Saturday, January 5, 2008

No Singer, No Problem

Anyone who's  down with the mid to late 90's budding Stoner scene knew about Karma To Burn. In fact, in 1996 Roadrunner Records (who were struggling to find their identity; Post-Max era Sepultura, pre-Nickleback, riding with bad hip hop and dance records), put out a  CD Sampler of some kick ass jams, featuring Fu Manchu, the first official recording of Queens of The Stone Age ("18AD") and a new band called Karma To Burn. 

Roadrunner picked them up for a deal and released their self-titled debut in 1997 to rave reviews and a ton of critical acclaim. A solid record, but by no means a classic. Some great tracks on there, but some real filler as well. Apparently, three-fourths of the band felt the same way and decided the singer was the "filler". They decided this quickly too. Within a month, I was checking them out for the first time live, playing direct support to Corrosion of Conformity (along with Drain sth and local South Florida heroes Gonemad), on the "Wiseblood" Tour. 

I guess Roadrunner decided having a band with no singer wasn't marketable, so they dropped 'em. Spitfire picked them up and Karma To Burn went on to release two unbelievably great LP's, Wild Wonderful Purgatory and Almost Heathen. The riffs are so good, you never miss a singer or even feel that one was ever needed. In fact, when they toured on these records, they played a lot of the older stuff off the Roadrunner release and no vocals were missed there either. Just a bad-ass power trio.

In 2002, rumors were circulating that Karma To Burn was going to record a new record, with a little help from some serious fucking friends. They would provide the rock and a series of vocalists would sing on different tracks. I know that the following had signed up: Neil Fallon (Clutch), Pepper Keenan (COC), Kirk Windstein (Crowbar) and I'm pretty sure John Garcia (Kyuss, Hermano, Slo-Burn) was down as well. Unfortunately they broke up prior to laying tracks down and all we're left with is three records.

Last year, Metal Mind Productions re-released all three CD's in a beautiful box set, complete with demos, bonus tracks and live performances. It's limited to 1,500 copies and since their a German label, it costs a bloodsucking $56 dollars! Their debut is out of print but easily available used and their last two releases are still in print.

I love how Roadrunner thought that instrumental rock was unmarketable. Look at how things have changed in just 10 years. Some of the most important and genre-bending bands out there today either have no singer, or use vocals very infrequently. Just a  few examples: Explosions In The  Sky, God Is An Astronaut, ISIS, Mogwai, Cult of Luna, Pelican...The list can go on forever.

True trailblazers, but in reality, just three dudes who fucking rock.

Balls shake when this is heard: "Thirty Four"


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