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'Throw Your Light' is the debut album from British newcomers The Karma Heart. Well, they're newcomers of sorts as I gather the band's existed in one form or another for a few years now and, changing their name from Remedy in 2009, their present moniker will be largely unknown within rock circles. Describing themselves as "a female-fronted Foo Fighters; a more edgier British Paramore", tautological use of the word "more" aside, that's actually a semi-turn-off for me. While I admire Dave Grohl as a musician and his diverse metal tastes which he once exercised within the context of Probot, his main bread and butter, Foo Fighters, have always veered towards mainstream rock genericism, a sell-out from his erstwhile seminal roots with a particular Seattle grunge act. However, it's The Karma Heart up for scrutiny here, not Foo Fighters...or Paramore for that matter, another band with which I have no great affinity in my listening proclivities. But, if you're going to draw comparisons between your own band and others, then big players within the scene is obviously a wise marketing move and potentially garners the attention of as many people as possible considering the huge fan bases of said bands. Fortunately, at least for my ears, The Karma Heart have a musical identity of their own. Particular parallels can certainly be drawn with the likes of Foo Fighters and Paramore, with discernible elements of Incubus (another self-proclaimed influence) also working their way into the compositions but, ultimately, The Karma Heart ooze British rock sincerity on 'Throw Your Light' that immediately eschews any direct comparison with any aforementioned American act. Comprised of just guitar, bass, drums and vocals, each musician utilises their instrument well, most notably guitar which colours the mainly up tempo, tightly executed bass/drums with an array of playing styles and sounds to accentuate the different moods of each track. So full-on distorted grungy chords are interposed with a clean sound and lighter rock crunch at key moments as well as a scattering of appositely placed lead parts. Jenn Cherene's vocals also shine throughout, consistently delivered with a genuine passion, power and raw emotion. Her singing is also interesting in that she's in perfect pitch when hitting all the notes she's aiming for but kind of attains a quasi-dissonance in her intonation between melody lines. I like this as it makes for a far more engaging listen than a standard rock singer and adds ever such a slight punk edge to the overall effect. Sound-wise, the production's good but not great. On the plus side, though, there's a very nice live sound to the whole album (particularly with the drums) so certainly no over-produced Pro Tools polishing has taken place here. The mix is also good but, again, not fantastic. Vocals, at times, sound a little disjointed from the music - that's not to criticise either in their execution, rather they don't sound at one during particular passages. So the mix could have been better but, like I say, it's still good. With all that said, the production does actually give the music a rawer edge which actually works well for the nature of the songs in the sense that the rawness makes emphatic the evident emotions and general passion inherent in the delivery. Overall, I didn't find 'Throw Your Light' an instantly accessible album (another plus point for me) but, over time and a few spins of the disc later, melodies and hooklines started creeping into my head so began to click with The Karma Heart's music a lot more. And an album that's not entirely accessible during the first couple of listens implies a level of originality which, here, materialises in the innovative melodies at work. 'Throw Your Light' is a strong debut from a promising 'new' band that are well worth checking out. I feel, though, that they have far more to offer and, when they hit full stride, The Karma Heart will be a real force to be reckoned with.
Review by Mark Holmes
3rd Oct 2011
1) The Fated
2) Honest Child
3) Gravitate
4) Another Religion
5) The City's A Desert
6) Desire
7) The Remedy
8) Kamikazi Comraderie
9) King Karma
10) Comin' Undone
11) There's Not a Start in the Sky...
"...The Karma Heart ooze British rock sincerity..."