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Kylesa: Ultraviolet

Kylesa continues to release a steady stream of excellent new music. Even better, they are also offering fans an extended look at their past. It wasn't that long ago that they treated listeners to From the Vaults, Vol. 1, a welcome collection of rarities. With Ultraviolet, though, the band moves a little more away from their past. The songs here aren't quite as riff-oriented as earlier work, but the heavy, sludgy sound—the warm, tuned-down guitars, the two drummers—are still there. I found the new direction to be natural, nothing too drastic or disappointing, just the natural development that comes from caring about musical possibilities.

One of the hallmarks of Ultraviolet is the increased presence of Laura Pleasants' vocals. Pleasants has more of a leading role on the majority of the tracks. She has a low, somewhat deep, voice that should probably be described as melancholy, hypnotic, perhaps even haunting. This album has a much darker quality than other work by Kylesa; many of the tracks have an overriding moodiness that works against the brighter moments. Pleasants' voice is wonderfully unobtrusive, part of the overall sound than a leading presence. When Phil Cope lends his voice to things, he seems more urgent and anxious. I think fans will enjoy the contrast between the two vocal styles, perhaps even preferring Pleasants' voice—I know I did.

The better tracks on this album are palpably dark and moody. "Steady Breakdown," for example, speaks of "the loss of free will," suggesting, I think, a state of depression so deep that human agency seems entirely lost. "Quicksand," darker still, includes the line "I'm choking on my own blood," a horrible and shocking image. I also liked the repeated use of the question "Is this really happening?" on "What does it take." Other strong tracks on this album include "Low Tide" and "Long Gone."

This is a strong album from an important band. After this album, it won't be enough to think of these guys in terms of their influences or of their peers from Georgia. Yes, it's a little less riffy, even a little less positive, than Kylesa's other music, but the soundscapes it creates are memorable and exciting. Kylesa has already established itself as a major band; with this album the band certainly raise the stakes, presenting themselves as a voice to be reckoned with.

Track Listing:
1. Exhale
2. Unspoken
3. Grounded
4. We're Taking This
5. Long Gone
6. What Does it Take
7. Steady Breakdown
8. Low Tide
9. Vulture's Landing
10. Quicksand
11. Drifting

Added: June 13th 2013
Reviewer: Carl Sederholm
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 2347
Language: english

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