16. Kylesa - Ultraviolet
I had tons of school work to do today, but since it's my birthday, I decided to treat myself with a nice evening album review.
I actually bought the seventeenth album of this list at MDF, last summer. Firstly, I found that the artwork was a bit underwhelming, especially the stuff inside the booklet, but I was still very excited to hear a new record from one of my favourite bands that soon.
As soon as I was one minute into the brilliant opener "Exhale", I had to admit it. This was the best sounding Kylesa album. By far. You can hear every note played by the two drummers so clearly that it's shocking. They engage in surprising complex subtleties, while maintaining the tribal unity and primalism that makes Kylesa so unique. The vocals are also at their best, especially the ones by Laura, who sounds more melodic, more aggressive and more honest than ever. They also feel a bit more withdrawn than before, blending in better and contributing more to the atmosphere of the music.
The two best thing on the album are probably the two guitars; sometimes massive and fuzzed-out, sometimes drenching the whole room with enormous echo and various effects, and sometimes shrouding the riffs in loops and countless layers - they're basically all over the place. In addition to his fabulous guitar playing, Philip Cope also took the time to polish everything up, adding tons of electronically treated noise, percussive objects, theremin and keyboards, thus bringing in a whole ecosystem of refined sounds, with new ones to discover on every listen of the record. Aside from the outstanding sound work, what sets Ultraviolet
apart from the previous Kylesa albums is the collection of dense spacey moments, wherein the echoing bass uncertainly attempts to guide through Phil's complex sonic sinuosity. Nevertheless, Ultraviolet
is not all pretty ambient stuff: it's still filled with pissed-off hardcore-influenced parts (notably in "We're Taking This", with Laura's finest screams). Everything is also integrated very smoothly; the heavy riffs are often superposed with ethereal notes and chords - it's far from being a potpourri of their influences. It's difficult to take the 2009 released Static Tensions
' place in my heart, but the new one definitely feels more homogeneous.
If you ask me for highlights, I would recommend the blistering opening duo, "Exhale" and "Unspoken", plus "Low Tide" with its chilling ghastly voices and paradoxically uplifting feel.