Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Album of the Year: 2010 - #5

Kylesa - Spiral Shadow

On Spiral Shadow, Kylesa hit a near perfect balance between the aggressive, driving sludge metal that marked their early albums and the brighter, psychedelic-tinged material that has appeared more recently in their catalogue. One characteristic that has always identified Kylesa's sound is the dual drum tracks, which are as strong and engaging as ever on this release. The extra percussion serves, not to bury the listener under a full artillery barrage, but to establish grooves and rhythms that both drive the rest of the music forward and provide plenty of hooks on their own. The quality of the percussion is obvious enough on the record, but I can vouch for the fact that it is even more impressive in a live setting - possessing as much energy as you will find this side of a Taiko (linked for awesome) ensemble.

Exorbitant praise for the drummers aside, the rest of the band is certainly up to snuff. Most of these drop-tuned riffs are as big and chunky as ever and, when they do decide to brighten it up a bit, the guitar and key work is nothing short of masterful. On tracks like "Drop Out," Kylesa are able to go from pummeling metal to dreamy atmospheres at the drop of a hat and make it sound as natural as anything. Honestly, with most of this album being so damn perfect, I have to address the one reason that Spiral Shadow "falls" to the #5 spot: "Don't Look Back." I am not a fan of this track, the repetitive chorus is annoying and the rest of the song just seems lightweight and lacking substance compared to the album as a whole. If it weren't for this major negative right in the middle of the album, I may have put this atop the entire list this year. The rest of the album oozes awesome, so don't let that one negative deter you from giving this one a listen.

Best Tracks: Crowded Road, Spiral Shadow
Rating: 9/10

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