Review: “A World of Our Own” by Kharma

“The overall theme of this record sort of stems from the title track. In every song I dive into a lot of issues whether it be personal or issues with the world at large. The title track is a love letter to Chicago Hardcore but more broadly to hardcore itself. The ‘real world’ is full of so much pain and hate that we can’t control but within the hardcore community we can. We can use this outlet to improve ourselves, each other, and eventually the world around us. So that’s where ‘A World Of Our Own’ came from. The idea that hardcore is a little world that we can escape to while building ourselves up to live in a world where we can thrive even through the struggles of everyday real life.” ~ Jordan Moten, vocals

The age old question of how to follow up a critically acclaimed record is one that Chicago Hardcore crew Kharma had to confront when they entered The Animal Farm studio with Jon Markson (Regulate, Jivebomb) having beaten the s*** out of their instruments on stages beside bands like Knocked Loose and Terror in support of 2020 EP “Most Dangerous Game. The band opted for the road less travelled, this time around getting personal with lyrical narratives ranging from finding community to experiencing oppression and coping with everyday emotions, giving birth to “A World Of Our Own“, the promise of sonic intensity and lethal execution in Metallic Hardcore…

Somewhere between Madball and Biohazard is where Kharma find themselves as pulverising riffs from guitarists Andrew Perez and Brian Pilla fly during opening cut “By Any Means“, the head nodding Chicago style Metallic Hardcore interspliced with fleeting moments of Hardcore Punk designed for stage dives and high fives. Those 90’s influences lend themselves well to Moten’s shriller vocal style and by the time mid tempo chugger “Changes” comes out swinging with a real air of familiarity to it, it’s a stone cold winner. Angular guitars with breakdown style rhythmic gymnastics and no fear of going downtempo makes this one a punishment beating, the use of samples adding a little spice that keeps things fresh. Introspective from the first note “Living In Vain” has a couple of tasteful gang chants and there is very much the sense that Kharma are going to do very well in the heartland of Hardcore that is Germany. That feeling runs into the mosh-ready “Clip Your Wings” with its arty spoken word and delicate solo, as if the four piece are destined to play Summer Breeze alongside Deez Nuts and Lionheart. Bryce Tollner’s menacing drumming is the driving force behind the powerful “Envious“, one with a classic almost Industrial air about it as if designed to be ripped apart and re-engineered by a remixer of repute. A punch in the face with an ear worm riff, it’s a short, sharp shock that’s fearfully addictive. Raw and aggressive, “Still Seeing Red” splits the album clean in half like a hatchet to the skull; the intense heat of the anger that drives Moten spilling out in a cathartic performance that has that little bit more emotion about it. A brutal little ditty about living only to die, it’s one that resonates because sometimes life isn’t a bed of roses but survival against the odds.

Anxiety then floods “Penance” as Moten asks for a sign that God is listening against a pummelling backdrop of crushing guitars and hammer throwing kit work that reaches the territory of Harms Way with consummate ease, the flow of the record from the blood red river to the polluted sea maintained as “Comfort” does like wise. Stylish with a satisfying crunch, the later cuts get increasingly heavy as the band abandon those Hardcore Punk leanings in favour of a more violet approach. In many ways that suits them better and that balls out aggression becomes the hallmark of the title track as “A World Of Our Own” asks for no quarter and makes no apologies. A warning shot for anyone on the streets of Chicago, Kharma are here to strike first and ask questions later. “The Hard Way” makes great use of vocal layering to add a little more depth with three distinctive voices helping provide the darkness, a momentary solo elevating the track from a building site brick fight to something with more venom. For some of us there is only one way to learn and that is the hard way. Giving the opportunity for Moten to dive into the crowd at the end of a set while the band keep playing, a sample leads in the instrumental “Necessary“. A rhythmic powerhouse that underlines Kharma abilities, it ensures that the album finishes all killer no filler. It doesn’t have to be complicated to be fun and that’s often the beauty of a solid Hardcore record… [7.5/10]

Track Listing

  1. By Any Means
  2. Changes
  3. Living In Vain
  4. Clip Your Wings
  5. Envious
  6. Still Seeing Red
  7. Penance
  8. Comfort
  9. A World Of Our Own
  10. The Hard Way
  11. Necessary

A World of Our Own” by Kharma is out 12th April 2024 via Flatspot Records.

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *