Winger - Karma
Crank this album up, stand back from your speakers, and prepare for your jaw to drop at the hard, heavy edge that Winger takes on their fifth album, Karma. Sure, it’s easy to mock the bubble gum, pop rock image the band fostered with their first two albums, but the musical talent in Winger could never be dismissed. Clearly now not worried about writing songs for the radio, Winger continues with a heavier sound that really began with their third album, Pull. Most of the songs here are pretty short (three to four minutes long) except for the ballads, which hit the six to seven minute mark that doesn’t fit into a radio-friendly format. Two scorchers, “Deal With The Devil” and “Stone Cold Killer”, immediately set Karma off, and “Stone Cold Killer” has one of the best fist-pounding, neck-snapping choruses I’ve heard in a while. “Big World Away” has a heavy, grinding riff and huge melodic chorus that leads into the dark tones of “Come A Little Closer”. The breakneck pace of “Pull Me Under” picks up the album again and contains a wicked twin guitar solo. The middle of the record slows down a bit for the grand melodies on “Supernova” and “Always Within Me”. “After All These Years” is a blues-tinged ballad that brings to mind early Whitesnake and “Solider Of Fortune” by Deep Purple, but at over six minutes long it seems to drag. A big highlight is the epic ballad-esque song “Witness” at the tail end of the album. This song has a massive, layered chorus and big, lengthy guitar solos that stretch out the last three or four minutes. “First Ending”, a short piano and acoustic guitar instrumental, closes the album on a soft note that feels like a recovery from the rest of the record. Most people would be very surprised at the intensity of Karma if they were willing to listen with an open mind. Let’s face it – many of Winger’s contemporaries such as Dokken, Poison, and Mötley Crüe have released a slew of bad albums that tarnish their legacies. Winger only seems to be getting better, and Karma ranks as one of their best albums to date.
Winger performs Friday, October 8 with legendary Southern rockers Blackfoot at the Medina Entertainment Center in Medina.