Wild Wonderful Purgatory

Karma To Burn

MIA Records, 1999


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Yeah, I wanna speak to the boss... now. Tell him Christopher Thelen is waiting for him.

What? What's it about? Well, if you must know, it's about this Karma To Burn disc, Wild Wonderful Purgatory. He wants me to write a review of this disc featuring this West Virginia trio, and... well, it's damn near impossible.

For starters, he wants me to write about three guys -- guitarist Will, bassist Rich and drummer Rob -- who use no last names. Then, he wants me to not talk about how unnecessary it was to feature a picture of the band with Rob's nuts hanging out.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

But worst of all, he expects me to write something legible about an album that neither has vocals nor song titles. All the "titles" are merely numbers. How the hell am I supposed to keep track of songs when I don't have any neat reference points?

No, wait, don't interrupt me. I'm on a roll now.

You know what he expects of these reviews. I've sat in that cramped office listening to Wild, Wonderful Purgatory on and off for the last few weeks, and only now do I think I have any type of understanding about this band. Karma To Burn play music that dares to suggest falling under the "stoner rock" category, but more often than not, they show that their music is more intelligent and thought out than other groups that are lumped into that genre.

You've got songs like "Thirty" that really show off some good guitar work by Will, and you have others like "Twenty" that lay down a solid groove that will have you jamming nine ways to Sunday. I mean, it's hard to describe, and it probably wouldn't have worked as well if they had vocals on top of the music, but it's a bit frustrating at times.

What? Why is it frustrating? Well, because as good as some of these performances are, Wild, Wonderful Purgatory can't help but fall into a trap of stagnation after a while. As good as the instrumentals are, it sometimes seems like you can only take so much of it without really wishing for some kind of a break in the pattern. The occasional sample doesn't really help matters much.

You see what I mean? He wants me to write about how Karma To Burn has a lot of potential, as Wild, Wonderful Purgatory suggests, but I question whether they've pigeonholed themselves by the very nature of their musical style.

Anyway, just tell the boss I wanna talk to him. Say what? What's that? I'm the boss? Oh, yeah, I forgot all about that. Never mind - oh, and don't you dare tell anyone I just spent ten minutes debating with the answering machine.

Rating: B-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2000 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of MIA Records, and is used for informational purposes only.