Tuesday 28 May 2013

Kylesa - Ultraviolet - Album Review

Do we really need to do an introduction for this brilliant and legendary band. Fine. I will play along for people that haven't heard of them.

Kylesa are a Psych/Sludge Metal Band from Savannah, USA.

The members are:

Laura Pleasants (vocals, guitar)
Phillip Cope (vocals, guitar, theremin)
Carl McGinley (drums)
Eric Hernandez (drums)
Chase Rudeseal (bass)


So here we go, new Kylesa. But this ain't just any new Kylesa, this is an old dog with some slightly newer tricks. Don't get me wrong here folks - the teeth are still sharp, but it's overall a distinctly more placid affair. And that's not a bad thing at all. In fact, it's REALLY good.

'Ultraviolet' is the band's second outing proper for Season of Mist, a partnership that has yielded impressive results. They obviously have the creative freedom to be the outfit they really aspire to be, and SOM quite clearly has faith in them. That said, as previously alluded to, this new album is more laidback in it's approach. The songwriting has improved, and attention has been paid to expanding upon the already impressive vocal skills of Laura Pleasants. Let's break it down.

'Exhale' starts us off in typical fashion; pounding, almost tribal rhythms flow forth, all the while fused with some premier sludge riffery. Throw in some nice psych and we have a Kylesa track on our hands. Would be standard, were anything they have ever done be able to be classified as such. And it can't. Great stuff.

'Unspoken' signifies the beginning of the changes mentioned at the start of this review. Soft and winding, even more so than they have been capable of in the past, it gives way to a more subtle and less blunt guitar sound. You'll still stand up and pay attention, but you won't be hammered right away. And Pleasants' vocal shift comes into earnest even this early on in the record - her performance is genuinely astounding throughout.

'We're taking this' is more traditional Kylesa fare, frighteningly heavy from the offset and captivating. Dual skins, a trademark of their sound, come into effect for the first time proper here, along with the sweet / sour vocal mix, shifting from candied and ethereal to deranged and salted within moments. Were the entire album like this it would be a winner, but they are only ever content when they aren't resting on their laurels.

Without a shadow of a doubt my favourite track here, and I would go so far as to determine my new favourite Kylesa jam altogether, is 'Steady Breakdown'. It features one of their most sumptuous, pointed and glorious riffs. It's so light and dreamy, but utterly memorable. I almost feel sentimental about it, but I'd obviously never heard it before that first listen through. Now THAT'S fucking powerful. When you twin that with Pleasants' sultry new vocal highs it's damn near impossible to stop listening to. This thing is almost spiritual. I adore it.

'Low Tide' is like falling in a dream, and feeling at peace with all you have done in your life, and the people that you surrounded yourself with. Trust me. Listen to it.

'Vulture's Landing' is a sludgy version of an 80s new wave pop track. Think Blondie meets, well, Kylesa. Trust me. Listen to it.

I could harp on about this album until the end of days, I really could. It's by far their best work in an almost peerless career and discography. A bold new direction at times, but still completely heavy on a different level. There is yet an instance that has presented itself where I have been anything but totally excited to hear it. Please join me in that emotion. Grab 'Ultraviolet' today, and melt into it.

Written by Matt Fitton

Thanks to both Speakeasy and Season Of Mist for sending ourselves a copy to review/

Ultraviolet is now available to buy on Season Of Mist Records. Buy it now!!!

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