While Cincinnati's Indie and Garage Rock acts continue to get the lion's share of the national spotlight, there are still quite a few straight-ahead Hard Rock bands in town, and Karizmata is among the best. The band shows off its songwriting and musical chops on its self-titled debut, a collection of 10 tracks that range from full-throttle to hushed balladry. The songs are melodic, tasteful and concise without a hint of pretension. Each cut is a radio-ready nugget, but most possess qualities that lift them above generic Post-Grunge repeats. The tasty guitar leads and solos, courtesy of Rob Chafe and Pat McGregor, morph and layer to keep the tunes interesting, allowing tracks like "In Between" and "Access Denied" to grow beyond pedestrian chugging. Bassist Kurt Auer gets into the act as well, pounding out a fat pulse on "Find A Way" and even soloing over the bridge. Another consistent feature of Karizmata's sound is the liberal use of syncopation and cross-rhythms, frequently taking the band close to AltMetal territory (such as on "Signs"). Yet they never miss the opportunity to stick a soaring chorus in there, thanks in large measure to Billy Kissinger's powerful voice. Nimble and pitch-perfect, he shines whether he's belting out his lyrics like each word might be his last ("Live It Down" and "Signs") or opting for a softer delivery ("Three Words" and "Next In Line"). As a bonus, he deals with emotional themes without being trite, whiny or posing. The recording and mixing quality is excellent (the disc was self-produced), offering a hard-hitting sound that is refined but not too polished and would be right at home on the Rock-end of the radio dial.Karizmata was featured on a WEBN/Bud True Music compilation a few years ago and this gem is sure to garner even more attention.
Karizmata spends a lot of time on the road. A local CD release party this weekend was cancelled due to a double-booking; check myspace.com/karizmata for updates on a possible replacement date. Buy tickets, check out performance times and find nearby bars and restaurants here.