Kylesa

Ultraviolet

Written by: AP on 14/08/2013 21:37:47

Of all the sludge metal bands in the world, Kylesa have always been the most erratic; their unlikely blend of genres stretching from post-punk and garage rock to dream pop and psychedelic rock, cementing them as one of the most creative, diverse and readily recognisable bands of the sludge movement. Still, their wayward genre aggregations have rarely struck a chord with me, with 2011's "Spiral Shadow" and its predecessor, the 2010 LP "Static Tensions" leaving a modest, though not altogether insignificant impression. But here at last with "Ultraviolet", six studio albums into their career, the magic is beginning to grip a hold of me.

Veiled in mystery and dread, "Ultraviolet" is best described as a coming together of eerie psychedelic infusions, earth rocking dirge and heavy grooves, like some errant offspring of Beach House, High on Fire and Mastodon (circa "Crack the Skye" (2009)). These ideas and influences are there to be beheld on opening duo "Exhale", which features two bass lines courtesy of a cameo from Jay Matheson, and the excellent "Unspoken"; owing in no small part to the greater role guitarist Laura Pleasants now plays with her vocal contributions; while track three "Grounded" presents itself as a much more traditional, groove based affair reminiscent of the pop-riddled sludge of Baroness on their "Red Album" (2007). It, too, has its bits of space exploration to be sure, but the song is primarily centered around an eloquent, stoning riff of an exquisitely unforgettable nature. Sadly not everything "Ultraviolet" has to offer has this character, as "We're Taking This" and "What Does It Take", with their brevity, charging tempo and incensed shouting and screaming (delivered by guitarists Phillip Cope and Laura Pleasants, respectively) over acidic resonance, quickly prove. They seem a little pointless in the context of the bigger picture, and might have been omitted to afford "Ultraviolet" a greater sense of unity.

But even so there is an abundance of obscure, yet strangely compelling material begging to be digested here, whether it's the dreamy heaviness and tribal percussion administered by "Long Gone", or the slow-burning, shoegazing balladry of "Steady Breakdown". Above all, "Ultraviolent" suceeds through diversity, ebbing and flowing through a range of intriguing dynamics both within and in between its individual songs. But it also has the intrinsic advantage of Kylesa opting for a two-pronged drum arrangement (though as opposed to the band's previous work, which variably features Tyler Newberry (2007, 2010-2013), Eric Hernandez (2008-2009), Jeff Porter (2006-2007), Jason Caldwell (2005), Brandon Baltzley (2004-2005) or Christian Depken (2001-2004) on one of the drumkits; here the two prongs have been laid down by Cope himself, and Carl McGinley, who has been with Kylesa since 2006), allowing for an enormous amount of texture and depth in the rhythm department, as exemplified well on "Vulture's Landing" - one of the record's standout tracks - and "Quicksand", which sounds somewhat like Torche on psychedelic drugs. "Drifting" seems almost a b-side of Portishead's dark and troubled trip-hop - in the best possible sense - and divulges once and for all Kylesa's strong penchant for psychedelia, concluding the album on as mysterious a note as "Exhale" begins it.

As such, "Ultraviolet" is not a flawless album, but it does offer me a set of intrigues that the band's previous material never could. At times hypnotic, at times magnetic, and at times genuinely punishing, it is an album which begs for, and even requires plenty of airtime in order to fully appreciate; and an album which should appeal to fans of stoner, psychedelic and sludge alike. Highly recommended stuff.

8

Download: Unspoken, Grounded, Long Gone, Vulture's Landing, Drifting
For the fans of: Baroness, High on Fire, Plöw
Listen: Facebook

Release date 24.05.2013
Season of Mist

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