Savannah sludge quintet Kylesa broke out—and stood out—in 2010 as a result of their excellent fifth studio album, Spiral Shadow, which fused stoner metal, crust punk, and pop to form a confident statement that they’re genre benders rather than metal purists. With their new album, Ultraviolet, they add even more grime to their sound, getting dirtier, darker, colder, and grittier while simultaneously adhering to their already behemoth aesthetic. The band wastes no time setting the tone, as opening track “Exhale” pounds the listener into submission with its militaristic drums, heavy major-chord guitar riffs, and Laura Pleasants and Phillip Cope’s aggressive vocals. Likewise, “We’re Taking This” is two minutes and 40 seconds of pure stomp, with Cope doing his best Zack de la Rocha impersonation over a repeated, driving riff and rhythm section. Perhaps most exemplary of the album’s dark, cold promises is “Quicksand,” the title of which aptly captures the song’s urgency. Shimmering drones give way to an absolutely nasty, distorted riff as Pleasants waxes poetic about drowning in quicksand and choking on teeth, blood, and broken bones. Call it dream-pop for metalheads. With Ultraviolet, Kylesa has once again established themselves in the great tradition of hard-rockers who’ve realized it’s possible to make a “dark” album without sacrificing accessibility, further proving that heavy riffs and great hooks aren’t mutually exclusive.
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