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Kylesa - Spiral Shadow

Ronnie Kerswell
Ronnie Kerswell 21 October 2010 at 16.02

Kylesa - Spiral Shadow Cover

It's hard to believe that Savannah's Kylesa have reached their fifth studio release already

It’s hard to believe that Savannah’s Kylesa have reached their fifth studio release already, but when you’re a bunch of prolific songwriters like this five-strong musical machine, writing top notch material comes as naturally as the tides. And from the opening mariachi-dipped bars of ‘Tired Climb’ it’s clear that this mob have raised the bar yet again in their follow-up to 09’s ‘Static Tensions’. We love a track that catches you off guard and ‘Tired Climb’ certainly does just that, from the almost laidback intro that lulls you into a false sense of serenity, it’s as if terra firma crumbles as Kylesa drop you into a swirling sonic abyss loaded with swathes of wah and a full battery of fire and brimstone drums. This is one of the best tracks here and it’s not only clear that guitarists Phillip Cope and Laura Pleasants have sharpened up their axe work, creating a network of interwoven leads, textures and elaborate backdrops, they’ve also picked up the baton vocally with Pleasants living up to her name with the sweet phrasing in the opener and elsewhere the raw, primal calls of before are used to punctuate and pierce the hefty sonics. The buzz saw distorted bass rips open ‘Cheating Synergy’, a majestic track which blurs the boundaries between sludge and psyche so seamlessly it creates a new beast, meanwhile the dynamic guitar effects of ‘Drop Out’ are almost Envy-like before striding off onto a driving chorus in a flurry of drums that clatter like the hooves of a battalion of war horses. ‘Crowded Road’ recalls pre-Torche mob Floor in its driving heaviosity which grooves like one fuck of a mutha – almost hitting Floor / Torche man Steve Brooks’ so-called ‘bomb string’ before darting off on another, almost Eastern European tangent – and just when you’ve got into that groove, this bastard darts off once more! There’s nothing like keeping the listener on their toes – but that’s not to say that ‘Spiral Shadow’ isn’t a cohesive and logical affair – it’s more than that. With intelligent and complicated songwriting structures that cement with such a consistency and clarity, this Savannah mob demonstrate exactly where their strength lies, and coupled with the progression from the past couple of releases, ‘Spiral Shadow’ demonstrates a musical maturity that is beyond this band’s years. There’s the swamp-thick, striding riffery of ‘Don’t Look Back’ complete with minimalist lyrics that are repeated in unison as if a mantra to move forward (and one you’ll defi nitely find lodged in the grey matter days later), and juxtaposed nicely, ‘Distance Closing In’ is a spacey, acid-trip of a song. The title track itself nods towards Thin Lizzy in parts before descending into a whirl of hypnotic guitars and mesmerising vocal. Dynamic and deft in its execution, an addictive listening experience that’s certainly more ‘more-ish’ than crack or heroin (perhaps someone should tell Phil Mitchell), ‘Spiral Shadow’ might just be the album of the year so far. All hail the kings (and queen) of nouveau-prog.

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