Static Tensions

Written by: PP on 05/04/2009 17:39:51

During recent weeks, I've seen nothing but truckloads upon truckloads of praise for Kylesa and their fourth album "Static Tensions". Ratings along the lines of 5/5, 4.5/5 are more like commonplace than the exception, and that praise becomes all the more credible when it comes from established magazines like Pitchfork and ThePRP. Especially the latter seldom, if ever, seem to give a rating that I wouldn't agree with. But this time I'll beg to differ. Although I can see why the fusion of Mastodon-esque post-metal, sludge/stoner rock, and elements of hardcore is like a nice, juicy steak of Argentinian beef on the plate for these type of magazines, I've yet to become friends with the record - thanks to its relentless need to show off masculinity and its aural will to tear down my cranium song-by-song.

With two drummers in the band, you can create pretty crazy drum patterns varying from the layered tribal sequences to the sheer pounding that makes this record as freaking loud as it is. Then there are two guitarists who spend 99% of their time spitting out layers upon layers of sludgy post-metal groove and psychedelia. Add in the mix a masculine, High On Fire/Mastodon-imitating vocalist, yelling in a strange manner that combines the hardcore bark and a rough clean vocal. All in all a pretty unfriendly and inaccessible mix, which few non-sludge fans will ever become friends with. But that isn't such a problem on the record; neither is the varying sound that goes from "Running Red", which sounds so much like Mastodon instrumentally that it's scary, to the echoing, atmospheric post-metal of "Almost Lost". Enough listens will make you nod your head in acceptance, if nothing else. Nope, the problem lies in that this type of music, Kylesa included, all too often sounds so goddamn pretentious.

I'm sure Kylesa are honestly trying to forge as great of a record as they possibly can, but in my ears it all just sounds like trying to be incredibly artsy-fartsy without enough meat around the bones. I know this'll come across as sacrilege to some, but it has exactly the same problem that has plagued post-"Leviathan" Mastodon: The songs drag on and on and on without enough recognizable riffs or tangible moments that you'll remember once you turn the record off. There are exceptions, such as "Only One" that borrows from Since By Man, but still. Yeah, I hear you, that's never been the point of anything associated with sludge or post-anything (other than post-hardcore of course), but really, it doesn't do much--if anything--to me. Sure enough, it's easy to appreciate the intricate structure and constant pummeling of Kylesa, and it's not bad by any means, but there's just no way I can rate it any higher, despite all the redeeming points mentioned above.

Download: Only One, Scapegoat, Said And Done
For the fans of: The Sword, Mastodon, High On Fire
Listen: Myspace

Release date 16.03.2009

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