Sometimes the supposed genre of a release can leave one asking questions. In regards to Ultraviolet by Kylesa the term ‘sludge metal’ is wholly appropriate. Sadly this is not necessarily a huge compliment.
Ultaviolet is Kylesa’s 6th Studio album, and the band returns with 11 tracks clocking in at a little under 40 minutes. A respectable playtime, yet they manage to make it feel as if this record lasts for hours on end. Opening with a bang (or perhaps more of a dull thud) Ultraviolet begins with some excellent atmospheric music. Known for their use of multiple percussionists, Exhale oozes in from every direction (the production is top notch here) with a distorted wall of sound. The dual vocal attack of Laura Pleasants and Phillip Cope is as effective as ever and the mélange of her melancholy drone mixed with the heavier scratch of Cope’s growl layers beautifully with the dynamic rhythm put forth by the band. Pleasant’s vocals have a tone eerily reminiscent of Kelly Deal of The Breeders and this reviewer was transported back to the college radio era of the mid 90’s during the first few songs on this release.
Take heed, this album is heavy listening past the first few tracks. Sludge, crust, stoner, post grunge; no matter what classification you put on them Kylesa put forth a bittersweet cacophony of epic proportions that at times can get lost in its own complexity. Distortion is everywhere, along with enough ambient noise and flanged guitar to make even the most jaded post rock fan smile just a bit. When the formula works, it is an astounding trip, early Pink Floyd meets EyeHateGod with just enough pop symmetry blended in to make it flow. The issues here are when the songs start falling apart. Maybe I was lacking the ‘pharmaceutical enhancements’ while listening to really delve deep into this release. Even with my headphones on (and this is a record that was made for them) I was at times lost and waiting for some form of cohesiveness to show up. I almost feel as if I have contradicted myself there though. Some fans seek out that disjointed lack of direction, even crave it from a band like this.
The track Steady Breakdown is an excellent analogy for this entire release. Not quite a highlight from the band, yet not a total failure. In parts it shines and during others it stays in the shadows, staring at the floor.
4. We’re Taking This
5. Long Gone
6. What Does It Take
7. Steady Breakdown
8. Low Tide
9. Vulture’s Landing