Twenty years ago Winger, lead by lead vocalist and bassist Kip Winger, barely registered on my hard rock radar. They arrived on the scene in 1989 when glam rock and metal was suffering a cardiac arrest. They were just another band with big hair and a glitzy image. There was nothing new under the sun and besides, GnR was kicking more ass and taking names (and basically putting the pussy spandex crowd in their place). Winger scored a few hits and had two more albums in the early 1990's, but eventually succumbed to the fickle and every changing winds of music trends. They remained on life support thanks only to the love of loyal fans. Winger brought us IV back in 2006, but I never picked it up. Ultimately, I thought Winger's best contribution was introducing us to Reb Beach, a surprisingly good and underrated guitar player.
So here we are 20 years later and Kip Winger, with Beach in tow, resurrects his namesake band for another go on Karma. The best part of this well-developed disc is that it proves that Winger can write some crackin' good hard rock songs. Deal With the Devil and Stone Cold Killer, for instance, show that Kip and company still have the fire in their belly. Generally, Karma is probably equal parts their debut and the later Pull as hooks and strong melodies combine with a heavier tone to create edgier songs. I liked the feel of this substantial groove throughout.
Supernova, After All These Years, and Witness seemed overly long numbers but the latter two are proof of Beach's exceptional fret skills. After All These Years also finds Winger (both Kip and band) delivering some gut-wrenching blues with true inspiration. Conclusion: Karma is a fine work from Winger, and makes me a true believer in this oft overlooked American rock band.
Karma is a fine work from Winger, and makes me a true believer in this oft overlooked American rock band. Quite recommended!
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