Kylesa

Kylesa is one of a wave of bands, formed around the turn of the century in the Deep South, that play mid-tempo metal mixed with hardcore, punk and post-rock, drawing heavily on the work of Neurosis. On Static Tensions, its third widely-released LP, Kylesa subordinates its experimental or psychedelic qualities to simply being a great rock band, and the record exudes vitality and swing. Its loose, though not imprecise, feel, along with its dark guitar tones and limited rhythmic vocabulary, almost give it a grunge vibe — an impression heightened by vocalists Phillip Cope and Laura Pleasants, who sound like Kurt Brecht of D.R.I. (and now Houston's Pasadena Napalm Division) and L7's Suzi Gardner. Though Static Tensions lacks variety in its conventional stoner-metal riffs, it's consistently hard, clever, smoothly played and tremendously heavy. Cope and Pleasants use guitar effects nicely for atmosphere, while the group's two-drummer lineup heightens the energy level. At its best, on tracks like "Running Red" and especially "Unknown Awareness," Static Tensions achieves a joyful menace that goes right to the heart of what this style is all about.

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