Karma To Burn

Wild Wonderful Purgatory

Karma To Burn - Wild Wonderful Purgatory ©1999 MIA Records
1. Twenty
2. Twenty Eight
3. Thirty
4. Thirty One
5. Twenty Nine
6. Thirty Two
7. Twenty Five
8. Twenty Six
9. One
10. Three
11. Seven
12. Eight

Welcome to West Virginia, home of Richie, Will, and Rob, the three oddballs responsible for this blasphemous piece of southern fried blues metal, dubbed Wild Wonderful Purgatory (a pun on the West Virginia license plate). In all honesty, I expected nothing but the worst when I first played Karma to Burn's instrumental album - that's right, no vocals whatsoever. West Virginia may be renowned (read: notorious) for some things, but make no mistake, it's hardly the heavy metal capital of the world. The campy figures of scantily clad trailer park women and a perverse image of Rob exposing his scrotum don't remarkably help their cause, either.

To my stupefaction, this album kicks! Wild Wonderful Purgatory is entrenched in a bluesy style of metal with strong, catchy grooves, and I mistakenly convinced myself that I was listening to Down's seminal Nola on more than one occasion. One can almost expect to hear Phil Anselmo's characteristic growl immediately after the first pause on track three, which they entitle "Thirty". In the absence of vocal hooks, Karma to Burn rely on the periodic return of the main theme in each of their songs. To elaborate, the first song, "Twenty", consists of an ABABCA' pattern, with other songs varying somewhat. For instance, the next piece, "Twenty Eight", adjoins the transition from B to A with a polyphonic bridge, using separate bass and guitar lines. "Thirty One" is a ballad that begins with variations of a theme before escalating into groove overdrive. As an aside, the beginning of this song elicits in me nostalgic images of John Wayne westerns - not to dissuade you from buying this album. In "Thirty Two" one finds a dastardly, upwardly scaling sequence that then proceeds into "Twenty Five", which features a strange polyphony of lead and rhythm guitars. Why they chose such absurd song titles is beyond my comprehension.

Anyway, the last four songs were previously included in the Wild, Wonderful & Apocalyptic EP and are more expansive and melodic than the first eight, although all the songs have a healthy dosage of melody. Evidently, Karma to Burn do not take themselves very seriously, but they sure know how to cook up a spicy groove. Sleazy, campy, trashy, and damn proud of it, Karma to Burn get my warm n' hearty stamp of approval.

Review by Jeffrey Shyu

Review date: 01/2000

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