Review : Kylesa - Static Tensions
AdequacyStatic Tensions is the fourth album from Savannah, Georgia metal mavens Kylesa and it may well be the best damn album the band’s released and one of the finest of 2009, metal or otherwise. With this, Kylesa take the leap into the big leagues by delivering on the promise of previous release Time Will Fuse Its Worth. Listeners are bombarded with a dual drummer attack and razor sharp downtuned riffage that would make bands like Teeth of the Hydra, High On Fire, and Weedeater proud, while managing to be both more psychedelic and more technically proficient sounding than any of them.
Static Tensions begins with one drum track only to be fleshed out with an additional bit of thunder on “Scapegoat.” But the real treasure here is the mammoth riff on second track, “Insomnia For Months.” The whole song clocks in at just above two minutes and Kylesa waste no time wasting the listener with Sabbath style riffage played at Discharge speed. This in itself would not be that noteworthy, many bands have succeeded at the very same thing and in fact the three mentioned in the previous paragraph are all excellent at employing this tactic to varying degrees. Separating Kylesa from the hordes of other doom/sludge bands practicing this particular style is made easier now with the more pronounced vocals of both Laura Pleasants and Phil Cope. There’s far less of the burly growling found on the band’s earlier works, instead Static Tensions favors a slightly more melodic approach that really works. Elsewhere, as on “Unknown Awareness,” the group delivers wandering passages of spacey guitar noodling to maximum effect. These seem designated to bottom the music out so that the next wave of riffage appears far heavier than it had before....full text
PitchforkIf the world were just, Kylesa would be a household name. Fellow Georgians Mastodon have rocketed to fame due to hard work, press hype, and acceptance by non-metalheads. Fellow Savannians Baroness have earned plaudits due to a sound that's more classic rock than metal. Kylesa, too, have alloyed sludge metal with melody and finesse. Their star, though, has brightened more slowly. After four albums and thousands of road miles logged, its shine has become brilliant.
Kylesa formed in 2001. From the beginning, it was somewhat of a mutt. Hardcore punk, crust punk, caveman metal, and rough-hewn prog did battle on its self-titled debut. 2005's To Walk a Middle Course was darker, dragging sludge metal through murky depths. The following year's Time Will Fuse Its Worth was a breakthrough for several reasons. First, its production was relatively clear, exposing diverse elements: flashes of psychedelia, dueling male and female vocals, punk and metal at each other's throats. Second, it was Kylesa's first album with two drummers. At that time, though, their impact was greater live than on record. Most importantly, the band discovered catchiness. "Hollow Severer" found guitarist/vocalist Phillip Cope carrying an actual tune, and its video got MTV exposure.
The lessons learned are manifest on Static Tensions. In the past, Kylesa's songs were often about a minute too long. Their head-down pounding worked well live, but dragged on record. Now riffs repeat only when necessary. Songs climb up and down with relentless momentum. "Scapegoat", for example, is basically a hardcore punk two-step. But despite this newfound efficiency, the songs are more baroque than ever. They flaunt melodies shamelessly now. Choruses are insistent. Practically the whole record is hummable. The bright theme of "Unknown Awareness" arcs like a rainbow overhead. "Running Red" alternates Slayer harmonies with riffs redolent of Black Sabbath's "Iron Man". Laura Pleasants' singing, once a buried gem, is often upfront. She ranges from a mysterious coo to more forceful declamation. Both provide a feminine contrast to roiling, downtuned riffs underneath....full text
SputnikmusicMetal, as an overall genre, is extremely difficult to pin down. Perhaps that is the purpose of the genre- to avoid the classifications that marginalized punk and commoditized grunge. Due to the ambiguity of the genre, it is a magnificent event when a band creates an album that defies all marginalization, all accusations of blandness and unoriginality that often plague metal and modern music as a whole. These albums must retain the aspects that make metal what it is: the fury, the sonic assault, and the grand instrumental showmanship. This, however, must be balanced with a creative ear for the new- that is to say, the shape of metal to come.
Kylesa have crafted ten songs that combine four decades worth of boiling anger: from the psychedelic, drug-addled musings of 60�s guitar pioneers, to the groundbreaking thrash of Slayer and the sludge of Acid Bath, Kylesa leave no musical rock unturned. The opening song on Static Tensions- �Scapegoat�- has an almost hardcore vibe, followed by a guitar-phaser fueled breakdown that adds a tension to the sonic assault. �Unknown Awareness� furthers the psychedelic vibe of the album, with the guitars crafting patterns that swirl around the pounding, pseudo-tribal drum beat. Standout track �Running Red� is the most obviously metal of the bunch: the group directly tribute Black Sabbath, and do so in the most fitting way possible. The guitars roar, and the song is about as catchy as metal gets. On album closer �To Walk Alone�, the band seems to go beyond a wall of sound, almost fusing with a music in a way usually reserved for post-rock bands. The guitars reach for the sky, and the drums drag them back down. Somewhere in the chaos, a voice reverberates like a yell during a hurricane. The voice isn�t in vain; it is in fact somewhat necessary to prove that life is still here, that the musicians are in fact separate from the music....full text
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