The debut disc from Allston, MA's Karate is a far cry from the jazzy, stripped-down rock that they would come to embody, but it's still an incredibly fresh start and a brilliant jumping-off point for a young band. Led by Geoff Farina's unparalleled guitar playing, this self-titled disc draws strongly from the burgeoning emo scene that was starting to appear at the time of its release. While peers in Texas Is the Reason and even the Promise Ring were out honing the early emo style, though, Karate were already taking things in a new direction. The opening slink of "Gasoline," with a lengthy pause after just a few lyrics, proved that the band wasn't rushing into anything, and the phenomenal "Bad Tattoo," one of the group's hardest-rocking songs, made it clear that Karate weren't afraid to show a little grit from time to time, either. The unfaltering musicianship that the band would come to perfect in the next few years and records may not be completely evident on this disc, but it is still a strong debut showing with a few truly standout tracks that make a lot of sense as the jumping-off point for Karate's later catalog.
AllMusic Review by Peter J. D'Angelo