25 October 2010
by Amit Sharma
Wasting no time with releasing a new album a mere 18 months after it’s predecessor, it’s great to see Kylesa acting with the urgency needed for a band to break through to the next level. From the moment you hear those signature dual drum tracks in the opening build up of ‘Tired Climb’, it’s clear that this could be the album that takes them very far indeed.
Spiral Shadow carries a new low-end warmth that breathes more life into their earthquake inducing riffage. Whilst all the main flavours of Kylesa are right where they should be, the overall production is bigger and better than anything they have released so far, producing a record sonically closer to that of the rounded brutality of Crack The Skye by fellow Georgians, Mastodon.
It still sounds like schizophrenic ‘caveman metal’, but the band seem to have a new sense of fuzz, exploring more stoner rock territory than they have previously – at times the album sounds like an infinitely more vitriolic and deranged Fu Manchu. Songs like ‘Drop Out’ are undeniably dirty and rough – almost as if the multitracks had been recorded too loud and clipped, providing a lo-fi rumble to counteract the better production. The result is something splendidly accessible – a vast and impressively rich slab of modern metal that doesn’t lack any of that quintessential underground grit.
It seems the band have learned from the success of Static Tensions and avoided the unnecessarily drawn-out build ups, keeping just what is needed to compliment their heavier side. ‘Cheating Synergy’ showcases their natural ability to fuse the dreamy atmospherics of post hardcore with a variant of sludge that is more doomy than bluesy. The haunting vocals of Laura Pleasants add further ambience to the overall sound, though these moments are not 0verused (rather wisely) and therefore without risk of lacking potency.
Watch the video trailer for Spiral Shadow by Kylesa:
Rhythmically, the tribal energy of Kylesa has never sounded so colossal – the added bass frequencies really emphasising the stereo panned drum tracks. At their heaviest the guitars sound immense and meaty in the way that only cranked Orange amps can, and some great usage of reverbs and delays bring a sense of isolation to the more melodic moments.
The album’s title track is certainly one of the album highlights, running over the ten minute mark and sounding somewhere in between an angry Kyuss or mellow Tool. Yet still the build-ups are kept concise, so it doesn’t get tiresome in the way that ten minute songs easily can do. It’s a quality shared by the rest of the album, picking up the daunting mantle left by Static Tensions, and setting out a new age of Kylesa that looks to be very exciting indeed.
Sounds like: Baroness, Mastodon…Georgian Caveman Metal
Top Tracks: Tired Climb, Drop Out, Spiral Shadows
Kylesa – Spiral Shadow tracklisting:
Don’t Look Back
Distance Closing In
Back And Forth