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Kylesa- Spiral Shadow (Album Review)

This Savannah, GA-based hard rock band has finally painted its masterpiece on this, its fifth full-length. Kylesa’s use of two drummers (a practice that began on 2006’s Time Will Fuse Its Worth) has really paid off on this disc, adding rhythmic intricacy without devolving into proggy abstraction or wallowing in Melvins-like thudding. The melodic aspect of their sound is what’s changed the most on Spiral Shadow, though; the songs are more psychedelic than ever, with guitarist/vocalists Phillip Cope and Laura Pleasants shouting and crooning back and forth at each other in a call-and-response style that sometimes sounds like an argument, and other times like a ritual. Pleasants’ dreamy crooning on “Don’t Look Back” recalls ’90s shoegaze, or Kim Gordon’s work with Sonic Youth on albums like Sister and EVOL. Cope and Pleasants’ guitar work is incantatory and powerful, rising to Baroness-like heights of glory on tracks like “Tired Climb” and “Crowded Road.” Those titles reflect a feeling of physicality, of people making music through manual labor in a hot, crowded room, and that’s how this album feels. The mix is somehow both spacious and full, with each instrument clearly audible at all times, yet making up one part of a majestic whole. This is a great psychedelic hard rock album, only occasionally returning to the sludgy metal of Kylesa’s early releases.