Sound — 8
The first thing you notice about this album is the sound design, in which Kylesa succeed spectacularly. The scope and depth of tone is ever present throughout the album, but is captivating almost to the point of distraction on opening track "Crusher." It strings together a series of "what?" moments to an intriguing level. "What?" Moments - verb, existential adjective. - The point when an unexpectedly weird tone, time signature or note causes one stoner to turn to another and rhetorically ask "what?". Commonly whilst confounded with a perplexed expression. Example - most of anything Josh Homme touches. Its appeal will no doubt resonate with the musician in you, if only to leave you craving whatever combination of distortion pedals, flangers and filters made that possible. And here in lies the problem.
Kylesa manage to craft an alluring soundscape on "Exhausting Fire," but then never quite know what to do with it. It wasn't until standout track "Shaping the Southern Sky" that it reach anything approaching a memorable groove. I kept waiting for that one riff that they'd hold on, lodge in my brain and let me get lost in, but it never really happened. The almost punk-length run times of the first handful of tracks do nothing but hammer this home, for a soon as they've set the scene, the tracks nearly over. Its painfully missing those 8-10 minute long jams which we've come to expect from music given the "stoner" label. Please see High On Fire/Orange Goblin/Truckfighters for reference. In short, the songs don't run as deep as the tone.
Lyrics — 4
Nearly 4 playthroughs in and honestly I couldn't repeat any more lyrics than where chorus meets song title. I finished each song knowing as much of what it's about as I did coming into it. That's likely because lyrics don't seem to be the point here, but the sounds do. The vocals are distorted, reverbed and echoed to good effect. They fit nicely into the music with their pained, hazy and at times reluctant delivery. It didn't take away from the sound, it didn't add to it. It's refreshing to hear the two tongued male and female vocalist approach taken to this sub-genre - this being my first Kylesa venture - but it did leave a comparison I wasn't expecting to make. Something about the combination makes "Inward Debate" especially sound like L7 - L7 if they took a lot more drugs and pretended they were dying, instead of dead.
Overall Impression — 6
As a newcomer to this band, I was intrigued and entertained by the sounds Kylesa can create. The album was satisfying to listen to in one sitting, but not to the point you'd want to play the full thing during a drug fuelled session with friends. Certainly would recommend listening to it if you're a musician and a fan of stoner metal/rock/sludge etc, as its inspirational in its sound design. You could listen to those guitars for hours, I'm just not entirely sure you'd want Kylesa to be the ones playing them.