Karma To Burn – Appalachian Incantation

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After almost a decade long break K2B blessed this karmic world with another album and as usual it’s a bang! This album has got to be the weirdest of all K2B’s out there, but that is what makes it that special. It demanded more spins than any other album by them but with time came abundant pleasure and the much needed fill. Appalachian Incantation is odd but in an old school and fun way, I don’t know how else to put it. The guitar is the rawest of all K2B music I’ve heard and likewise for the bass. Instrumental stoner metal is K2B’s specialty domain and they do it so naturally that the tracks with vocals seem out of place. But that doesn’t take away from the rest of the music which is absolutely incredible.

It was a daring move for K2B to defy the record labels and go with instrumental stoner despite of all the opposition they faced to pursue that style. Appalachian Incantation is stoner metal at its very best. There are a lot of riffs and jams to keep most people occupied, but it does take time to grow on you. There are the usual K2B spaced out passages accounting for tempo changes and the pace is always kept varied throughout the music which adds to its appeal.

Metal is abundant here and the heavy distorted guitars and bass are what drive the music forward. Jamming is essential to K2B’s music and it’s erratic when or where it begins which keeps you guessing and drives you back and forth, high and low like on a rollercoaster. Forty-Five and Twenty-Four are the last songs on AI, arguably the most metal on it and some of my favorites from the album.

Appalachian Incantation is an adrenaline-pumping, headbang-inducing trippy piece of metal which every stoner music fan should check out as a necessity of the style. I would say it is one of my top 3 albums by the band, and I can’t recommend it enough.

Verdict: Highly recommended stoner metal gem.

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Dream Theater – Images And Words

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It’s only on occasion that I find music I treasure for years and even rare are those masterpieces I just can’t let go of. Images And Words is one such masterpiece from a band made of masters still going strong after more than 25 years of existence. This album has got everything from heavy electric guitars to intense double bass drumming and even so, the keyboards shine through without any hindrance. Listeners familiar with their music would agree that whether it’s the guitar or the bass or the drums that you’re fond of, you’re always in for a treat when you put on a Dream Theater record. Images And Words is the biggest justification of that fact even though it’s the band’s only second album with all the magicians gathered in full force producing music that’s hard to rival and just downright amazing. There is no instrumental prowess or technicality on display here just for the heck of it but beware, there’s a lot of it that a casual listener would probably overdose on the sheer awesomeness and jawdropping-ability of the individual performances.

Everything gels perfectly here and all the virtuosos complement each other’s output very well and with great consistency. James Labrie’s vocals are an absolute delight and the lyrics just speak volumes of the philosophical mindset the band intends to communicate to its listeners. John Petrucci’s guitars are heavy and packed with punch very reminiscent of that 90s sound that many including me simply adore. His riffs and solos are as metal as it can get and carry the music forward with utmost diligence. Mike Portnoy has got to be one of the brightest highlights here, likewise on every other Dream Theater album he has handled the drumming duties for. Technicality is typical of Dream Theater’s music and the drumming has got a lot to do with that, as with all odd-signature music, and it’s carried out very organically and with a lot of flair. The sharpness and strength of the snare and the Rush-like toms are absolutely delicious and fit the overall aesthetics of the music perfectly. The fact that the drums bring Neil Peart to mind is just an added bonus and personally a cherished reminder. John Myung is great with the bass packing a cumulative punch to the guitar output throughout the album with expert precision. The keyboards are critical too and craft some of the classic DT tunes and passages that many are fond of.

Images And Words inspires you at some point, encourages you at others and boldly challenges you at many. It’s a lengthy and captivating journey into several perspectives of life, but always makes sure of comforting the listener with its tirelessness. It is filled with emotional breakdowns and raging surges, but never seems dragged or pulled beyond repair. Perhaps Dream Theater don’t know the word ‘monotonous’, something I forget about too, besides other undesirable things, while listening to them. The sure thing about this album is that, it is loaded with good stuff!

Images And Words is a milestone in metal and needs to be heard by everybody interested in music created for the sake of art with great dedication and vision. You just can’t miss it and would be doing yourself good if you don’t. There’s a lot of diversity here and most people will find boatloads of stuff that suits them, something that can’t be said for much else and is a mountain of an achievement.

Verdict: Highly recommended masterpiece!