On Shuffle: Karma to Burn – 43

Songs stumbled upon, songs remembered, songs because why the hell not?

I compare a lot of instrumental stoner/metal bands to Karma to Burn, partly because I’m a lazy hack and partly because when listening to 90% of instrumental guitar bands I’d rather be listening to Karma to Burn. They didn’t start out instrumental – they started out with a singer, lost him somewhere along the way (he’s probably down the back of the sofa) and decided just to carry on. In doing so they accidentally revealed a fact so many bands don’t pick up on – if your singer is mediocre he’s just getting in the way. Why simplify things in the verse and chorus just so some goober can sing nothing lyrics at a boring pitch? It’s usually a let down and the moment where for the vast majority of bands under the ‘stoner rock’ banner that I switch off and go listen to something else.

43 does not have that probem. It’s heavy rock at it’s purest – nothing but a bunch of big, dumb, head banging riffs loosely bolted together in a verse/chorus/middle-8 structure without needing to slow down to incorporate a singer. It’s a firework display without any lulls, just the big rockets bursting in incandescent fury non-stop for 4 minutes. Karma to Burn don’t even bother to name their songs – they’re not going to pretend to have anything to say. And why should they? Do you really need to hear some dude rambling about space or weed or, worst of all, bong-addled politics over your hit of fuzzed up guitars? I’ll answer for you: no, you don’t. Unless the guy doing it has the vocal power of a John Garcia or a Daniel Soren or, even more rare, the wit of Neil Fallon, then they should probably shut up*.

When you boil it down 43 is what it’s all about. The rest is just window dressing. I can’t listen to Karma to Burn for long periods – it’s just too pure a hit. And 43 is probably the purest they’ve got. Use sparingly.

*Honourable exception – Scott Hill of Fu Manchu, who made lazy dumb lyrics and vocals into their own unique art form.