Karma To Burn, Dozer, Disengage
Columbus, Ohio is a place that has a small, yet important piece of stoner rock history for U.S. bands from the late 90’s through today. Bands like Rebreather, Disengage, Red Giant and many others were laying the foundation for independent, small acts in and around this region. Another band from this area who formed a bit later is Lo-Pan and if you’re not familiar with them, well, it’s you’re lucky day. Lo-Pan, signed to Small Stone Records label, has created a small underground following that has not yet crossed over to the masses. They have been able to keep stoner rock alive and well in Columbus through excessive touring and committed musicians. Rounding out the band is Jeff Martin (vocals), J. Bartz (drums), Skot Thompson (bass) and Brian Fristoe (guitar) and their fourth album Colossus is a straight shooting album that cuts to the chase. There are no slow building jam sessions, no instrumentals or time-wasting interludes. What we have here are four mates who have fervor for instant gratification.
They kick things off with a tight rhythm and the powered vocals of Jeff Martin on the song “Regulus”. This is a good indication of the albums’ pace and structure. When we mean tight rhythm, the band is in full synch on each and every song. You will not find solos here or slow-paced change-ups, the music is very Karma To Burn like, it’s an all-out rhythm fest. The vocals of Jeff Martin resemble a raw, old school version of a young Lou Gramm; they are upfront, distinct and he knows how to sing within the structure of each song. Track two “Land of the Blind” continues the pace, as one of the standout tracks it has a very catchy chorus. You’ll find yourself singing this song and others to yourself when not listening to the album as each track has very addictive hooks. Now we come to “Black Top Revelation” and the guitars bleed of classic stoner rock along with a steady groove. The track “Marathon Man” feels like it’s a middle of the road song, perhaps it’s because in runs long at 6:39. The rhythm is nice, so don’t let this cloud your judgment. The album bounces back with “N.P.D.,” it’s a short fast-paced song that gets to the point.
The title track “Colossus” shows a slight echoed effect within the vocals, it’s a small yet effective touch. This song also has an edge and some attitude to it, very Disengage like. Now we come to “Vox,” one of the standout tracks. This one is heavy and spacious; the music is slowed down a bit creating an open, vibrant sound and this is where the Dozer comparison comes into play. “Eastern Seas” takes this open-ended song structure a step further making it another standout track. The vocals here a perfect, they are powerful without taking over and the soft background vocals add a special layer. The music is terrific here as well, it’s deep and the bass keeps things afloat. The subtle changeups are impeccable, for example, the guitar break from 3:24 to 3:31 actually goes into Tool territory for a moment, and it just elevates the album. “Relo” is another quality song that is quick and has classic stoner rock roots. The final track “The Duke” is just classic Lo-Pan, it’s a culmination of all the styles found throughout this record, a fine way to close an album.
Lo-Pan has created an upbeat, rhythmic album with Colossus. These songs seem to have been recorded with a live feeling in mind, as each song should translate well in a concert atmosphere. So, go out there and support Lo-Pan on tour and help keep Stoner rock alive and well. - 11/7/2014
Standout Tracks: Eastern Seas, Land of the Blind, Black Top Revelation