Kârma – Illusions

Progressive metal is in a constant uprise after the 00’s. Kârma is a band from Greece who beautifully combine the 70’s rock/hard rock sound with progressive rock/metal. “Illusions” is their 3rd full length.

‘Path Of Light (Prophecy I)’ opens the album in a symphonic/operatic mood. Choir/soprano vocals and orchestral parts work really well with the band’s groovy riffs. The acoustic themes and fragile vocals reveal the band’s sensitive side. Dream Theater, Fates Warning and Marillion are bands they surely adore while Septic Flesh and Opeth watch carefully from the other side of the room. The symphonic parts of the song add a Therion twist.

‘Red Lion’ has a rockier attitude. The riffs are straight this time. However, before the chorus, the progressive view of Kârma appears again. The keyboards give depth to the songwriting and the sound. There is a power metal/progressive air in the end of the song. Mike LePond of Heathen’s Rage, Ross the Boss and Symphony X fame handles the bass duties in this one in a surprise-guest appearance.

‘Ode To Foreign Lands’ begins with chants. This part of the song has something of the Balkan and especially of the Epirus tradition in it. Ktismata Pogoniou Epirus Polyphonic Group and additional clarinet make nice additions to the band’s songwriting. The piano/synth with choir and male vocals gives an epic twist. Kârma enrich their music with different elements and keep it far from the mainstream. It is difficult music, but it definitely worths diving into. Epirus has a great music tradition that, even if you don’t like ethnic/folk music, you need to discover. The marriage of tradition with progressive rock/metal is fantastic.

‘Bullying Scars’ is a beautiful and dangerous trip to the abyss of mind. The heavier side of the band is revealed here, a side which flirts a lot with Metallica of the “Black” album period, but soon changes mood back to the 70’s and Deep Purple with an amazing synth lead. Kârma have a beautiful heavy/prog side.

‘Illusions’ starts with a dramatic dialogue over a fragile, acoustic theme. The song soon changes to something more metal with leading excellent drums. The avant-garde dialogue ends with sensitive vocals over dark and heavy themes. Fates Warning are present.

‘Nation In Chains’ has a modern approach to the band’s sound with additional electronics and a pounding core groove. The bass lead of the song is pure gold and brings in to their work something from the Death “Individual Thought Patters” air, which actually surprised me very pleasantly. The keys work and the coming acoustic lead guitar flirt with jazz and latin! Isn’t that what progressive is all about?

On ‘Sorrowful Dawn’ the power metal influence of Helloween blends with the band’s own style. The result is a great heavy/power metal song. The synth lead is again apocalyptic and the lead guitars carry with them something from the central and northern European power metal tradition. Helpful in this direction is the contribution to the song of Panagiotis Konstantinidis of the mythic Heavy/Power Metal Greek band Crush with his excellent guest vocals (if you are into old Heavy/Power Metal please do yourself a favor and try to find and listen to Crush – “Kingdom Of The Kings” album from 1993. You will be surprised!).

‘The Valkyrie Calls’ is a Therion oriented symphonic metal song mixed with progressive rock/metal. The vocals of Anna Manolaraki are the dominant element here. The riffs support really well the avant garde mood of the song.

Last song of the album is a fantastic symphonic metal version of Metallica’s classic ‘Master Of Puppets’. What a nice choice just few weeks before Metallica’s – “S&M 2” is released! Of course, hardly ever a cover beats the original and especially when it comes to Metallica, but be sure that Kârma did an honest attempt to cover one of the cornerstones, milestones and holy grails of metal! I absolutely enjoyed it and it made me had a good time, pretty much like the whole album which is a very honest and decent release.

4 / 5 STARS 

Reviewer: Manos Michaelides

Sep 4, 2020

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Kârma – Illusions

review Kârma - Illusions

1. Path Of Light (Prophecy I)
2. Red Lion
3. Ode To Foreign Lands
4. Bullying Scars
5. Illusions
6. Nation In Chains
7. Sorrowful Dawn
8. The Valkyrie Calls
9. Master of Puppets (cover Metallica)

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