Review: The Karma Effect – ‘Promised Land’

With the Aerosmith story spluttering to an uncertain conclusion clouded by whether or not the final, final live dates will go ahead, the long-suffering Aerosmith Blue Army needs an alternative outfit to hang their scarved microphone stand on. In the US, Dirty Honey are in pole position to steal the crown once the postponed ‘Peace Out’ tour officially ends in late February 2025 – God willing Steven Tyler makes it that far – however, coming up on the rails are the newest Earache Records signings, The Karma Effect.

While Dirty Honey’s vocalist Marc LaBelle needs to reign in the Tyler-isms that are in danger of making him tread too close to tribute act territory (the stance, the vocalisations, the mannerisms – all vintage Demon of Screamin’), The Karma Effect (save for a few short trademark Tyler vocalisations from vocalist/guitarist Henry Gottelier) tend to spark comparisons with Aerosmith from a musical point of view; in particular the period of Aerosmith’s second coming from 1987 – 1993 AKA the multi-platinum years.

A major part of this musical comparison is not only down to the twin guitars from Gottelier and Robbie Blake who nail that Perry-Whitford sweet spot with ease, but also the keyboard sound from Seb Emmins is crucial in conjuring up the spirit of MTV-Alicia Silverstone-era Aerosmith.

Opening track ‘Livin’ It Up’ has a gorgeous mix of light guitar tones and fuzzy riffs over the opening moments and there is plenty of Gibson Les Paul swagger from Gottelier and Blake. This is nothing compared to the strut that the pair conjure up on ‘See You Again’ – an uptempo number that could have been an outtake from Aerosmith’s ‘Permanent Vacation’; add some horns and you are just about there. Great vocal hooks from Gottelier who never sounds like he is overreaching to hit those notes, and kudos to the engine room team of bassist Liam Quinn and Ash Powell on drums for the funky little jams peppered throughout.

‘Wild Honey’ might have been birthed in London but the dirty deed was done in Boston. The backing vocals are on point and if late 80s and early 90s glossy American rock is your bag, then The Karma Effect have you covered. With a title like ‘Still Falling For You’, this would always be a ballad. More AOR/stadium rock in its execution, it wouldn’t look out of place alongside Journey and Foreigner on a power ballad compilation – from an Aerosmith point of view; shades of ‘What It Takes’ here and there, while ‘Be My Salvation’ ticks the same boxes as ‘Angel’.

The title track starts like it is going in one direction (southern rock) only to spread its wings into an infectious slice of commercial guitar-fuelled American rock, great stuff. ‘Nine Times’ is the dark horse on the album, one of the fastest tracks on the album, it has a lot going on – including uptempo guitars, a steady, killer drum sound, and some deliciously catchy hooks. A few more listens and this one just might pip the title track in the race to be the standout track.

With the standard version of ‘Promised Land’ coming in at 10 tracks in length, the sophomore album from the London-based outfit is refreshingly fat-free (there is a deluxe edition with 5 extra tracks available from Earache, HERE) and packs a great deal into its 40-minute running time. Confident, guitar-heavy, and hook-laden, it ticks a lot of boxes.

‘Promised Land’ is available now via Earache Records at earache.com/thekarmaeffect on coloured vinyl, CD, cassette and digital.

Connect with The Karma Effect HERE

Review – Dave

Photo credit – Dean Chalkley

 

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