WINGER – Karma (Frontiers)

Winger_Karma_CoverRedTwenty years in the making, Karma is the follow-up to Winger’s cock rock out-of-nowhere classic self-titled debut. It took a major wrong turn (synthetic second album In The Heart Of The Young), the resulting heaps of MTV abuse (Beavis & Butthead), the grunge era, and a directionless comeback album in 2007 (IV) to get the band back to what they did best. Simple yet ballsy, Karma is one of those records where fans don’t have to dig for adjectives to convince themselves it doesn’t suck. It helps that expectations were nil going in beyond hearing a sappy ballad or two, but no one predicted a stripped down rock-the-metal record. Guitar riffs dominate thanks to Reb Beach not having to fight his way through a cluttered mix, starting things off at a run with ‘Deal With The Devil’ and ‘Stone Cold Killer’ falling somewhere between Winger’s Pull record, and Danko Jones’ highest octane moments. From there things are worked into a groove in the vein of album #1 tunes ‘Time To Surrender’ and ‘Hungry’, frontman Kip Winger singing and producing up a storm on ‘Big World Away’ and ‘Supernova’; the man’s pipes are have always been strong regardless of the material, and it’s doubtful Pro-Tools 2010 has the “whiskey throast rasp” option. Beach, meanwhile, reminds folks of how he saved Dokken from extinction 10 years ago on their Erase The Slate album (see ‘Pull me Under’ and the aforementioned ‘…Killer’), offering up plenty of shred but never flashy to the point of stupidity. It’s worth noting ‘Come A Little Closer’, ‘Supernova’ and ‘Feeding Frenzy’ share hints of In The Heart Of The Young’s annoying synth pulse, thankfully stifled here due to the band having the good sense to keep things raw and bleeding. Admittedly, the energy kinda fades towards the end of the record, but at only 10 songs Karma is an easy listen with return trips for seconds and thirds. Overall, a complete surprise and a worthwhile listen. Best to leave prejudice and visions of a car crash at the door.