Last year The Karma Party unleashed one of the most thrilling confrontational propositions with the Dark Matters EP and now they return with another voraciously captivating and antagonistic incitement in the shape of the Illumination EP. Continuing the ferocious blend of punk, dub, and hardcore infused with plenty more invigorating flavours, which marked out their last release as an essential moment of 2013, the UK quintet has honed their ‘punk-step’ incitement into an even more inventive and evocative adventure. Without losing the snarl and bite of their politically charged lyrical intent, there is a new maturity and exploration within their songwriting and sound as evidenced on the new EP, an evolution which again results in an irresistible stirring up of thoughts and emotions.
Hailing from Blackpool, The Karma Party as mentioned made a potent and imposingly striking introduction with Dark Matters last year, surrounding and following it with a live presence which was as much a lure to the passions of fans as their release. Touring extensively with bands such as Random Hand, Dirty Revolution, and Jaya the Cat, the band in between EPs additionally recruited guitarist James Routh, also the bassist for Sonic Boom Six, into the line-up of vocalist Marc ‘Merc ‘ Walker, guitarist Liam Carroll, bassist Dave Cowley, and drummer Luke Hesketh. Now The Karma Party as expected go for the jugular with their new release, a commanding encounter which sets ears aflame, thoughts provoked, and passions stirred.
Opening track World War instantly proves the band has lost none of its antagonistic prowess musically and lyrically, emerging from distant scenery with electro enticing it erupts into a muscular imposing of jarring rhythms and jagged riffs entwined with sonic grooves. Shards of electronic expulsions litter the growing landscape of the song all the time whilst the vocals of Walker and the band prowl with provocative intent across the brooding drama. It is not as dramatic an entrance as you might surmise but a severely compelling one which soon adds extra seduction through the smooth croon of Walker before unleashing a sinew clad bounce of contagiousness for the chorus. There is an edge of King Prawn to the track once into its full stride as well as the insatiable revelry of Sonic Boom Six which maybe was inevitable with Routh producing the DIY release, but also a rawness which adds an extra lacing of causticity and attitude. The song continues to engage ears with shifting invention and thoughts with its firm yet not preachy lyrical narrative for a thoroughly captivating and potent start to the release.
It is a beginning soon taken to another level with the following Under Surveillance. A track which carries an air of Asian Dub Foundation from around their Punkara album, it opens with a delicious carnival like tease of sound which is soon stomping with contentious resourcefulness and devilry. It is a mesmeric introduction enhanced by the riveting throaty sound of Cowley’s bass. Into its keen punchy stride, the song stalks and inspires the imagination addictively, vocals pushing the honest narrative whilst guitars and keys create a web of infectious mischief and commanding intimidation which like the emerging invention simply ignites the senses. Easily one of the most imaginatively virulent persuasions to come along this year, the track steals the passions with ease.
Democracy offers its own belligerent sound and scathing vocal incitement next, the track as raw as it is adversarial. From a relatively underwhelming start, compared to its predecessors anyway with the production less sharp than elsewhere especially around the vocals, the track brews up a punk bred endeavour which soon takes its own specific slice of the emotions. Riffs and hooks almost taunt with their temptation whilst keys and melodies bring a toxicity which flourishes within the punk challenge and a subsequent dub- step enterprise. It is a strong and rigorously convincing track but one which feels pale against the previous tracks and the next up End of an Empire. With a ska seeded jangle of riffs and pungently probing swipes of rhythms aligned to thought challenging vocals, the track toys with band harmonies and floating melodies from the keys to impressive effect before building a climax which fires up the senses with agitated energy and sonic vivacity.
The EP is closed by its title track, arguably the most boldly inventive song on the encounter. Piano and vocals with reflective expression and melodic balladry open up the track before growing a bloom of energetic pop infused incitement which is as catchy as it is surprising. The track reminds of now demised band Dead Til Friday who themselves crafted a spellbinding melodic seduction of a song which startled from the band’s more expected direction. The Karma Party though is not a band to let the listener settle easily, turning the elegant poise and magnetic suasion of their song into a fury driven rabidity to match the attack of the lyrical side of the track. With metallic riffs and badgering beats crowding ears as forcibly as the vocals, the song is a dramatic treat which until its last breath persists in wrong footing and exciting its recipient.
It is a strong and potential loaded shift in the band’s sound, and one which probably takes a little longer to tightly grip than the songs which raged in first release. But with a striking boldness to their growing invention and that ridiculously captivating flair The Karma Party has for igniting everything from ears to feet, imagination to emotions, Illumination is another excuse to hail its creators as one of the UK’s seriously impressive and exciting bands.
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