Keeping up with the bustling Georgia metal scene has often meant growing up: On last year’s Yellow & Green, Savannah’s Baroness made a double-LP that focused quite literally on adulthood, while Mastodon have dropped the prog storytelling, signed with a major label and partnered up with fellow Atlantans Adult Swim to become one of the mainstream’s friendlier metal acts. Kylesa, meanwhile, have always been something of a dark horse among their peers, and on their sixth album Ultraviolet, they convey maturity by simply being a more uncompromising version of themselves. Their once stereo-panned, double-drum assault has been streamlined to an efficient groove machine, while Laura Pleasant, the more distinctive of Kylesa’s two vocalists, has become the prominent frontperson.
More crucially, they synthesize the rhythmic force of Static Tensions and Spiral Shadow‘s anthemic melodies into something simultaneously darker and catchier than what preceded it. Their range has certainly expanded — “Grounded” is Pantera-esque Dixie boogie, while “Low Tide” is M83 in a metal mood — but rather than following in the alt-rock path set by Spiral Shadow highlight “Don’t Look Back,” they take the message of that song to heart instead and Ultraviolet is a testament to Kylesa’s tunnel vision.