They Walk the Line
Savannah’s Kylesa has always existed somewhere in the overlap of punk and metal. Since their first record in 2001, these sonic pioneers have developed their handcrafted blend of pure heaviness, ambient samples, dark melodies and shouted vocals. With their Prosthetic Records debut, To Walk A Middle Course, they have an opportunity to hit a much wider audience, but fall slightly short of their past brilliance.That’s not to say this is a bad record. From the opening notes of “In Memory” the album takes off with a full throttle intensity that leaves no breathing room between tracks. Guitarists/Vocalists Laura Pleasants and Phillip Cope trade lines and even double up for powerful choruses propelled by every ounce of breath they can muster. Bassist Corey Barhorst occasionally adds his deep growl to the mix, accenting Pleasants’s and Cope’s harsh harmonies.
The upbeat “Bottom Line” is more hardcore-influenced, and is one of the tightest tracks. “Shatter the Clock” retains elements of their earlier work, while songs like “Welcome Mat to an Abandoned Life” and “Phantoms” play with some calmer prog elements that work especially well.
Every song takes multiple twists and turns through technical metal passages, sampled sound textures, low-tuned bone-rattling riffing and flanging quiet guitar melodies. This wide arsenal of styles has always been a favorite tactic of Kylesa, but this record seems to lack the focus of previous releases. Parts don’t flow as seamlessly into each other, and some songs lack the unifying theme that longtime fans have come to appreciate in their back catalog.
Like Mastodon, Kylesa refuses to succumb to strict genre definitions, and open-minded metal fans should definitely give this a listen.