Masters of genre-hopping heavy music, Kylesa are back with another blast of pounding metal riffage.
The Savannah quintet may well have long seen out their tenth anniversary but this new offering is as fresh as a newly picked daisy.
The reason why Ultraviolet stands out loud and proud is that the band refuse to conform to the conventional. Sure, you have Laura Pleasants up front helping to deliver a two guitar attack that only the soulless could resist nodding their head to, but vocal duties are well shared around, allowing for deep lyrical mood swings and some thundering harmonisation. The really neat trick though is the addition of a second drummer. We all like a good bit of drumming, and with Kylesa you now get that wonderful throbbing tribal beat that sends crowds wild. They don’t overdo it though, preferring wisely to keep the off beats and tub thumping wizardry to little magical moments.
That tribal brutality makes its presence felt most on the start of Steady Breakdown where in the time-honoured fashion of being unfashionable, things start off all grizzly, slowing to a porcelain fragility in the middle, before picking up again just at the end. Keeping things surprising within the band’s sound is a key feature of Ultraviolet. They’re quite happy to throw in all sorts off unexpected additions such as the haunting gothic vibe you get from Unspoken along with a heavily disguised nod towards the hardcore movement on We’re Taking This.
The core sound though, the engine room of Kylesa, is a sinew-twisting mix of stoner rock and doom metal. It’s at its best on the laid back Steady Breakdown where simplicity holds the key and huge slabs of melody just wash over you. This is music with real power, helped hugely by the almost dreamy vocals thrown out by Pleasants. Her voice is something of an enigma. Part ethereal bliss, part husky psycho queen, she manages to find just the right balance in the ever changing Ultraviolet particularly on the hybrid of metal and ambient music Vultures Landing, which sounds like the entire band have been time warped from the seventies and handed a whole room full of technology to play with.
The theme continues right through the latter part of the album making for quite a departure from how it started. It’s a brave move to lump similar, and I use the term loosely, sounding tracks together. I’m not entirely sure it works with album closer: Drifting dips a toe into the realms of the experimental, and you do end up feeling a bit like you’ve eaten a great main course only for the dessert to go all ‘nouvelle cuisine’ on you. Here I think it might have been prudent to finish up with a real belter rather than trailing off and just walking into the sunset.
That small gripe aside, Kylesa have proved once again to be one of the movers and shakers of music, rather than tamely following well worn routes.
They’re the sort of band others look to for inspiration and in Ultraviolet will have given many food for thought.