On their fourth record, Static Tensions, the underrated Savannah, Georgia band Kylesa finally lock all of their disparate parts together, turning in their smoothest amalgamation yet of their admixture of Sabbath sludge, bullet-belt basement hardcore, proggy multipart song structures and star-gazing psychedelic rock. Guitarist/singer Philip Cope has turned into a top-flight producer while Laura Pleasants 'voice continues to develop into an instrument as powerful as her axe.
Opener "Scapegoat" sets the tone, a juggernaut from the jump with Eric Hernandez and Carl McGinley's double drum clatter crashing into Cope and Pleasents 'sickening riff-logic. "Insomnia for Months" is two minutes of straight-up punk fury, with Pleasents 'voice droning like Siouxsie Sioux in an Amebix t-shirt. Everything roars into perfect focus in the album's first single "Unknown Awareness." Clean up the riff and no sane hard rock band would turn it down, the drums moving in smart lockstep. But Kylesa aren't afraid to let the guitars surge into something woozy and Cureish, a sensation that becomes amplified on "Running Red," where a menacing piano part opens into phase-shifting drone, twin-guitar Thin Lizzy worship and Pleasents 'zombified mumbling.
Like many metal bands, Kylesa have a habit writing songs that work like variations on a single sonic theme, which can sometimes mean the songs resemble each other. But docking a metal band for this is like hating a McDonalds cheeseburger for looking like the one next to it. Unlike countless other, interchangeable metal bands, Kylesa sound like nobody but themselves.