WORDS: Laura McCarthy
KAROSS’ second album Two, (in case the title wasn’t obvious), released in 2013, has been re-released, and for those looking for something groovy with lots of hard and heavy moments, this is something to look at.
Burn Witch Burn arrives with cool, slick vocals accompanied by mellowed playing and slowed beats. It’s a dark and moody start to the album, setting the tone as a record filled with bassy tones and collected ideas. It incorporates the styles of stoner and doom, but adds a more hard rock, classic metal the likes of SABBATH.
Easing into Borderline, the sentiments of CROWBAR and DOWN feel very much at home. It’s classically eased back, groovy without giving in to self-indulgence. Magnus Knutas’ vocal style, deep and gravely with bags of projection adds something to the low tones of the music that other vocal styles would ultimately clash with.
As the style dictates, this is not profusely complex playing, but the grooves and feel out of these simple drum patterns and chord movements is there in spades. The beginnings and endings of each track are both gruesome and fun, leading into big, bold sounds. The Lake, The Beach starts to suffer a little from being slightly monotonous in its repetition, and while the vocals are strong and lyrically powerful, this track doesn’t require its length and could be more succinct. However, in the case of the Evil, the tone of Kalle Sjostrand’s guitar is spot on, evoking the same chilled out vibes as QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE with an undertone of swish malevolence.
TWO is an album that boasts subtlety and underplaying, with licks and hints at something bigger and more intricate. The title track is probably the best example of this. Deep basslines and drums that sizzle in the background Patrik Olsson and Mojje Anderson respectively, give way for roaring guitar riffs and solos from Sjostrand.
I Call the Shots is yet another track that plays with noodly little riffs over chugging strings, and while this is very much in keeping with the tone of the album, it feels a little too similar to what came before to stand out very much. All Cream Is Gone is a little more diverse, stepping up the tempo a little and pulling in vocals that mix the likes of Lemmy into the fold. While not a stand out for that reason alone, there are some very fun elements in the drumming and guitar playing there that make for decent listening and most likely good performance value. The wise decision to keep this track shorted definitely works here.
Interestingly Hyde brings in some more experimental musical tones in the intro before moving for the old trick of looping a riff a little too often. This feels a little lazy, but then this is a lazy feeling album in the best kind of way. Toned down, soulful and simple, that is what is required, and that is what is given.
The penultimate track, Fawn marches at the listener with intent and heavy flow. This feels more like old school Heavy Metal with inclinations towards stoner rather than the other way around. This is the kind of track that might have been speckled a little more throughout this album, but its rarity makes it more standout in any case. Finally, we come to Dirty Beer (If nothing else this band knows how to come up with song names). A climax of slow guitar bends, mellow vocals and easy melodies, this is a decent track to end things on. Big, beefy and kicked back.
It’s clear why KAROSS have re-released this album. With some tunes on here that appeal to both those within many different sub-genres, there’s something for anyone looking for a good time and something simple and heavy.
TWO is out now via Skulls and Flames Recordings/ Cramada