The members of Kylesa have never, at any point in their eight-year history, been slouches and their discography has shown a consistent progression...
If we’re talking strict, black and white absolutes, there are one of two ways the trajectory of a band’s quality can go over the course of its existence. On one side, there are the defenders of the old-school faith. Those who staunchly believe that the older stuff will always be the best stuff and that the raw energy and youthful hunger of a band’s formative years can never be topped. Thus, they should refrain from continuing to embarrass themselves, because anything beyond those initial 50 copies of their first two CD-R demos recorded on an eight-track is nothing but sell-out bullshit. On the opposite end, the more realistic music fan takes each album on a case-by-case basis, waiting, watching and listening to see if past promise can be capitalised upon, improvements commensurate with attained experience can be made, different directions explored and so on (none of this, by the way, addresses the silent third category: those bands that are shit and always will be shit).
The members of Savannah, Georgia’s Kylesa have never, at any point in their eight-year history, been slouches and their discography has shown a consistent progression, moving from being sludgy ‘n’ noisy sons (and daughter) of the humid American south to a quasi-sludge metal band making increasing use of classic rock, catchy slabs of crust core, progressive wanderings and Pink Floyd, even if their last album ‘Time Will Fuse Its Worth’ was considered a difficult listen by some who thought it possessed too much talk and not enough rock. If that was a concern to guitarist / vocalist / producer Phillip Cope and his merry band of charges, then all has been addressed by the decidedly uptempo, one-two opening combination of ‘Almost Lost’ and ‘Insomnia For Months’, which are two conventionally structured tracks that fall somewhere between whiskey-drinkin’-gun-firin’ southern rock, proggy tribal rhythms and the textural beauty of Neurosis at their mid-period best (ie. ‘Through Silver In Blood’).
Somewhere along the line, it seems, a switch went off in the band’s collective heads. There’s a healthy helping of irreverence scratching at the foundations the deeper you dig into ‘Static Tensions’; it’s not like they care if ‘Perception’ sounds like a Lynryd Skynyrd-propelled drag racer firing off next to your eardrums, or that ‘Running Red’ mixes the sounds, styles and instrumentation of a multi-cultural metropolis. All that matters is that they are good songs that, when more layers are peeled back, can be interpreted as a melodic and anthemic rallying cry for those who dare step out of the roles prescribed to them by parents, authority, government, workplace politics, significant others and groupthink peer pressure all while calling out to those who’d infringe upon the pursuit of personal independence, balance and happiness. A prime example is ‘Nature’s Predators’ which captures Cope’s expression of anger towards those who’ve sullied the name of the fucking “the town I live in”. It’s a powerful, yet simple, statement and overall, fits ‘Static Tensions’ brilliant totality rather well.