by Earthdog

I have always had a soft-spot for Karma To Burn, I have followed them since 1997's self-titled release and was very sad when they temporary split up in 2003. Since reforming they seem to have gone stale to me though, 2010's 'Appalachian Incantation' was an album that wasn't bad at all but it sounded nondescript and contained no real highlights. It is one of those frustrating albums that you rock out to but when its finished you can't remember a single riff or moment on the disc. The band was known for their energetic instrumental jam-fests but the energy has seemed to have taken a walk or at least I don't feel or hear the energy anymore, I feel something has gone limp in their songwriting and performance. Anyway, this new album, simply called 'V' is better than "Appalachian Incantation" and at least has more energy and  more character to the pieces but once again, it is lacking something. The songs largely just sound like rehashes of earlier works and not as good.

Recorded by John Lousteau (who has worked on albums by Motörhead, Foo Fighters and Danko Jones) at Dave Grohl’s Studio 606, this album is their most polished piece of work to date. The sound is crisp and clear but that often doesn't mean its good, I would rather hear killer songs with crappy production than the other way around. A few things bug me with this recording from the get-go though, Rob Oswald'S drums sound digitalized and largely kind of fake. It still provides a solid thump to the rest of the band but something about it sounds synthesized which really takes away some of the organic power that the band truly has but seem to struggling to reproduce these days.

The songs themselves are hardly throwaway but at the same time they are hardly essential Karma To Burn material. As with other albums, the band uses numbers for the titles of their instrumentals, which match the order they wrote them in, along with worded titles on the tracks featuring vocals.

The opening few minutes suggest this is going to be a great album, opening track '47' comes at you with southern-rock drenched guitar and is kind of catchy at least and the following tune '50' is full of great feedback and groovy desert-rock riffage. The third track, '48' is the best offering here in my opinion as it is one of the most energetic tunes the band has ever produced. On the fourth track, 'The Cynic' vocals are introduced and this is when the album falls apart to me. The only other track to have any lasting impact with me is '51' which is a solid stomping instrumental in the finest Karma To Burn tradition but the rest of the album doesn't contain anything above nondescript riff workouts that frankly are not memorable at all. They even finished off the album with a cover of Black Sabbath's 'Never Say Die' (one of the worst sabbath tunes ever in my opinion) and while they give it some decent treatment, it just seems unnecessary as it just sounds tacked on to the album as pure filler.

Fans of the band will get enough of this to want to buy it but for everybody else, it is not essential and its a one or two plays kind-of-album. There is nothing particularly engaging on the album but it does have some great riffage especially in the albums first half but will I ever listen to it again? Probably not......5/10