Karma to Burn – Arch Stanton (Faba Records)

Tuesday, 13th January 2015
Rating: 8/10

The undisputed dinosaurs (we say that lovingly) of instrumental metal, West Virgina’s Karma to Burn celebrated their 20th quasi year of existence last year. It hasn’t been without its bumps, naturally, with the most infamous of stories being when Roadrunner Records coaxed the band into having a vocalist for their 1997 self-titled effort, as well as two self-imposed hiatuses. Present day Karma to Burn finds the trio of Evan Devine, William Mecum, and Rob Halkett fully engaged, ready to romp, as it were, as the guiding force in instrumental stoner metal with Arch Stanton, their seventh full-length.

Numbers for song titles, as usual, this time focusing on digits in the fifties. It probably takes a lot of stress out of the songwriting process for the band – naming songs properly can be such a pain, especially when so many good ones are taken, and you don’t have vocals to boot. It doesn’t make much difference with Karma to Burn, as an undeniably heavy guitar tone buffers and bolsters the aggro-but-not-threatening riff action blended on excellent opener “Fifty-Seven,” the old-time band jamming of “Fifty-Nine,” and album’s lone numerical oddball, “Twenty Three.” Essentially, the band gives stoner metal some lift in the riff department, even though one could argue Karma to Burn are well beyond that approach/style at this stage in their career.

Unsung as they are, Karma to Burn deserves a vast amount of credit for holding down the no-vocals fort, as well as remaining viable well into the latter stages of their career. If Arch Stanton proves anything, it’s that the West Virginia trio were right all along, and, the rest of the instrumental metal brigade owes a vast amount of debt to the band who was the first out of the gate.

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