Karma is the type of record that elicits a number of reactions. First, I, too, remember my first Norma Jean and The Chariot records. Pittsburgh’s 156/Silence are very clearly influenced by those two acts (with some nods to Poison The Well), as the choppy riffs and feedback are hallmarks of the style. Now, there are a great number of bands that jump off from that style, but so few sound so much like Bless The Martyr and Kiss the Child. Of course, this isn’t a copycat, but the similarity to a certain style of metalcore from 15 years ago (God, we’re getting old) is hard to miss. 156/Silence don’t really do much on their own, save for some nice post-rock interludes at the end of a few of these songs. Those nicely hint at the band’s more ambient past, and I wish they were more frequent.
The second reaction, and this comes after a number of spins, is whether this Pittsburgh band has released something that can stand on its own. Unfortunately, I don’t think that’s the case here, as too much of Karma feels like it’s going through some older motions. This is certainly a constantly enjoyable and fun record, but even down to the vocal inflections, this sounds like a lost early Norma Jean record. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and there will be a ton of people in their late 20/early 30s happy to relive this bygone era, but 156/Silence’s latest EP falters because it sounds way too much like its forebears.