WINGER – Karma [digitally remastered +1] (2018)
No longer into the Frontiers Music roster, Kip Winger has retrieved the rights of WINGER‘s latest albums. In the case of “Karma“, Kip has freshly remastered the album himself, added the bonus track originally available in some countries, and re-released it 2018 via his own label.
After their comeback into the scene with the ‘IV’ album, three years after Winger returned with “Karma”, a much more rocking, commercial affair.
First off, this is probably the heaviest Winger has ever sounded. Long gone are the days of syrupy pop-rock numbers, “Karma” reveals a meaner and leaner Winger.
Rather than try and return to the early slick smooth sound, what Winger have done is take the “modern” edge of ‘IV’, the killer riffs of ‘Pull’ and merge them with the unmistakable choruses and melody of the band’s early work.
It has to be said that what that marriage has produced is quite stunning. What is also in evidence is the starker, emotional approach taken on Kip’s solo outings which add a maturity in the vocal department and arrangements that has possibly been lacking from the band’s previous efforts.
Perhaps Winger did make a deal with the devil, as the opening track states, but the one that is really possessed here is Reb Beach. By listening to him shred all over the CD you’d swear he was doing it to demonstrate to David Coverdale how underutilized he is in Whitesnake.
“Stone Cold Killer” keeps up the momentum with Winger’s ranging bass line and Morgenstein’s drums clouting you between the eyes. This is controlled aggressive stuff, however it manages to possess a killer melody line and sing-a-long chorus in between the razor sharp guitars.
There really is no let up as “Big World Away” romps past with its mesmerising vocals and rip roaring guitars. “Come A Little Closer” perfectly mixes the Pull era of the band with Kip’s solo years. The stop start guitars insist on embedding themselves in the mind, however it’s the vocals that steal the show and especially during the chorus, Kip is completely hypnotising.
“Pull Me Under” has that classic Winger of old chorus with the vocals slowly building up to a controlled scream as Beach and second guitarist John Roth weave their magic both during the main body of the song and the sublime hammer-on solo. Both get their instruments to squeal and yowl in delight as Morganstein and Winger keep a rock solid rhythm.
The first track to really take its foot off the gas is “Supernova” (a soaring number that is arguably the best on the CD) featuring a Kip’s impassioned vocal. Kip always sound best when he seems to be on the verge of losing control and this is a perfect example of just that.
“Always Within Me” is a killer power ballad, it sounds relevant now, however it would have been a massive hit back in the Nineties.
Once more “Feeding Frenzy” perfectly blends the accessible melody that Winger are able to so easily produce with the biting insistent beat and power of Morgenstein. It’s the last true rocking track on the album as “After All This Time” and “Witness” slow things down.
The first of the two has a bluesy weeping feel as Kip sings about long term love. There’s a beautiful solo and the drumming is restrained and graceful. Choosing to end such a guitar heavy album with two slower tracks may seem a little odd, however here it works well, after the blues of “After All This Time”, “Witness” has a huge expansive sound that just encompasses you and completely transports you into the song.
As with the rest of the album, the sound is spot on and as the song progresses through its seven minutes the atmosphere just grows and grows until a spectacular almost three minute guitar solo leaves you stunned.
Winger has never rocked this hard or been this aggressive. “Karma” is a killer album, rocking for the most part and rich in melody.
What about this Kip Winger remaster? Compared with the original Frontiers release, this 2018 remaster feels a bit more melodic, I mean, balanced in the instrumentation, and I guess it will appeal even more the traditional Melodic Hard Rock audience.
01 – Deal With the Devil
02 – Stone Cold Killer
03 – Big World Away
04 – Come a Little Closer
05 – Pull Me Under
06 – Supernova
07 – Always Within Me
08 – Feeding Frenzy
09 – After All This Time
10 – Witness
11 – First Ending (bonus track)
Kip Winger – vocals, bass, keyboards
Reb Beach – guitars, vocals
Rod Morgenstein – drums, piano
John Roth – guitars, vocals
Michael Chapdelaine – guest guitar on ‘First Ending’
BUY IT !