Sound — 9
Prosthetic Records' Kylesa has proven itself to be a driving force in experimental, psychedelic rock over the past few years, and the Georgia band's latest release is no exception. Static Tensions does the unexpected by sounding familiar, yet at the same time startlingly novel and fresh. You can hear elements of everyone from Mastodon to Soundgarden to The Deftones, but that doesn't even begin to describe the imaginative sounds that Kylesa delivers. From the very start we are introduced to Kylesa's ace in the hole, the drumming team of Jeff Porter and Carl McGinley. The track Scapegoat immediately puts the focus on furious percussive work, allowing the song to rapidly build up to sonic-sounding guitars and guttural screams. When you finally get to the core melody, Scapegoat reveals itself to also be quite an infectious song. This is the case in most of Kylesa's material what may seem bizarre and disorganized is all tied together to make a near-perfect composition. The psychedelia aspect comes out strong in songs like Unknown Awareness, which features one of the more trippy beginnings. You hear the angelic vocals (likely from guitarist/vocalist Laura Pleasants) and the guitar section takes on a dreamy, Cure-like sound. That doesn't mean this band ever allows itself to be laid-back for any lengthy period of time. Kylesa is a master at tempo changes, and Unknown Awareness is one of many tracks that won't hesitate to speed up or slow down at a moment's notice. Kylesa is not a radio band by any means, and you're not going to necessarily understand everything being sung/scream by Laura Pleasants or Phillip Cope throughout the course of Static Tensions. That being said, there is an enormous amount of creativity and the musicianship has never been better. The band is equally impressive in the rhythmic and lead departments, and the addition of some unusual (and often creepy) effects sets a perfect mood.
Lyrics — 9
As was said before, the lyrics don't always come to the forefront of a Kylesa song. While there is still a solid set of themes and ideas behind every song on the album, it's actually the phrasing of the lyrics that gives them life. The words almost melt in with the accompanying instruments, and that's an art in itself.
Overall Impression — 9
Kylesa might be too avant-garde for the average listener, but they are still extremely worthy of some attention. Having more than one vocalist is nothing new to Kylesa, and after listening to Static Tensions, it really is secondary to the whole production. Cope and Pleasants strike a perfect balance, only to be shown up by their own guitar playing. When you add up the monstrous wall of percussion, the rhythmically diverse compositions (a few guitar lines even resemble Tool), and the vibrant down-tuning, Static Tensions is a truly impressive piece of work.