Between a tour with Mastodon and a killer new album, Kylesa seem poised for a breakthrough year in 2009. The ten songs on this Georgia band's fourth full-length, Static Tensions, speed by in 40 minutes — relatively brief by sludgy, stoner-groove standards; more abstract than Crowbar, but not as otherworldly as Neurosis. The long-time experimental Australian band Alchemist is my closest point of reference.
At the forefront of Kylesa's sound are their two drummers - layering tribal beats with the bassline before their two singer-guitarists (one female) enter the fray. Frontman Phillip Cope screams and barks while Laura Pleasants interjects occasionally, bringing atmosphere with her layered, ethereal singing. The ten tracks on Static Tensions vary this formula consistently enough throughout that the disc actually gets more interesting during a listen. The album peaks with its ninth song "Perception," which ramps up and breaks down several times after Laura sings two verses, then around the 2:40 mark launches into what might be the best 20-30 seconds of heavy metal I've heard in a few years - rapid drumming with a simple rhythm guitar escort, joined briefly by an awesome solo before the last verse resumes. It's the only time on the album Kylesa's brevity works against them, because if I were in a mosh pit I'd want such an awesome passage to continue a little longer.
Kylesa's short swing with fellow Georgian avant-metallers Mastodon won't play any closer than New Orleans or Birmingham in April. At the very least you can catch Kylesa this Tuesday at Tampa's quintessential metal dive, The Brass Mug. 3.5 stars.