One of the genuine greats of the metal underground is Georgian sludge hounds, KYLESA. In league with fellow mud-prog maestros MASTODON, BLACK TUSK and BARONESS, KYLESA often becomes the forgotten noisy brats of their sweltering scene. Frankly, that reeks since they're one of the most inventive, bombastic and courageous bands in metal today. Every bit as potent and rowdy as their statewide peers, KYLESA benefits from the added attraction of a dual drum attack and three vocalists which permit for plentiful songwriting dynamics. Capitalizing on the best elements of doom, sludge, hardcore, thrash and at times Southern fried boogie, if you're not listening to this band, wake the hell up.
Carrying five studio albums and some split EPs under their belts, it's not so much an oddity KYLESA chooses this time to uncork "From the Vaults Vol. 1" as meets the eye. What becomes nothing more than a filler piece for most bands, KYLESA makes the most of this venture with respect for themselves and better yet, respect for their audience.
With only three alternate cuts of familiars ("Bottom Line", "Between Silence and Sound" and "A 110 Degree Heat Index"), the remainder of "From the Vaults Vol. 1" is rounded out by B-sides and rare nuggets seldom few of KYLESA's fans have heard. There's also a new trippy, prog-filled crank track, "End Truth", which adds to the effusive repertoire of this group. Combined, "From the Vaults Vol. 1" spells an immediate-must listen.
What KYLESA does right with "From the Vaults Vol. 1" is somehow arranging these massive and sprawling songs into a cohesive sequential order that eradicates the hopscotching effect most albums of this nature assume. Indeed, "From the Vaults Vol. 1" sounds like its own beast, an authentic album with a logical flow as KYLESA parlays all of their miscellaneous modes.
"Inverse" is an instant grab after the insect-like swill of the album's "Intro" piece, throttling listeners with pounding bass lines, syrupy tempos and Phillip Cope's unhinged yelping. It's impossible not to let the neck muscles loose and bob along in tandem to "Inverse" as the pace slithers into the menacing yet quixotic new interpretation of "111 Degree Heat Index". After surviving the full-on crush of "Between Silence and Sound II" where Cope and Laura Pleasants trade off their respective wailing amidst swerving doom melodies, listen up for the rattlesnake chatter of drumsticks leading into the straightforward punk-out of "Paranoid Tempo".
Pleasants does a mean homage of Wendy O. Williams on the front and rear sections of many of these songs, most convincingly on "Between Silence and Sound II" and "Bottom Line II". Would that Wendy O. had lived to hear Pleasants' growls and swoons on the marching stamp of "Wavering", no doubt the priestess of punk would be smiling at her handiwork.
No strangers to dabbing some MELVINS into their work (dual drumming being the most obvious aspect), the barf-o-rama bass drive of the punishing "Drained" seeps out of a quick shot instrumental preceding it, "Bass Salts". KYLESA employs every bludgeoning tactic they have in their arsenal to live up to "Drained"'s namesake. Indeed, you will feel avalanched by its beleaguering slog.
Capped by a funky-as-hell percussion thrust, "Drum Jam", it's the only track that doesn't necessarily doesn't serve the album's raging tide. Yet "From the Vaults Vol. 1" would feel naked without it, considering the collapsing beat layers and shrieking psychedelics of "Set the Controls For the Heart of Sun" prior to. The playful standoff between Jeff Porter and Carl McGinley is a treat, just like watching Dale Crover and Coady Willis go at it together during a MELVINS set.
As with ISIS' recent rarities retrospective "Temporal", KYLESA serves up more proverbial meat than potatoes and "From the Vaults Vol. 1" only begs the question of how great Vol. 2 might be. If they replicate the same depth as this installment, KYLESA's legend will grow well before they issue a brand new full-length.
- Ray Van Horn, Jr.