Sludge metal titans Kylesa have presented their own gift for the holidays with From the Vaults, Vol. 1, a tantalizing record. The rarities and B-sides take hold immediately, with the Savannah-based band’s tenacious and dirty love of dirty rock and dirtier metal pushing its way through. There’s also a new song, “End Truth,” that speaks as a harbinger of the doom to come.
Kylesa has gone through some line-up changes over the years since emerging in Georgia in 2001. Only vocalist and guitarist Phillip Cope and vocalist and guitarist Laura Pleasants remain from the initial group. The band currently has two drummers in Carl McGinley and Tyler Newberry, while former drummer Eric Hernandez closes out the group on bass.
With their first self-titled full-length released in 2002, there’s a wealth of material to go through if one is plunging into the Kylesa cellars. It’s not a job I’d want, that’s for sure, but From the Vaults, Vol. 1 is a quality jaunt that offers more than a few different perspectives. There’s enough material here to offer long-time fans something special and enough variety to introduce novices to a sonic powerhouse.
As is generally the case with Kylesa, the mix is muddy and sufficiently grimy. The last record of theirs I reviewed was 2008’s Static Tensions, an orgiastic riff-heaven with mud to match. From the Vaults, Vol. 1 lives up to those lofty standards and proves that the band always has it in them — even in the more experimental moments.
After a mood-setting intro that makes this release feel like a “real album,” the blistering post-punk bonanza that is “Inverse” settles in. The vocals come in three flavours of encrusted fury, each one peppered with slashes of guitar and thrashing drums. The use of echo effects fits snugly into the garage feel.
Tracks like “111 Degree Heat Index” build on existing works, while the colossal “Paranoid Tempo” features Pleasants front and center and hauls all kinds of punk rock ass.
There’s also the cover of Pink Floyd’s “Set the Controls For the Heart of the Sun” to consider. This is a sludgy number, but it’s also wider and features less garage rock components than much of From the Vaults, Vol. 1. The vocal blends are marvelous and matching them up with doom-laden riffing is a grand idea for furthering the track’s distance and desolation.
Ending with “Drum Jam,” an instrumental that shows off Kylesa’s wall of percussion, From the Vaults, Vol. 1 is more than just a placeholder until the next LP. It’s a statement of achievement, an account of what lies beneath the Savannah surface and what’s locked away where only skeleton fingers can reach.