No words necessary

Instrumental metalheads Karma to Burn return to RockStar

By Gary Spencer

Photo: All-instrumental metal trio Karma to Burn will perform July 24 at RockStar Pro Arena; photo: Karma to Burn

As much as things change, some things never go out of style. Like a solid, catchy, heavy guitar riff. Or a thundering bass line. Or powerful, driving drums. In other words, a lot like West Virginia instrumental metal trio Karma to Burn.

And Karma to Burn’s style sounds just as fresh and dominating in 2015 as it did when the band was first put together in 1993. Despite a revolving door of band members, Karma to Burn’s guitarist and founding member William Mecum keeps a lackadaisical attitude about the band’s beginnings to where they are now.

“How does anything get started?” Mecum asks rhetorically, “We just wanted to do it. I started the band with a clear idea of what we were going to be. [And] we got to where we are today with lots of Jagermeister, roofies and slight prison sex.”

Well, the band’s history is a little more complex than that. In the mid-1990s, Karma to Burn started in earnest, touring the independent U.S. music circuit (including a stop in Dayton, Ohio in 1995) and trying to make a name for the band with the hard hitting, no-B.S. live performances.

The trio with absolutely no vocals in their repertoire eventually landed a contract with high-powered metal/rock label Roadrunner Records, but the company pressured the band to get a vocalist. After a brief trial run with Kyuss vocalist John Garcia, they settled on band friend Jay Jarosz to take over vocal duties and went into the studio to record their self-titled debut, which was released in 1997. When the album failed to ignite the charts, the band fired the vocalist and set about pursuing their original vision of the band—a heavy-as-lead power trio with monstrous riffs of muscle and no vocals needed, just the way Mecum always intended.

After releasing a few more records for Roadrunner and other subsequent labels, Karma to Burn disbanded in 2002, despite continued critical acclaim and winning over fans in the U.S. and abroad. However, in 2009 Mecum reunited Karma to Burn, relocated to Los Angeles, and released a couple more hard rocking albums for the public’s enjoyment on Napalm Records, which exhibited a slightly more experimental approach to their music and left fans itching for a return to the more aggressive, in your face, mammoth rock of their earliest releases. Enter the release of their newest full-length opus, Arch Stanton, which was unleashed via European imprint Faba Records in early 2015. All the high-octane energy, crushing percussion and savage riff wizardry fans of the band’s work from the 1990s will instantly respond to with air guitars and hair shaking. Fans of bands such as Kyuss, Truckfighters and even Queens of the Stone Age should identify completely with this newest disc.

“It sounds like Joan of Arc in a fifteenth-century porno,” Mecum jokes. “[We are] very proud of it and the work Evan [Devine, drummer] and I did in Switzerland to finish that crazy record. It was something the band needed to do to get out of a serious rut.”

2015 has been a busy year for Karma to Burn. Earlier this year, the trio now comprised of Mecum on guitar, Evan Devine on drums and Eric Clutter on bass, completed a full scale U.S. tour in support of the new record and are now doing a handful of stateside gigs in preparation for a European tour with The Darkness and The Melvins, including a return to the Gem City this coming Friday at RockStar Pro Arena after a 20-year absence. So what does K2B have in store for its Dayton audience? More of what it gave them the last time the band played here—a high energy live show where the sweat is sure to fly and the riffs are sure to bust eardrums. And no vocals.

“Playing instrumental songs to audiences that want to hear them,” Mecum says. “Like Gwar, just without the costumes, and better music.”

Beyond the relentless tour schedule, the band plans to return to Switzerland to record a brand new EP later this year and to keep on keepin’ on doing what they’ve been doing so well for the past two decades and beyond.

“How long do we plan to keep doing this? Well, ’til death do us part, or until an unfortunate bus accident in Holland,” Mecum says.

Oh, and since Karma to Burn’s show this Friday takes place in a pro wrestling hall, Mecum has one final message for any would-be attendees.

“Hire a babysitter, wear a Mexican wrestling mask and show up,” Mecum says. “We’ll take you all on.”

Karma to Burn will perform Friday, July 24 at RockStar Pro Arena, 1106 E. Third St. Crosley Court, Architects of Doom and Back Stabbath are also on the bill. Tickets are $8 in advance and the show is all ages. Doors open at 7 p.m. For more information please visit k2burn.net.

 

Reach DCP freelance writer Gary Spencer at GarySpencer@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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Gary Spencer is a graduate of Miami University and works in the performing arts, and believes that music is the best. Contact him at GarySpencer@DaytonCityPaper.com

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