burn/Sons of Alpha Centauri Split 7″ Teaser

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Doom in June III Tickets Now Available

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 2nd, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

The lineup is admirably varied and unflinchingly heavy, and Doom in June III is set to take place June 1, 2013, at the Cheyenne Saloon in Las Vegas, Nevada. Tickets for the day-long get-down are now available via the link embedded below in the info sent down the PR wire:

DOOM IN JUNE III MUSIC FESTIVAL

Saturday, June 1st, 2013
The Cheyenne Saloon in Las Vegas

April 2, 2013 – Las Vegas, NV — The celebrated DOOM IN JUNE MUSIC FESTIVAL returns for the third time on Saturday, June 1st, 2013 with some of the coolest names in Doom, Stoner Rock and Metal. The event provides a full day of immersion into some of the greatest music of the genres, drawing people from around the world to Las Vegas to get down and get rockin’. Prepare for another wicked dose of the heaviest of the heavy.

Remaining true to the original format, Doom In June III kicks off the summer on the first weekend in June. Thirteen bands are confirmed – including many established acts — as well as providing an opportunity for guests to catch some of the brightest young talents. The venue offers a carefree, good time environment which is why bands and guests alike look forward to returning to The Cheyenne Saloon (3103 N. Rancho Blvd.).

Performances include THE SKULL featuring former TROUBLE vocalist Eric Wagner and bass player Ron Holzner offering the best of Trouble; legendary ‘80s cult favorites MANILLA ROAD; instrumental power trio KARMA TO BURN, ANCESTORS, New Mexico’s LAS CRUCES, CASTLE, SNAIL; Monster Magnet guitarist’s Ed Mundell’s new band ULTRA ELECTRIC MEGA GALACTIC; Las Vegas’ female-fronted doom four-piece DEMON LUNG — who will celebrate the event as a record release show for their highly anticipated debut album on Candlelight Records; a couple San Diego area bands DALI’S LLAMA and ALBATROSS OVERDRIVE and two promising locals opening the day – MEGATON and SPIRITUAL SHEPHERD.

Doors are at 1:00 pm and event features thirteen bands performing for twelve hours on one stage. Tickets now on sale at www.brownpapertickets.com for only $16 advance. Rooms are available at The Fiesta Rancho Hotel/Casino which is located very close to the Cheyenne Saloon and offers affordable accommodations.

For more information email salemrosemusic@aol.com or visit Doom In June III on Facebook at www.facebook.com/doominjune. Event sponsors include Fly PR, Heavy Planet, Planet Fuzz, Doom Metal Alliance, All That Is Heavy Shop and Hellride Music.

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Karma to Burn to Release New EP on Heavy Psych Sounds

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 19th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Heavy Psych Sounds is the Italian imprint headed up by Gabriele Fiori of heavy rockers Black Rainbows. Having previously issued material from his own band and tourmates like Naam and Farflung, Fiori now turns his attentions to influential riff-bearers Karma to Burn, who’ll release a snazzy new EP through Heavy Psych Sounds with three unreleased songs and three alternate versions and Alan Forbes artwork.

Looks pretty killer. You can check out Fiori‘s more colorful post about it on the forum or just see the info below and groove for a bit on the trailer for the release. Either way, it’s new Karma to Burn, so you can’t lose:

HELLO PEOPLE !!!
Heavy Psych Sounds records is excited and honoured to announce HPS008
KARMA TO BURN ep
featuring 3 unreleased tracks: “53-54-space tune” and 3 alternative versions of: “41-42-47″
the great artwork is made by ALAN FORBES
HPS 008 is released in 3 different coloured 12″ vinyl

100 ltd splatter yellow
200 ltd orange
200 ltd solid blue

and DIGIPAK

AVAILABLE NOW IN PRE-SALE @ http://WWW.HEAVYPSYCHSOUNDS.COM

Karma to Burn, EP Teaser

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The Debate Rages: 35007 vs. Karma to Burn

Posted in The Debate Rages on April 23rd, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

Okay, so maybe these two bands are stand-ins for bigger ideas, but think about it this way: The central question in looking at defunct Dutch psych proggers 35007 (on my mind following their inclusion in this month’s podcast) and reborn West Virginian riff bashers Karma to Burn is what do you want from an instrumental band? Do you want extensive musical exploration born out of freeform or structurally open jamming, or do you want head-down, driving rock, just without some singer guy blathering on about motorcycles and hey whoa baby yeah?

By way of examples, let’s take 35007‘s 2005 swansong, Phase V, and what was then Karma to Burn‘s second album, 1999′s Wild Wonderful Purgatory, which was the record that established them as an instrumental act following their 1997 self-titled debut. The 35007 made a bed of odd time signatures and underlying experiments in synth, resulting in a varied, eclectic presentation, where Karma to Burn‘s sophomore outing is among the most straightforward stoner rock albums, period. If it was any more stripped down, they wouldn’t be playing.

I’m not necessarily championing either as the best in the band’s catalog (though I’ll argue for Phase V in that regard), but looking to get a discussion going on what you want when you listen to instrumental heavy rock. Karma to Burn and 35007 — both pivotal and highly influential bands who got started around the same time in the early/mid ’90s — stand for very different things musically while still roughly residing in the same genre. So let’s do this:

Is it the expanded creative realm of 35007?

Or the balls-out, bullshit-free classicism of Karma to Burn?

You know the drill by now. These posts are always about having some fun, so wherever you stand, make sure you leave a comment below. I’m looking forward to seeing how this one turns out.

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Truckfighters and Karma to Burn to Tour US in 2012

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 10th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster

While we’re doing super-news day, I read this a couple minutes ago in an update from Ghost Road Touring on Thee Facebooks. Obviously still kind of vague, but even if this is rumor at this point, it’s the kind I’m happy to help spread:

Legendary Viral Fuzz Lords, Truckfighters (Sweden) and Very Special Guests, Instrumental Mountain Rock Pioneers Karma to Burn (US), have announced plans for a full American tour for March 2012.

Please don’t miss this opportunity to see one of the best US club shows of 2012!

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Live Review: Karma to Burn, The Atomic Bitchwax, The Ominous Order of Filthy Mongrels in Jersey, 09.06.11

Posted in Reviews on September 7th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster

I don’t get down that way as often as I used to, but once every year and a half or so, Asbury Park does me just right. Last night was one such occasion. I left the office a bit after 8PM, sloshed my way through the rain Southbound on the world famous Garden State Parkway, down to admirable Asbury mainstay The Saint, where West Virginian instrumental riffers were joined by Jersey‘s own The Atomic Bitchwax and The Ominous Order of Filthy Mongrels, who were about halfway through their set when I forked over my $12 and got in.

Despite having On the Radar-ized them as far back as last April, and despite my fandom of guitarist Mike Schwiegert and vocalist Kevin LeBlanc‘s prior bands (Lord Sterling and A Day of Pigs, respectively), and despite living a mere 90 minutes away, it was my first time catching The Ominous Order of Filthy Mongrels live, and I was glad to have the chance to do so. They’ve got some classic crossover in their sound that they offset with noisy crunch and thick tones, and with their first full-length reportedly in the can, there seems to be much more to look forward to.

The five-piece were something of a standout on the bill for how aggressive they were, but there was no denying the formidable presence they brought to the stage. LeBlanc is a natural frontman who plays to the strength of his screams, and Schwiegert — joined on guitar by Dave Anderson — excellently displays his hardcore roots without giving in to East Coast chest-thumping cliche. The material they played was pummeling, and it looked as though they were having fun finding out just how heavy they can be.

The Atomic Bitchwax, on the other hand, seemed just to be having fun. Not counting the couple minutes I saw at Roadburn, it was the first I’d seen them since the release of their latest album, The Local Fuzz (review here), and while they capped their set with about 20 minutes of that 42-minute instrumental riff-fest, they ran through a handful of other songs first, including “So Come On,” “Shitkicker” and the Core cover, “Kiss the Sun,” which served as a reminder of just how much a part of the Bitchwax guitarist/vocalist Finn Ryan has become since coming on board prior to the release of 3 in 2005.

Rightfully so since he used to be in Core, Ryan took lead vocal on that song as per usual, but bassist/vocalist Chris Kosnik seems to have stepped back on some of the material from 3 and 2009′s TAB4 as well — “Destroyer” from the former comes to mind — though both had smiles on their faces for “Gettin’ Old” from the band’s classic 1999 self-titled debut. The Atomic Bitchwax being rounded out by “Monster Bob” Pantella on drums, Kosnik is the only remaining founding member, but without hesitation, I’ll say their set at The Saint was among the tightest I’ve ever seen them, and I’ve seen them plenty.

Kosnik and Ryan were completely locked in on bass and guitar, their fingers rapidly making their way through the band’s signature winding riffs with speeds approaching Slayer levels at times during “The Local Fuzz.” That album probably took some flack for moving so far away from 4‘s pop-based songwriting modus — it’s easy to see it as a kind of “diarrhea of the riff” — but live, it made more sense, and it seemed almost as though the band were stripping everything down to the essential parts, and answering those who likewise denigrated 4‘s hyper-accessibility by saying, “Well, you want fuzzy riffs, here they are.” And there they were. For about 20 minutes solid.

And I guess if Karma to Burn is going to get a lead in, there probably isn’t one more appropriate than that. The trio’s anti-bullshit stance is long noted, most recently evinced on their second album for Napalm Records, V, but as they ran through a set of their numerically-titled instrumental pieces, it became increasingly clear that something was amiss, particularly with guitarist Will Mecum.

When drummer Rob Oswald (ex-Nebula) came around his kit early on to fix the foot of his bass drum, Mecum cursed audibly and with frustration. I don’t know what the situation is with the band, if he was pissed at Oswald for something or if he stubbed his toe — I refuse to speculate or spread rumors needlessly — but something had him off his game. He played much of the set like some men operate heavy machinery: with his ballcap pulled down over his eyes and his shoulders slumped in contempt.

And though he spent a significant amount of time facing the wall to the side of the stage, leaving Oswald‘s near-flatly-set toms high cymbals and bassist Rich Mullins with the task of acknowledging the audience in a manner not unlike someone trying to explain away a domestic disturbance to the cops the neighbors called, (prior to their going on, Mullins had told me the tour was, “a lot of work”), they sounded really good. It was almost in spite of themselves.

They’re clearly three very different individuals — Mecum with his grit and seemingly endless supply of riffs, Mullins with his gaunt rocker’s looks and stage presence, and Oswald the beardo wizard in back launching into impossible-looking fills — and again, I don’t know what the situation is in the band, but Karma to Burn has become so influential in heavy rock because there’s a special chemistry among the players, and that came through in the songs. They cut the set short, nixing “41″ from 2009′s Appalachian Incantation among others, and obviously it was a bad night for the band, but I didn’t leave The Saint disappointed.

The music was right on and I got to see a new band for the first time, a local staple who were mind-bogglingly tight, and an act who’ve left an indelible mark on their genre. It was a good night, I got to see some good people. For $12 on a rainy Tuesday, you can’t reasonably ask much more than that. It was a bummer that it was a bummer for Karma to Burn, but hopefully they’ll make it up on the rest of the tour, which hits Boston tonight (Sept. 7, with formidable locals Black Thai and Ichabod) and Brooklyn tomorrow, once again with The Atomic Bitchwax on the latter bill as a replacement for the apparently-defunct Black Pyramid.

More pics after the jump. Thanks to The Saint for being so brightly lit.

Read more »

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Karma to Burn, V: Never Say Five

Posted in Reviews on May 25th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster

Among the many routes to take, Karma to Burn has always been one of the most direct lines to the riff. The West Virginian trio’s instrumental approach is among the most bullshit-free in all of heavy rock, and that has remained the case following their reunion in 2009. With the release of Appalachian Incantation last year (review here), guitarist Will Mecum, bassist Rich Mullins and drummer Rob Oswald (ex-Nebula) joined forces with Napalm Records and successfully began to incorporate the vocals of Dan Davies of Year Long Disaster, in which Mullins also plays, essentially merging the two bands into one, pulling double duty on joint tours, etc. Appalachian Incantation marked a successful reunion, and the aptly-titled follow-up, V, which sure enough is Karma to Burn’s fifth album overall, takes on the weighty task of re-beginning a creative development on the part of the band.

It’s not an easy thing to do. One reunion album is hard enough to pull off, but by getting back together and releasing a second full-length, you’re more or less saying that this thing has stuck and you’re rolling with it. You’re no longer a reunion band, you’re just a band. The second return album completely does away with the novelty of the first, and you reopen yourself to judgment based not on the fact that people are glad you’re back together again, but based solely on the merit of the work itself.

I doubt it’s anything Karma to Burn has lost sleep over, and if V is any indication, they’re keener on affecting a decent presentation of their sound than doing anything outlandishly new with it. No question that V is the band’s most produced album to date. Recorded by John Lousteau (who’s previously worked on albums by Motörhead, Foo Fighters and Danko Jones) at Dave Grohl’s Studio 606, the songs are crisp and clear – Mullins’ tone in particular sounds better than it ever has on a Karma to Burn record – but still in possession of some measure of the band’s original grit. There’s enough separation to enjoy Mecum’s guitar and Mullins’ bass in equal measure, and Oswald’s drums may have been replaced digitally, but if they were, it’s not offensively synthesized sounding. His snare is low and deep and serves as excellent punctuation for many of the tracks, including the sort-of-centerpiece, “The Cynic,” which is one of the three songs included on V with Davies on vocals.

Read more »

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audiObelisk Presents: (Even More) Roadburn 2010 Live Audio Streams, from Church of Misery (x2), Altar of Plagues, Ancestors, Monarch!, Karma to Burn, Mouth of the Architect, Suma, Troubled Horse and Witchfynde

Posted in audiObelisk on July 19th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster

Well, it’s official: There’s a whole buttload of audio streams from Roadburn 2010 for you to check out. I thought on this Monday afternoon, posting a few more to get you through whatever it is that has you sitting in front of a computer would probably be the way to go. Hope you enjoy:

Church of Misery live on Roadburn 2010 Main Stage

Church of Misery live at Roadburn Afterburner

Altar of Plagues live at Roadburn 2010

Ancestors live at Roadburn 2010

Monarch! live at Roadburn 2010

Karma to Burn live at Roadburn 2010

Mouth of the Architect live at Roadburn 2010

Suma live at Roadburn 2010

Troubled Horse live at Roadburn 2010

Witchfynde live at Roadburn 2010

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audiObelisk Presents: Live Roadburn 2010 Audio Streams from Bong, Death Row, Karma to Burn, Moss, The Lamp of Thoth, The Machine and Valborg

Posted in audiObelisk on June 10th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster

Today The Obelisk is proud and thrilled to have been given permission to host the next batch of audio streams from the 2010 Roadburn Festival, which took place April 15-18 in Tilburg, Netherlands at the 013 Popcentrum. Please click the links below to listen, and enjoy.

Bong live at Roadburn 2010

Death Row live at Roadburn 2010

Karma to Burn live at Roadburn 2010

Moss live at Roadburn 2010

The Lamp of Thoth live at Roadburn 2010

The Machine live at Roadburn 2010

Valborg live at Roadburn 2010

More streams and info on the Roadburn audio crew available here. Special thanks to Walter and the Roadburn festival.

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Karma to Burn Interview: Rich Mullins Reveals Tours with The Sword and Monster Magnet, Merger with Year Long Disaster, Future Recording with John Garcia and More

Posted in Features on May 13th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster

Instrumental Los Angeles (by way of West Virginia) trio Karma to Burn have just released their first full-length since 2002 in the form of Appalachian Incantation, and are set to kick off their first US tour in support of the record tomorrow night in Brooklyn. For most bands, that would probably qualify as “busy enough,” but Karma to Burn, who officially reunited in Spring 2009 and have since had a bevvy of releases, seem to prefer their collective plate when it’s full.

Drummer Rob Oswald, guitarist Will Mecum and bassist Rich Mullins, in addition to playing as Karma to Burn, will now also be pulling duty as the band Year Long Disaster — of which Mullins was already a member — and in turn, Year Long Disaster vocalist Dan Davies has (sort of) joined Karma to Burn as their first singer since Roadrunner Records pressured them into having vocals on their self-titled album in 1997. Oh, and they’re apparently planning more work with John Garcia (ex-Kyuss, Slo Burn et al), who shows up on the Appalachian Incantation bonus track, “Two Times.” So there’s that as well.

If that seems like a fuck-load of information, and confusing information at that, it is, and rest assured, I don’t have any better grasp than you do, but Mullins, at least as he manages to keep it all straight in the interview conducted this past Monday, seems to have a hold on it, and that’s probably what’s most important. In our relatively short conversation (at least compared to how it usually goes around here), he not only confirmed the above, but revealed that Karma to Burn will likely be touring with The Sword in September, Monster Magnet sometime thereafter and recording a new album before the end of the year. Information abounds.

Please enjoy the interview after the jump, and if it helps, feel free to take notes. I did.

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Karma to Burn: Mountin’ the Mountains

Posted in Reviews on May 10th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster

I always have to marvel at fans of Karma to Burn who can stand at a show and get into an argument about which was a better song, “Eight” or “Twenty Six,” as personally, I’ve never managed to sort out which numbers — since that’s how the West Virginia unit name their instrumental pieces — were which. Maybe I haven’t been paying close enough attention. Maybe I’m an asshole. All these things are possible.

In any case, after doing the reunion thing in 2009 following the release of a boxed set in 2007, two splits, a live album and a live DVD, Karma to Burn have officially begun the cycle anew with their first full-length since 2002’s Almost Heathen, Appalachian Incantation (Napalm Records). The album will no doubt delight those who’ve missed the band’s bullshit-free take on riff rock, balancing its lack of frills on the edge of minimalism without ever crossing over or coming off as pretentious in any way. It’s this balance, which no other instrumental stoner outfit has pulled off as well before or since, that Karma to Burn has been able to maintain on Appalachian Incantation, and their rock is as potent as ever for it.

Interestingly, the core trio of guitarist William Mecum, bassist Rich Mullins and drummer Rob Oswald (now ex-Nebula) chose to split Appalachian Incantation in half by means of a track with vocals, the album single, “Waiting on the Western World,” which boasts a guest appearance from Year Long Disaster’s Dan Davies. Despite the memorable riffs that permeate “41” and opener “44,” “Waiting on the Western World” comes off as an accessible nod that, yes, sometimes Karma to Burn’s methodology can be hard to keep up with. Whether it was the label or the band that put it where it is, it works and serves to give Appalachian Incantation a landmark just where one is needed.

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