I decided to review Kylesa‘s latest album “Ultraviolet” for two reasons: 1. I have not listened to a lot of sludge/psychedelic metal over the years. It’s not that I dislike this genre of metal but I get stuck in a rut listening mostly to Thrash, Black and Death metal. I wanted to go outside my comfort zone a little. 2. The buzz for this band/album has been big, be it good and bad, and after listening to this album I can happily say it was a wise choice to step out of my usual listening zone.
For those like me who do not know, Kylesa was established in 2001 out of Savannah, Georgia. To date, the only original members left are Phillip Cope and Laura Pleasants, who share vocal and guitar duty. “Ultraviolet” is their sixth studio album, the follow up to 2010’s highly praised “Spiral Shadow.”
The album contains 11 tracks and starts off with ‘Exhale,’ which hits you over the head with pounding drums in sync with a heavy, chugging guitar riff. Great way to begin! Other standout songs are ‘Long Gone,’ which features a terrific drum duel between Carl McGinley and Eric Hernandez , ‘Steady Breakdown,’ with haunting vocals, great guitar/bass grooves and a final 20 seconds which crushes you, and the last track, ‘Drifting,’ which at first has a mellow/ calming effect. If you close your eyes and listen, you feel like you are being called to your happy place and then the guitars wake your ass up to finish strong.
I was very impressed with the musicianship skills. Everyone in the band plays multiple instruments and has no fear of exploring where they can go musically, which makes the whole album sound rich and layered. One minute you are listening to down in the mud sludge, the next minute it quickly transitions to psychedelic dream-like hooks and melodies, and ends with you getting floored by thunderous drums and heavy riffs. The only complaint I have for this album is that the running time is only 38:50. Older fans of Kylesa will want more. I, on the other hand, will have the pleasure of listening to the previous five Kylesa albums.
So give “Ultraviolet” a listen. It’s a trip, in more ways than one.