Season of Mist
27 May 2013
by Tom Dare
It’s interesting that two of the most notable alumni of that Georgia sludge scene – Baroness and Mastodon – have moved a little away from their more crushing roots in recent years, and had success by doing so. Another distinguished graduate, Kylesa, have found their own, very different path for sixth album Ultraviolet. It’s individual, distinctively theirs and not quite what you expect.
It’s also bloody heavy and pretty metal.
From the outset, Ultraviolet is a dark, brooding affair. All the hallmarks of the band are there – the heavy use of drum fills that the two-drummer approach allows, the interplay between Phillip Cope’s and Laura Pleasants’ excellent voices, and a chock load of riffs – but they use them all much better than they have before. In some cases, this is due to them reining things in. The drumming thing is surprisingly subtle, with the two kits holding back when the guitars really roar, before articulating the more quiet passages – in the Sabbath-tinged ‘Grounded’, for example. This lets the raw sections convey their power without sounding cluttered, while layering those sections with more musical space – the bits where you can actually appreciate it.
Similarly, Kylesa’s open desire to texture their music extensively is well judged. ‘We’re Taking This’ gets its bastard-nasty growling riff out early, before the distortion falls away and the psychedelic effects come over the top of quieter fare. That snarling metal riff comes back underneath without anything getting lost – your brain has absorbed the guitar and vocal aggression, leaving you free to follow the less tangible sounds.
Despite Kylesa’s obvious talent and overt ambition, it’s been clear they haven’t quite managed to pull of exactly what they want to achieve musically. Ultraviolet is the first time they’ve managed to sound like their goal has been reached. You will find yourself returning to it beyond the bluesy riffs, the heady atmosphere and the impassioned vocals, because it’s put together with a shitload of skill. This is music that’d be easy to make a mess of, but when it’s nailed – as it is here – it’s killer. Ultraviolet aims high, and hits its target, with the result being a gorgeous, crushing, nuanced album that’s terrifically enjoyable.
Sounds Like: Torche, Black Tusk, Mastodon
Standout Tracks: Long Gone, What Does It Take, Low Tide