Kylesa - Static Tensions
Prosthetic Records
Doom Metal/Sludge Metal
10 songs (40:24)
Release year: 2009
Kylesa, Prosthetic Records
Reviewed by Phil

Two fricking drummers…how cool is that? Kylesa has two fricking drummers. On stage, two dudes (Carl McGinely and Eric Hernandez) sit right next to each other and bang the hell out of a combined drum kit. Live, the drumming duo gives the band a massive, bone-rattling sound. When a listener stands stage front, each ear is assaulted by pure percussive power. The real challenge for Kylesa has been figuring out how to make this set up work on an album. Honestly, they never really had…until Static Tensions.

Static Tensions was released in March of 2009, and it was produced by guitarist/vocalist Phillip Cope. Cope is an accomplished producer in his own right, having worked with a number of underground bands including Baroness and Black Tusk. Even so, Static Tensions marks the first time he’s produced an album for Kylesa. His greatest accomplishment on the album can be heard clearly in the opening seconds of the first song Scapegoat. Cope successfully split the two drummers into separate speakers, and the mix makes it easy to hear the individual drum parts.

But there’s more to Static Tensions than drumming and production. The band, which also includes guitarist/vocalist Laura Pleasants and bassist/vocalist Corey Barhorst, took a huge step forward in the song writing department as well. Instead of an unmoving mass of screaming and sludge riffs, the band opened up their style and incorporated a slew of new vocal styles, guitar sounds and tempos. Don’t worry, Kylesa didn’t go completely fluttery. Ends up they’re still packing the heat when it comes to crippling riffs as well.

While opener Scapegoat is a straightforward, pounding song, the variant vocal sounds, dual drumming and changing guitar effects add a good deal of interest to the tune. Said And Done kicks in with busy drumming and a frantic guitar riff. A galloping breakdown takes over after a minute and a half, and it is heavy, heavy, heavy. Soon, the breakdown is simplified even more, and the drummers ride the beat for all it’s worth. On Unknown Awareness, Pleasants’ spooky guitar lines and sung vocals work on top of the heaviness to give the song a strange, ethereal feel. Running Red is a showcase for Pleasants’ vocals. The six-minute song includes innocent singing, a throaty bellow and plenty of jagged screaming. Nature’s Predators is packed full of tempo changes and guitar chicanery. It seems to pack almost every piece of Kylesa’s sound into one track. Loopy guitar licks, heavy sludge riffs, screamed vocals, crushing drumming…it’s all in there. Only One is the most impressive track on the album. A drum intro starts the song; then another of Pleasants’ circular guitar lines comes in. The song is packed with riff after riff, guitar line after guitar line…vocals are sung, vocals are screamed. This song puts you through the proverbial wringer. By the time the crushing outro riff kicks in at the four minute mark, you don’t really know which way is up. As the band bangs out the rhythm again and again, you will realize this is controlled chaos at it’s finest.

Kylesa has taken a huge step forward with Static Tensions – creatively and sonically. The band has truly evolved and worked to incorporate a ton of new sounds. In an era when most bands seem happy to trot out second rate Black Sabbath riffs album after album, this is a most welcome change.

Killing Songs :
Only One, Running Red, Said And Done
Phil quoted 89 / 100
Other albums by Kylesa that we have reviewed:
Kylesa - Ultraviolet reviewed by Goat and quoted 74 / 100
Kylesa - From the Vaults, Vol. 1 reviewed by Koeppe and quoted no quote
Kylesa - Spiral Shadow reviewed by Goat and quoted 89 / 100
Kylesa - Time Will Fuse Its Worth reviewed by Dylan and quoted 50 / 100
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