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Music Review: Kylesa – Static Tensions

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In a mass of sonic enchantment and magnificent guitar riffs, Kylesa’s fourth studio album pounds through standard sets of speakers and obliterates sound systems. By its sheer force of will, this gargantuan record feasts on family pets, blows through walls, and thunders through fine china. With its rattling pound and sludgy thrashing, Static Tensions is a monster.

Based out of Georgia, Kylesa pounds out superb riffs and fierce drum patterns with joy.

The band, which formed in 2001, has gone through countless line-up changes. Guitarist/vocalist Laura Pleasants and guitarist/vocalist Phillip Cope might be the only two original members left in Kylesa, but the addition of drummers Carl McGinely’s and Eric Hernandez (yes, they have TWO drummers) and bassist Javier Villegas forms a powerful group hell-bent on global domination.

Kylesa set out to experiment a bit more on their fourth record, adding tones of psychedelic rock and playing with some different guitar sounds. The idea was to expand the sound, thicken things up with the double drums, and simplify the rest to create reachable, fun, and fucking LOUD rock tunes.

“I didn’t want to make the songs too long-winded or too crazy,” says Cope of the songwriting process. “I wanted to rein it in and leave the listener with something they could hum along to.”

Static Tensions springs out of the gate with the trouncing drums and pressing vocals of “Scapegoat.” The theatrical lyrics, shouted over a heap of aural ecstasy, help elevate the song to Monster Rock status: “You seem to me/ Death incarnate/ Raper of life/ Killer of love.”

A wonderfully crusty tempo shift highlights the sludgefest that is “Said and Done.” The layered drums pound it out while Pleasants and Cope interweave their guitars, producing melodic pleasure at deafening levels.

“Only One” surges with a riff built exclusively for air guitar. It gives way to a heaving snarl with vocals shouted fervently over the fortification of sound.

A haunting piano melody introduces “Running Red,” offering a sense of false security before the band crashes through the door with a colossal tempest of tempo changes, outrageous chord progressions, and breathtaking immensity. The deep low end is like the foot of the sea, crushing skulls and leaving no survivors.

Genre-pissing as relates to Kylesa (and ANY fucking band, for that matter) is stupid, especially with the amount of pure velocity these cats are dragging out of their instruments. With incalculable golden riffs, tremendously dirty bass, and drums that simply do not let up, Static Tensions is a great way to get acquainted with this band and an even better way to test the guts of your speakers.

Kylesa will be touring with Mastodon this spring and will be crushing more eardrums live. More information is available here.

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