Friday, November 26, 2010

Kylesa - "Spiral Shadow" (2010) [Seasons of Mist]

From its mellow and refreshing opening chords to the epic post-rock riffage of the last track, Kylesa’s new album Spiral Shadow never really lets up. The hour-and-a-quarter release from the Georgian (US) Sludge Metal quintet is really quite a trip. Blending the obvious Black Sabbath/stoner doom influences with nostalgic pop-punk chords progressions, delay-laden psychedelia and old-school hardcore vocals (the way they were meant to be done -- yelling) the group presents us with a very eclectic yet refreshingly palatable collection of songs. I won’t lie, I had never heard of this group before their new album popped up on my radar. Thus, having only heard the new disc, I hope I don’t offend any Kylesa fans by stating the obvious or misinterpreting the band’s musical intentions in any way. So here we go…

     WOW. I love it. Almost every track has double-tracked drums, usually with a tribal beat on the toms infecting the left side of your stereo while the in right side, your speaker cones are bashed to pieces by the gloriously huge and crusty crash-riding and snare rimshots. The combination of Phillip Cope’s percussive yelling and Laura Pleasants’ almost apathetic-sounding (in a good way) stoner rock drone-y vocals works so well, complementing the excellent guitar work. In terms of tone, the stringed artistry on this disc ranges from atmospheric delay-phaser-wah (the classic stoner rock sound) to bright, crunchy sludge tone. 

A couple of highlight tracks:

Cheating Synergy
This is the second track, and it features a cool combination of straight 4/4 slamming punctuated by instrumental 6/8 sections that really drive the track forward. Snare and tom rolls push the track to the peak of its energy as the guitars crescendo into madness. A short, sweet track that leaves an awesome aftertaste in your ears.

Don’t Look Back
Definitely the most sunny song on the album, this track is marinated in old-school emo and punk-pop sensibility. The wonderfully excecuted chord progression simply can’t do anything but make you feel happy, and the anthemic lyrics are so catchy it’s ridiculous. Though the song doesn’t really go as many places compositionally as most of the other tracks on the album, the entire thing is an earworm. The middle section of the track features a very well-written yet simple lead melody and culminates in an epic buildup to the final verse/chorus of the song. This one is a winner, combining catchiness and old-school composition to create a track that sounds like what Blink-182 could have been if they were any good.

Spiral Shadow
The title track is a bona-fide epic. At 10:24, it’s by far the longest song on the album. It’s here where the stoner/doom side of the albums really shines. Floating amidst the sea of 2-4 minute tracks that make up the rest of the CD, this one is definitely a standout. Much mellower and spacier than many of the other tracks, this gem features some great spacey guitar tone without overdoing it, and some awesome drumming. Sadly, the track does not really go anywhere and pretty much stays within the same couple of riffs for all if its length. However, don’t let this deter you from checking it out, it’s still a very well written song and showcases Laura Pleasants' beautiful voice very nicely.

     Kylesa are well worth checking out. I don’t know about you, but this album makes me feel like hardcore dancing in a neon jumpsuit through a field of dasies atop a tall building at high noon on a bright  summer day. Hopefully this is reason enough for you to check it out.

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