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Kylesa - Spiral Shadow
26 October 2010

01. Tired Climb
02. Cheating Synergy
03. Drop Out
04. Crowded Road
05. Don't Look Back
06. Distance Closing In
07. To Forget
08. Forsaken
09. Spiral Shadow
10. Back And Forth
11. Dust

"We wanted this to be a 'headphone' album" - explains Laura Pleasants on the "making of… " DVD. The album was to also be about distance - distance in terms of the time and miles with the band, as well as distancing themselves from their prior works.

That it is and that it does.

Not quite the raging slab that was Static Tensions, Spiral Shadow is perhaps Sludge-lite. It still has heaping helpings of bludgeoning sludge, but has some more mellow moments and hypnotic-almost-tribal passages to give the album added moods and depth.

The band delve deep into their vault of stomp boxes (fact: if you lined up all Kylesa's effects pedals back to back, you would encircle the Earth three times. True story) and explore various sound combinations. While tons of effects could be used to cover up weak songs, Kylesa show enough restraint and songwriting chops to make the whole thing work.

The guitars - and even at a couple points in the album, the bass - all undergo sonic changes, as the band apparently didn't use the same pedals/settings more than once… but they aren't layered to the point of taking anything away from the two drummers drumming. They've still got enough space in the mix to give the album backbone.

Laura Pleasants takes over more of the vocal duties than she did in Static Tensions, and also alternates between her intense sludgy shouts and (bad pun incoming. You have been warned) pleasant melodies. Phillip Cope fans need not fret, his vox are still all over the album as well.

While not as directly visceral as it's predecessor, Spiral Shadow is a worthy successor based upon the added elements and depth the band have incorporated into their sound. This is an album that is appealing on first listen, but has enough going on in the periphery to make additional listens enjoyable as well.

Performance: 9
Songwriting: 8
Originality: 8
Production: 9

Band profile: Kylesa
Album: Spiral Shadow


Written on 11.11.2010 by
BitterCOld has been officially reviewing albums for MetalStorm since 2009.
More reviews by BitterCOld ››


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Ag Fox - 11.11.2010 at 02:05  
Nice and fair review. do you prefer Static Tentions or Spiral Shadows? I find myself liking Spiral Shadows more and more lol

rofl at the pun
BitterCOld - 11.11.2010 at 02:37  
Written by Ag Fox on 11.11.2010 at 02:05

Nice and fair review. do you prefer Static Tentions or Spiral Shadows? I find myself liking Spiral Shadows more and more lol

rofl at the pun

at present, it's close between the two, but i think i prefer SPiral Shadows more at the moment. partially because of the "making of" video, which, after watching, has you understanding the approach a bit more as well as helps you catch some subtleties in the music i likely would have otherwise missed.
Axe Argonian - 11.11.2010 at 06:07  
Good review. I just received it in the mail today and have enjoyed it to a great extent. I personally enjoy it more than Static Tensions due to the fact that Spiral Shadows introduces the band's sound to progressive and melodic territory, a soundscape that the band has never previously touched.
Daggon - 11.11.2010 at 08:27  
Your review got me interested in this album (and band), the "headphone album" thing sounds like something that I could really enjoy a lot.

And by the way, it wasn't a bad pun
Mr. Doctor - 11.11.2010 at 10:04  
You're lucky you're not in my classroom because I'm totally "omfg... why" about the pun

I still haven't checked this band AT ALL. What is wrong with me, this seems the type of music I will love. Need some time to check it out.
oroboros - 11.11.2010 at 10:31  
This is such a headphone album!!
Kuroboshi - 11.11.2010 at 10:35  
Really enjoyed the last two albums, and based on your review this one also seems to be bad-ass! Thanks for the review.
Good pun btw.
Deadsoulman - 11.11.2010 at 11:17  
This album seems less intense and cluttered than Static Tensions. It makes a whole different impression and I like it so far.
Ag Fox - 11.11.2010 at 16:12  
>partially because of the "making of" video
is there a link?

I swear the mark has gone up by 0.1(?)
Marcel Hubregtse - 26.11.2010 at 21:22  
Been listening a lot to this album lately and it sounds even more like Alchemist zespecially their Organasm and Austral Alien era than Static Tensions. not that that's a bad thing, absolutely not.
BitterCOld - 24.12.2010 at 11:04  
So a couple months on, and one grab of "Static Tensions" predecessor later, i think "Static Tensions" (a good album) is my least favorite of the three i have heard. Spiral Shadow would take the top spot. i find the album growing a bit on me with each listen, much like (but not quite as much as) Mastodon did last year.

will most likely my top 10. the top 5 or so are laid out, but... shit... spots 6 through, oh, 25 are still up in the air. lots of "very good" releases this year, but a week away from 2011 this is towards the very very good end.
!J.O.O.E.! - 01.01.2011 at 17:40  
Well a few days ago I hadn't heard this album but I'm sure if I'd heard it on its release it would have become one of my most listened records of last year and it's easily on my top 10 or the 2010. Its reception doesn't seem to have been that great in some places but I'm guessing that's down to it's mellower temperament. Anyway I love every single track, quite literally, each has a great sense of melody (which balances pretty well with the heavier sludged out parts, though it's definitely more melodic than it is heavy) and the variety of effects works extremely well not to mention the whole tribal aspect gives it a wonderfully contemplative and often epic atmosphere. Hell even the somewhat poppy bits work for me.

That all sounds really contrived and it's more or less repeating what you said in the review which I happen to totally agree with. I can understand why people might view this as watered down but I think the trade off the for heavier parts was worth it.
Spirit Molecule - 27.04.2011 at 14:37  
I still prefer static tensions but as you said, like the mastodon album its one of those albums that grows on you. I love laura's vocals on this one and the only thing I felt that was missing from the last one was more of her droned out vocals. This one sounds a lot like Black math horsemen ( a band you should check out if you liked this album) which is not a bad thing.
I just noticed that all the reviews i just checked out were written by BitterCold. You sir, have very good tastes in music
Night Sight - 07.05.2011 at 09:24  
This album is great combination of psychedelic rock and sludge metal
I prefer this to their previous

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