Kylesa- Spiral Shadow

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Kylesa’s transformation over the past few years has been truly remarkable. The group started off as a sludge act that had some metalcore/hardcore leanings and as they have progressed they have gotten more experimental and added a psychedelic edge to their heavy sludge riffs. After leaving Prosthetic Records in favor of Season of Mist, the band recorded Spiral Shadow which finds them experimenting more than ever before. It’s a different direction, but it is easily the best thing Kylesa has done yet and leaves plenty of opportunities for the future.

One of the first things long time listeners might notice is that the riffs aren’t quite as heavy and monstrous as they were on Static Tensions. This doesn’t mean that the group has lost its intensity and bottom heavy riffs, as instead of hitting the listener with these styles right from the start Kylesa now builds up to them as though they are implementing a calculated attack. Tracks head off into waves of psychedelic melodies before hitting you with sludgy riffs, and despite the fact that this is what the group is known for the climaxes manage not to sound too predictable. The instrumentalists have taken a lot of risks and tried to evolve their established formula, and it has resulted in an album that keeps you guessing throughout and will also keep you coming back.

Kylesa has typically had screamed vocals contributed by Laura Pleasants, Phillip Cope, and Corey Barhorst and this is still the case on Spiral Shadow. One of the better elements of the group’s material has always been the interplay between the different vocalists and these songs have given that plenty of time to grow and become even more impressive than before. Laura Pleasants also uses a lot more clean pitches this time around, as the title track of the album showcases a much softer side. It works quite well, and gives the band even more texture and complexity than before.

Spiral Shadow is one hell of an album, and should make listeners who hadn’t heard of Kylesa before really pay attention to them. Now, I thoroughly enjoyed Static Tensions but this release blows it out of the water and showcases that when the band embraces even more psychedelic experimentation that it works out wonderfully. There’s still plenty more the group can do, and this makes their future seem even more promising.

Full Disclosure: Review copy provided by Speakeasy PR

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