KYLESA – Exhausting Fire
There are bands out there that follow a musical path. Not that they imitate other acts or artists, but they follow a certain path. Then there are also bands that make their own path. They craft a more unique sound, constructing it with each release, always striving to perfect that vision. Savannah’s Kylesa obviously fall within the second category, no question about that. The road that they have paved is laid out with six monstrous albums already, numerous split and EP releases, as well as a compilation album, From The Vaults, Vol. 1.
From the raw, self-titled debut released back in 2002, it was quite obvious that this band was onto something. The more direct and powerful incarnation of Kylesa reappeared in To Walk A Middle Course and Time Will Fuse Its Worth, both excellent in their aggressive attitude and destructive approach. However, the true switch in the dynamics of the band would be brought three years after the release of Time Will Fuse Its Worth, with the follow-up album, Static Tensions. Kylesa really begun founding themselves in that album. Even though the band always had a psychedelic leaning, that was further examined and severely expanded in their 2009 full-length. From there on, the band seriously took off, with one great release following another, as they went from Static Tensions to Spiral Shadow and Ultraviolet, in order to reach today’s Exhausting Fire.
The colossal guitars of Kylesa obviously play a prominent role in the band’s latest album. The heavy sludge-oid part of the outfit has a number of different manifestations in Exhausting Fire. The opening song, “Crusher,” finds the band with a more destructive taste to their heavier outbreaks, creating a great contrast as well to the more trippy background and the ethereal vocals that creep in the song. The same contrast is found in “Lost And Confused,” with the huge guitar parts colliding with the psychedelic tendencies of the band. But there are also moments when Kylesa takes on a more primal mantle. “Blood Moon” is such an instance, with the band taking on an old-school hardcore vibe, with a few sludge breakdowns thrown in there for good measure. Of similar energy and urgency are the more hostile moments of “Night Drive.”
Label: Season of Mist
Kylesa’s guitar riffs have something contagious about them – their pace and construction is just addictive, leading to moments where the heavy guitars are simply catchy as hell. Tracks such as “Moving Day” and “Out of My Mind” are a testament to that. And there is also a very distinct connection with heavy rock in Kylesa’s music, which has been obvious in previous albums as well, an example being “Grounded” from Ultraviolet. Exhausting Fire also features such moments, as is the case with the heavy rock feeling in parts of “Falling,” finding the guitars taking on a more furious and distorted form, as well as “Out of My Mind,” with the band stepping a bit further away from their sludge past and into the arms of heavy rock in the final part of the track. Even so, the most impressive moment of that mentality has to be “Shaping The Southern Sky,” an excellent track with a more exciting, upbeat and fun side of heavy/psychedelic rock, with the licks in the track drenched in southern rock affinity.
Much like the Roman god Janus, Kylesa is a band of transitions. Their one foot is planted within the sludge and heavy rock domains, while their other side exists in a different dreamscape. Psychedelia is of equal importance to the band to truly showcase their sonic vision in its complete form. And from that aspect especially, Exhausting Fire is one of the most inspired albums from Kylesa. At parts they can appear with an ethereal disguise, as beautiful, delicate guitar parts creep in the soundscapes of Exhausting Fire, as it happens in the opening song, “Inward Debate” and “Lost and Confused.” There is a certain haze about these moments, that bring the music to a dreamlike state, radiating a very cool vibe.
But then there are instances when Kylesa travel far within their psychedelic core, and that is when they are at their most interesting. Apart from its heavy rock theme, “Shaping The Southern Sky” features a plethora of acid dripping guitar parts. Kylesa suddenly transfers you to a place where time is simply melting away. The heavy bass and guitars are leading the way, as the guitars are dropping acid and the effects sweep the scenery, resulting in almost a loss of consciousness; the band carries on with more abstract themes in “Falling,” radiating a state of mental haze with that intoxicating vibe, bringing the hypnotic quality of Kylesa to a very strange realization.
Kylesa still manage to move more freely within the psychedelic domain, this time with a trip to shoegaze territory. “Moving Day” and its psychedelic touch verge towards shoegaze with that huge sound, resulting in a full ambiance with a hypnotic and at the same time, almost cathartic quality. The closing track of the album similarly leans towards that domain, with its more expansive moments, as do the trippy parts of “Night Drive.”
Kylesa have been improving with every release, and even though Exhausting Fire does not see them stepping outside of their sound, they are really improving on what they do. Their structures seem to be more solid, the psychedelic parts more mesmerizing and the heavy riffs, well… heavier. It really has been an insane ride for Kylesa. Since their debut album, they have been constantly raising the bar, and guess what? They do exactly that again with Exhausting Fire.