Don't Talk, Communicate
Karma to Burn, Desert Storm and Diesel King at the London Underworld, 1st September 2012
by: Paul Schwarz
It's funny when a band don't seem to fit their name. If Diesel King have a lot of shirts with just the DK initials on, changing their name to Death Knell and proceeding from there would be a good plan. There are plenty of leaden stomps here and the frontman's train driver's hat, shorts and vest combo and muscular form seem to fit with the engine roaring imagery. But it's when mid-paced walls of riffage come to a halt and stretch out like a tape being slowed down -- unnerving notes and killer tone driving people into a zombie-like sway -- that the band really seem in element, and so a name which evokes the grave rather than a truckstop cafe would seem apt.

Desert Storm come across as something of a joke, lighthearted and fun. Appearing in an outdoor jacket with his hoody poking out from behind, their singer looks like he was pulled off the street, a last minute replacement for someone who walked out. It's all very bouncy and easy going, provoking smiles instead of the grimaces and doom hands that greeted Diesel King. Well received and very together, Desert Storm are a fun party band, nothing more.

At just past nine, Karma to Burn begin. Essentially instrumental -- one of their selling points back when they first emerged in the late '90s -- they have but the occasional shout to punctuate their guitar, bass and drums jamming, a power trio par excellence. It's incredible. Literally. It's just hard to believe -- even with how much of rock and metal is built on but a few notes -- what can be accomplished with repetition and incremental variation, as long as the rhythm is right. Playing "32", "28" and other classics from their numerically monikered catalogue, they get heads shakin' and bodies moving for nearly an hour before coming to a halt. Pausing but a few minutes before coming on for an encore, they are greeted with elation, a welcome final few minutes of sweating. Over the set, they say a few words to the crowd -- in future, it would be awesome if they said nothing and just played. There would be a poetry to this which trumps communicating with your audience through words. Karma to Burn's riffs and rhythms communicate everything that's needed.

(article submitted 1/12/2012)

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