MARCH 10th 2013
KYLESA: FROM THE VAULTS - VOL 1

Review by Richard Steven Hensey

Their first release since 2010’s Spiral Shadow, sludge metal/rock band Kylesa returns this time around with a compilation album of sorts, a collection of rarities, re-workings and unreleased material that really don’t act as b-sides. Despite only one entirely new track, End Truth, this album comes off more as a well-articulated solid release than something simply thrown together to capitalize on their growing popularity.

The album begins with an intro, capturing groove characteristically Kylesa, the beat of the dueling drummers against the manipulation of the guitar to make sound uncharacteristic to its nature. The first real track, Inverse begins with a heavy chugging riff before two of the three vocalists begin bellowing out a cacophony of shouting. What this collection of past material and re-workings clearly brings forth is how Kylesa has developed over the years from a much grizzlier sludge band into the lightened pop sludge that they currently produce, along with bands such as Baroness and Torche. But more importantly, as the re-workings demonstrate so well, is how they have matured and bettered as a band.

As for the standout moments on the album, the two most captivating tracks come in the middle of the album, Paranoid Tempo and End Truth. Paranoid Tempo is one of those midtempo rockers that are more pop than punk, but you can’t but resist headbanging to. End Truth has Cope singing in a hauntingly monotonous tone before entering into a meandering jam driven by Pleasants’ plucking of strings more like a harp than a guitar that sounds like characteristic Kylesa while also being reminiscent of Red-era Baroness. The most ambitious moment in the album is their rendition of Pink Floyd’s Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun, which isn’t great but it works and in many ways the drumming on this track would seem a better close to the album than the drum jam. With Kylesa covering Pink Floyd really enables them to demonstrate their more prog-leaning in a way that their recent shorter tracks simply don’t make possible. They succeeded it at making their own while leaving the original vibe intact. This collection really showcases the band’s spectrum of capacities and the contrasts across the course of their development. Ultimately, the compilation is a worthy stop gap between Spiral Shadow and a new album that I hope and am eagerly anticipating this year.