REVIEW: KYLESA – “Exhausting Fire”
Georgian sludgers Kylesa are back with their seventh album ‘Exhausting Fire’, released just before their fall tour around the USA, kicking off in Florida. The trio has managed to reclaim some of their basic grittiness that seemed to disappear with their last few releases. Making a welcoming return is the tribal percussive sounds which were pretty lax of late.
Kylesa’s sixth album ‘Ultraviolet’ saw the band solidify their current psychedelic and less aggressive musical direction. ‘Exhausting Fire’ has broken that mould and sees the band edge backwards through time to incorporate their prior sounds. The main musical focus mixes dirty slow riffs with haunting ambience whilst topping it off with a stereotypical southern-tinged groove, which is to be expected from a metal band locale to their cardinal orientation.
“Crusher” starts the album off with a heavily distorted, guitar-driven drone and deeper, more serious-toned vocals. As the song enters the verse, the distorted guitar eases off and switches to an acoustic psychedelic sound with a softer distant voice. The contrast works rather well as it fuels opposing emotions. The latter half combines the prior distinct sounds with a dominant relaxed vibe, before kicking back up the distortion to end the track as it started.
“Falling” is the lightest song from the album, with its relaxing soundscapes created by the reverbed overtures of the guitar melody. The mixture of electric and acoustic guitars and solid framework via the percussive elements makes for a softer approach, but it is this lighter drone which makes it appealing. The track picks up a bit towards the end, creating an alternative sound that carries the track over to the end.
“Shaping the Southern Sky” is by far the most hypnotizing track; from start to finish, each structural change draws the listener in. The main riff is exceedingly catchy as it is the main factor for the first half of the track. The latter half consists of a hypnotic bass-driven breakdown, especially as the vocal line is faded, whispering on over the top. The futuristic overtones are rather alluring, fitting well over the instrumentation. This suddenly breaks away by combining the contrasting elements to end the song on upbeat note.
Kylesa has progressed to another level, yet still retaining what they mastered over the last several years. Generally, ‘Exhausting Fire’ leads the listener on a tangent where tracks blend really well even when the stark contrast occurs. Dynamically, each instrument is varied whilst still being able to retain a gritty drone amalgamated with bluesy sounds and structures.
To conclude, ‘Exhausting Fire’ is a strong album that accentuates Kylesa’s later material, leading to a well-rounded album. The heavy distorted guitars make a welcome return while the lighter haunting sections create an intriguing interlude to the sludge metal sound that the band is known for. It has something for old and new fans of the band’s discography, which should go down positively with their audience.